Scrapbookpages Blog

March 23, 2016

The Holocaust according to Daniel Goldhagen

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 8:41 am

One of the regular readers of my blog wrote a comment in which Daniel Goldhagen was mentioned. Daniel Goldhagen is a Holocaust expert who has written several books, including a book entitled Hitler’s Willing Executioners. His book was one of the first books that I read when I began studying the Holocaust.

I quoted from Daniel Goldhagen’s book on my website, which I began writing in 1998:

Begin quote from Goldhagen’s book:


“During the Holocaust, Germans extinguished the lives of six million Jews and, had Germany not been defeated, would have annihilated millions more. The Holocaust was also the defining feature of German politics and political culture during the Nazi period, the most shocking event of the twentieth century, and the most difficult to understand in all of German history. The Germans’ persecution of the Jews culminating in the Holocaust is thus the central feature of Germany during the Nazi period. It is so not because we are retrospectively shocked by the most shocking event of the century, but because of what it meant to Germans at the time and why so many of them contributed to it.”

Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

End quote

I decided to look Goldhagen up on Wikipedia. I was amazed to learn that Goldhagen has a page on Wikipedia which has a section entitled  Criticism, which I am quoting:

Begin quote


The book [Hitler’s Willing Executioners] sparked controversy in the press and academic circles. Some historians have characterized its reception as an extension of the Historikerstreit, the German historiographical debate of the 1980s that sought to explain Nazi history.[26] The book was a “publishing phenomenon”,[27] achieving fame in both the United States and Germany despite being criticized by some historians,[28][29][30][31][32] who called it ahistorical and,[33] according to Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg, “totally wrong about everything” and “worthless.”[34][35] Due to its alleged “generalizing hypothesis” about Germans, it has been characterized as anti-German.[36][37][38] The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer claims that “Goldhagen stumbles badly,” and

Does not seem to be acquainted with some basic developments in German society in the nineteenth century. Certainly, there was what he calls eliminationist antisemitism and its impact increased as the century matured…But antisemitism came in different forms, and Goldhagen puts all antisemitism in the same basket, including the liberal type that wanted to see the Jews disappear by assimilation and conversion…The vast majority of German antisemitics did not wish to abolish formal Jewish emancipation. Goldhagen makes much of the radical antisemitism of the Conservative Party in Germany; but in 1893 it obtained less than 10 percent of the votes, whereas the National Liberals, among whom there were a number of former Jews, were much more numerous. Goldhagen ignores this and makes the counterfactual statement that “conservatives and völkisch nationalists in Germany…formed the vast majority of the population.

End quote from Wikipedia