The Holocaust: History and Memory

The Holocaust: History and Memory

The Holocaust: History and Memory

The Holocaust: History and Memory

Synopsis

Brilliant and wrenching, The Holocaust: History and Memory tells the story of the brutal mass slaughter of Jews during World War II and how that genocide has been remembered and misremembered ever since. Taking issue with generations of scholars who separate the Holocaust from Germany's military ambitions, historian Jeremy M. Black demonstrates persuasively that Germany's war on the Allies was entwined with Hitler's war on Jews. As more and more territory came under Hitler's control, the extermination of Jews became a major war aim, particularly in the east, where many died and whole Jewish communities were exterminated in mass shootings carried out by the German army and collaborators long before the extermination camps were built. Rommel's attack on Egypt was a stepping stone to a larger goal--the annihilation of 400,000 Jews living in Palestine. After Pearl Harbor, Hitler saw America's initial focus on war with Germany rather than Japan as evidence of influential Jewish interests in American policy, thus justifying and escalating his war with Jewry through the Final Solution. And the German public knew. In chilling detail, Black unveils compelling evidence that many everyday Germans must have been aware of the genocide around them. In the final chapter, he incisively explains the various ways that the Holocaust has been remembered, downplayed, and even dismissed as it slips from horrific experience into collective consciousness and memory. Essential, concise, and highly readable, The Holocaust: History and Memory bears witness to those forever silenced and ensures that we will never forget their horrifying fate.

Excerpt

The history of the holocaust, or shoah, needs revisiting in the face of continuing attempts to deny its veracity or scope. the arrest of David Irving in Austria in 2005, on the charge of Holocaust denial, served as a pointed reminder of its contentious character and, that year Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new president of Iran, publicly joined the sordid ranks of the deniers. in fact, Adolf Hitler’s determination to rid Europe of Jews and what he saw as Jewish ideas in all their manifestations, was central to his ultimate goal of establishing a thousand-year Reich (German empire). the opportunity was provided by the extensive German conquests in the early stages of World War ii, and the history of the Holocaust in part properly belongs to that of the war. Although this might seem an obvious point, it is challenged by the range of work on aspects of the war that underplays or ignores the Holocaust and other Jewish themes. Indeed, I deliberately included a volume on the Holocaust in the seven-volume collection of articles and essays on the war by various scholars that I edited in 2007. the present book, which builds on an earlier book published in 2008, is written in part in response to the continuation of Holocaust denial and also because of the need for a short introductory study.

The spate of Holocaust denial during the 1990s and the 2000s was the clarion call for the writing and publication of my 2008 book. the context for it was: the mounting evasiveness, downplaying, and even denial of the Holocaust in certain European and non-European circles; the challenges these vexatious developments posed to Western civilization; and apprehension over what these foibles could portend for civil . . .

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