Germans in the Dock

"The German may be a good fellow, but it is better to hang him."
—Russian Proverb

This is a disturbing book: not simply because the author, an assistant professor of government at Harvard, points an accusing finger at the German people whom he implicitly accuses of having been Hitler's willing accomplices in the implementation of the "final solution" (the eradication of Jews from German society), but for its claim that the general mood of anti-Semitism, pervading all strata of German society in the 1930's and making the holocaust possible, owed a great deal to age-old anti-Jewish prejudices and stereotypes inculcated and nourished by centuries of Catholic and Protestant indoctrination. As Daniel Goldhagen sums up in a sweeping, simplistic formula: the "Jew," regarded as an instrument of the Devil in the medieval Age of Belief, came to be regarded as the Devil himself when, from the beginning of the 19th century on, religious faith declined, and with it the medieval belief in Satan.

No one can honestly accuse Daniel Jonah Goldhagen of not having done his homework. The notes and source references, filling more than 120 pages, attest to the diligence of the author's research during the months he spent reading books and plowing through thousands of pages of documents concerning special police battalions and other death-camp units preserved...

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