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Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers

Tekijä: Guenter Lewy

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
2111,043,633 (3.5)2
"Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions." Primo Levi's words disclose a chilling truth: assigning blame to hideous political leaders, such as Hitler,Himmler, and Heydrich, is necessary but not sufficient to explain how the Holocaust could have happened. These leaders, in fact, relied on many thousands of ordinary men and women who made the Nazi machine work on a daily basis - members of the killing squads, guards accompanying the trains to theextermination camps, civilian employees of the SS, the drivers of gas trucks, and the personnel of death factories such as Auschwitz. Why did these ordinary people collaborate and willingly become mass murderers? In Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers, Guenter Lewy tries to answer oneof history's most disturbing questions.Lewy draws on a wealth of previously untapped sources, including letters and diaries of soldiers who served in Russia, the recollections of Jewish survivors, archival documents, and most importantly, the trial records of hundreds of Nazi functionaries. The result is a ghastly, extraordinarilydetailed portrait of the Holocaust perpetrators, their mindset, and the motivations for their actions.Combining a rigorous historical analysis with psychological insight, the book explores the dynamics of participation in large-scale atrocities, offering a thought-provoking and timely reflection on individual responsibility for collective crimes. Lewy concludes that the perpetrators acted out of avariety of motives - a sense of duty, obedience to authority, thirst for career, and a blind faith in anti-Semitic ideology, among others. A witness to the 1938 Kristallnacht himself and the son of a concentration camp survivor, Lewy has searched for the reasons of the Holocaust out of far more thantheoretical interest: it is a passionate attempt to illuminate a dismal chapter of his life - and of human history - that cannot be forgotten.… (lisätietoja)
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If one is looking for a concise examination of the factors that generated the Holocaust, one could do quite a lot worse than this monograph, written by a man who witnessed "Crystal Night" as a child, and who has spent much of their career dealing with the analysis of organized violence against peoples. Concentrating on motivation amongst the field commanders and foot soldiers of the Nazi war on the Jews, Lewy is quite prepared to split hairs between genuine haters, careerists, and people just swept up in events. The one point Lewy comes back, and essentially ends on, is that while you can't expect suicide to be a general option by which to maintain personal integrity, even in Nazi Germany one did have options to avoid participating in industrialized murder, and the actual killers seldom availed themselves of it.

Apart from that, one thing that undercuts this monograph is that Lewy does invoke the work of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo, whose experiments were being debunked basically as this book was coming out. ( )
  Shrike58 | Feb 14, 2023 |
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions." Primo Levi's words disclose a chilling truth: assigning blame to hideous political leaders, such as Hitler,Himmler, and Heydrich, is necessary but not sufficient to explain how the Holocaust could have happened. These leaders, in fact, relied on many thousands of ordinary men and women who made the Nazi machine work on a daily basis - members of the killing squads, guards accompanying the trains to theextermination camps, civilian employees of the SS, the drivers of gas trucks, and the personnel of death factories such as Auschwitz. Why did these ordinary people collaborate and willingly become mass murderers? In Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers, Guenter Lewy tries to answer oneof history's most disturbing questions.Lewy draws on a wealth of previously untapped sources, including letters and diaries of soldiers who served in Russia, the recollections of Jewish survivors, archival documents, and most importantly, the trial records of hundreds of Nazi functionaries. The result is a ghastly, extraordinarilydetailed portrait of the Holocaust perpetrators, their mindset, and the motivations for their actions.Combining a rigorous historical analysis with psychological insight, the book explores the dynamics of participation in large-scale atrocities, offering a thought-provoking and timely reflection on individual responsibility for collective crimes. Lewy concludes that the perpetrators acted out of avariety of motives - a sense of duty, obedience to authority, thirst for career, and a blind faith in anti-Semitic ideology, among others. A witness to the 1938 Kristallnacht himself and the son of a concentration camp survivor, Lewy has searched for the reasons of the Holocaust out of far more thantheoretical interest: it is a passionate attempt to illuminate a dismal chapter of his life - and of human history - that cannot be forgotten.

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