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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


July 18, 2010

Origin of the belief that prisoners were burned alive on the “death marches” out of the concentration camps

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 11:28 am

The origin of the Holocaust story of the prisoners in the Nazi concentration camps being sent on “death marches” and burned alive, at places like Gardelegen, is the best-selling book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.

Chapter 14 of Goldhagen’s book is entitled “Marching to What End?”

Goldhagen wrote that “marching the Jews to death, was an end in itself.” Goldhagen did say that Himmler, the head of all the concentration camps, had given an order not to kill any of the Jews being marched out of the camps, but he wrote that, in spite of this order, the Germans continued to kill the Jews on the marches.

I read Goldhagen’s book before I knew very much about the Holocaust, and I was amazed to read this on page 367:

Finally, the fidelity of the Germans to their genocidal enterprise was so great as seeming to defy comprehension. Their world was disintegrating around them, yet they persisted in genocidal killing until the end.

Goldhagen then quotes a survivor of the Gardelegen massacre:

One night we stopped near the town of Gardelegen.  We lay down in a field and several Germans went to consult about what they should do.  They returned with a lot of young people from the Hitler Youth and with members of the police force from the town. They chased us all into a large barn. Since we were 3,000 – 6,000 people, the wall of the barn collapsed from the pressure of the mass of people, and many of us fled. The Germans poured out petrol and set the barn on fire.  Several thousand people were burned alive. Those of us who had managed to escape, lay down in a nearby wood and heard the heart-rending screams of the victims. This was on April 13. One day later the place was conquered by Eisenhower’s army. When the Americans got there, the bodies were still  burning.

The book includes this photo of a victim of the Gardelegen massacre.

Prisoner clutched a handful of straw as he burned to death

This photo was shown all over America in a traveling exhibit which ended at Washington, DC.  Remarkably, the straw and the man’s clothing didn’t burn.  I think that this photo proves that the prisoners were not deliberately burned alive.

Goldhagen also included this photo, which I think was staged. I think a dead body was placed in the doorway and then the sliding barn door was pulled across his body.

Prisoner who tunneled under the door face-up on his back.

After reading about this terrible crime, I went to Gardelegen to see for myself.  I wrote about the Gardelegen massacre here and here. I wrote about the reason for the massacre here.

To this day, the official story of the Holocaust, as taught in American universities, is that the prisoners were marched out of the camps in order to kill them and that prisoners on the marches were deliberately burned to death. According to the official story, the Germans had no fear of the Jews and the Russian POWs killing and raping civilians; they just wanted to kill the Jews for no reason in the last days of the war.

Read the full story of Gardelegen for yourself here.