This should, for many reasons, get only one star It gets two for the occasional flashes of actual, legitimate historical scholarship and for some of the evidence he has dug up Nonetheless, it is a truly terrible work, made evenso by its persuasive and populist tone, and the large numbers of copies sold It is an almost textbook example of the dangers of creating a thesis, and then selecting and interpreting evidence to fit that thesis His conclusions are simply wrong, and not backed up This should, for many reasons, get only one star It gets two for the occasional flashes of actual, legitimate historical scholarship and for some of the evidence he has dug up Nonetheless, it is a truly terrible work, made evenso by its persuasive and populist tone, and the large numbers of copies sold It is an almost textbook example of the dangers of creating a thesis, and then selecting and interpreting evidence to fit that thesis His conclusions are simply wrong, and not backed up by evidence My Master s Thesis was on the Shoah and I have studied it at postgraduate level for some time and can confirm that this book is dismissed outright by all serious scholars of the period I can do nothan urge everyone not to waste their time reading it A much better work on this topic is Browning s Read that instead A muchthorough critique can be read here this countless others There is a substantial amount of academic criticism out there on this text, and any decision to read it should be taken with that in mind It s not that some of Goldhagen s ideas are wrong He makes a valuable contribution by recognizing the history of anti Semitism in Germany history prior to WWII and the Holocaust However, this ideological goal blinds him to any other rational to the causes of the Holocaust In his effort to prove the exceptional nature of German hatred and bigotry, he ignores the wealth of evidence from a variety of social scientists pointing out the general cruelty and inhumanity of humanity in general In doi It s not that some of Goldhagen s ideas are wrong He makes a valuable contribution by recognizing the history of anti Semitism in Germany history prior to WWII and the Holocaust However, this ideological goal blinds him to any other rational to the causes of the Holocaust In his effort to prove the exceptional nature of German hatred and bigotry, he ignores the wealth of evidence from a variety of social scientists pointing out the general cruelty and inhumanity of humanity in general In doing this Goldhagen makes breathtaking generalities and grossly misinterprets a lot of evidence that would help disprove his idea of German exceptionalism Also, his focus on German crimes during the Holocaust blinds him to the genocide perpetrates in other European countries by other European nationals The crimes of the French, Poles, Lithuanians, etc are all forgotten in this book While Goldhagen s outrage is natural, especially given that he is the son of Holocaust survivors his scholarship is poor and his methodological work is sloppy at best I didn t manage to finish this I found it very repetitive and overly haranguing Essentially, this book has one central premise That Germany as a nation was murderously antisemtic long before the Nazis came to power, dating back in fact to Martin Luther s hate spewing speeches and beyond and that it s erroneous to single out the Nazis instead of making culpable the entire German population as being responsible for the Holocaust That its erroneous to believe the Nazis were capable of brainwash I didn t manage to finish this I found it very repetitive and overly haranguing Essentially, this book has one central premise That Germany as a nation was murderously antisemtic long before the Nazis came to power, dating back in fact to Martin Luther s hate spewing speeches and beyond and that it s erroneous to single out the Nazis instead of making culpable the entire German population as being responsible for the Holocaust That its erroneous to believe the Nazis were capable of brainwashing an entire nation that wasn t already predisposed to embrace a hatred of Jews The author does an admirable job in researching how ordinary Germans behaved during the war This isn t the first book I ve read on the subject and I have to say it s depressing how widespread racial hatred for the Jews was in Germany even among so called intelligent, sophisticated people You might say Kristallnacht was like a litmus test for the Nazis to test the response of ordinary Germans to their Jewish policy The vast majority stood by and laughed However, the author dismisses rather too opportunistically the notion that in a police state opposition isn t an option by singling out a few Nazi policies that did meet with opposition the banning of crosses from schools for example That may be true but it can t be denied that the Nazis were masters at instilling terror He focuses a lot on the police battalions, often middle aged men who didn t belong to the Nazi party but who had no problem murdering Jews, even women, children and the infirm elderly However, I began to have a problem with the author singling out Germans for antisemitism The truth is, there was a predisposition to treat Jews like parasites throughout Europe at that time Were Austrians, Hungarians, Rumanians, Bulgarians, Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians on the whole any better than the Germans It s difficult to think ofthan a few European countries where the general population harboured a decent humane view of the Jews So, yes the author makes some important points in helping us to understand the incomprehensible but he does tend to make the same point over and over again and with increasing vehemence, like a man bringing his fist down continually on his desk Racial hatred is unfortunately a widespread virus that is always awaiting an opportunity to break out It has no nationality It can begin its hateful work anywhere To single out Germans in this manner felt na ve and overly simplistic to me I try to be critical in my choice of books about the Holocaust, because there are so many to choose from I also find it important that I think I can respect the author before I add his or her book on my must read shelf I ask myself if I would like to have a conversation in person with that author In this case, I don t think I would I probably would get irritated by his generalizations My view is based on these reviews in particular I try to be critical in my choice of books about the Holocaust, because there are so many to choose from I also find it important that I think I can respect the author before I add his or her book on my must read shelf I ask myself if I would like to have a conversation in person with that author In this case, I don t think I would I probably would get irritated by his generalizations My view is based on these reviews in particular there are many other negative reviews This groundbreaking international bestseller lays to rest many myths about the Holocaust that Germans were ignorant of the mass destruction of Jews, that the killers were all SS men, and that those who slaughtered Jews did so reluctantly Hitler s Willing Executioners provides conclusive evidence that the extermination of European Jewry engaged the energies and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of ordinary Germans Goldhagen reconstructs the climate of eliminationist anti Semitism that made Hitler s pursuit of his genocidal goals possible and the radical persecution of the Jews during the s popular Drawing on a wealth of unused archival material, principally the testimony of the killers themselves, Goldhagen takes us into the killing fields where Germans voluntarily hunted Jews like animals, tortured them wantonly, and then posed cheerfully for snapshots with their victims From mobile killing units to the camps to the death marches, Goldhagen shows how ordinary Germans, nurtured in a society where Jews were seen as unalterable evil and dangerous, willingly followed their beliefs to their logical conclusion Hitler s Willing Executioners is an original, indeed brilliant contribution to theliterature on the Holocaust New York Review of Books The most important book ever published about the HolocaustEloquently written, meticulously documented, impassionedA model of moral and scholarly integrity Philadelphia Inquirer I don t feel qualified to review this book about the horrors of the Holocaust..not because I haven t read much about that unbelievable event but because the author puts forward a very controversial approach to the why of the slaughter of the Jews that is at odds with most history The book has stirred violent debates among historians and readers alike and who is to say whether Mr Goldhagen is correct His research is impeccable and the arguments that he puts forth are convincing.What he p I don t feel qualified to review this book about the horrors of the Holocaust..not because I haven t read much about that unbelievable event but because the author puts forward a very controversial approach to the why of the slaughter of the Jews that is at odds with most history The book has stirred violent debates among historians and readers alike and who is to say whether Mr Goldhagen is correct His research is impeccable and the arguments that he puts forth are convincing.What he purports is that the German population as a whole was a willing participant in the Holocaust..not just the military but the volk whose anti Semitism was ingrained in their culture Jews were seen as the enemy and their extermination was seen as just Long before the Nazis came to power the Jews were degraded, treated cruelly and often murdered It appeared to make sense to the Germans that Hitler s Final Solution of genocide was acceptable and some actually saw it as a sport Even near the end of the war when Himmler ordered the people to cease the killings, they continued.This is a dense and very disturbing book and I am basing my rating on the fact that, besides being well written, the information presented gives the reader much to consider when thinking and studying about the Holocaust, Whether I agree or disagree with the author s conclusions is unimportant Unreliable sources and much speculation in this obviously vengeful and hateful book This author simply hates all Germans and claims they were all just like Hitler Avoid this book, in my opinion. This book makes a powerful argument It s main thesis is that the vast majority of Germans during and before WWII had antisemetic beliefs that were of such power and scope, that they led many ordinary Germans to perpetrate and support the destruction of the Jewish people He refutes competing claims such as that the Nazis forced them into killing He provides many detailed accounts of police squads killing without orders, and sometimes against orders He demonstrates that men in Police batallion This book makes a powerful argument It s main thesis is that the vast majority of Germans during and before WWII had antisemetic beliefs that were of such power and scope, that they led many ordinary Germans to perpetrate and support the destruction of the Jewish people He refutes competing claims such as that the Nazis forced them into killing He provides many detailed accounts of police squads killing without orders, and sometimes against orders He demonstrates that men in Police batallion 101 had opportunities to be transferred to non killing assignments but chose not to Even as the Germans were near defeat, many male and even female guards at prison camps continued to kill Jews to the very last moment Himmler had actually commanded them not to do this so he could better negotiate with the Americans They disobeyed the orders Goldhagen s findings are unsettling It is frighting to believe that a lie can be so powerful as to delude an entire culture Even the Christian church was largely deceived However, is this really so hard to accept when we study the history of man This book contradicts the Disney philosophy that there is good in everyone, you just have to look deep inside to find it Hitler s Willing Executioners is not an easy read It was Goldhagen s doctoral thesis and it reads like it There is some repetition and terms used can sometimes be obscure This is not a popular history However, there were many times when I could not put it down The argument breaks new ground and deserves the thorough treatment given to it This book really has pissed people off Goldhagen takes a very different view of Germans, Nazi or not, who actively helped in brutalizing and murdering Jews He claims they weren t forced to do it, but chose to They were not automatons blindly following orders, rather their particular brand of Jew hatred made them willing exterminators of people who had no power He does acknowledge other victims of Nazism, but this book is about German anti semitism and Jews That is a long enough story Many This book really has pissed people off Goldhagen takes a very different view of Germans, Nazi or not, who actively helped in brutalizing and murdering Jews He claims they weren t forced to do it, but chose to They were not automatons blindly following orders, rather their particular brand of Jew hatred made them willing exterminators of people who had no power He does acknowledge other victims of Nazism, but this book is about German anti semitism and Jews That is a long enough story Many critics fault him for not discussing Gypsies and homosexuals, but who has Probably the same despising of the Other that underlies Jew hatred also explains these victims In any event, he never pretends to be discussing anything except Jew hatred The history of it in Germany is well known as is the form it took Moreover, as he shows, none of the other groups targeted by the Nazis were treated with anything approaching the cruelty towards Jews from infancy on.Now that I ve finished, here is my final assessment When the German soldiers who were tried at Nuremburg after World War II said they weren t guilty because they were following orders, I and millions of others believed them If that were true, then were they guilty After all, even in America, soldiers had to follow orders.Later, when the horrors that Stalin visited upon the Russians became known, I understood that was the result of a dictatorship Since the American Press also called Hitler a dictator, I assumed that Germans, like Russians, had no say in what their government did As an American, my cognitive model of a dictator was that of a totalitarian government, one in which people had no freedom of choice at all Indeed, based I now realize on the Stalinist model, I presumed that Germans who protested Hitler s policies would be imprisoned Worse, I thought was that their families would be harmed Just recently I said to a friend, not Jewish, who made a remark about the German people, Well, Barnaby, I d like to think I d have helped out Jews, but if they would punish my family, I don t think I would have Most Americans thought that Stalin s rule and Hitler s were pretty much the same blind obedience or else However, Daniel Goldhagen shows convincingly that living under Hitler was quite different from living under Stalin, especially if you weren t Jewish Hitler wasn t a dictator as Stalin was He was voted into office by Germans, who were weary of the democracy that was forced on them after their defeat in 1918 The vote for Hitler was not a slim plurality and it was not a vote by lowlifes and thugs Germans of all classes not only voted for Hitler, and, as Goldhagen argues, they agreed wholeheartedly with the need to exterminate all the Jews in the world Goldhagen proves that this idea was rampant in Germany from the early 19th century on When Nazi troops marched into Austria, the cultured Viennese cheered with glee and immediately dragged the assimilated Austrian Jews out in the streets and made them scrub sidewalks while wearing their finest dress up clothes Meanwhile the oh so cultured Aryans laughed and enjoyed the show No, Hitler wasn t foisted on these people.Moreover, Germans could and did protest Hitler s policies and get them changed Goldhagen presents data from German records that prove this Three examples suffice One was Hitler s policy of killing mental defectives The Churches and the people protested and the so called euthanasia was stopped Second, when husbands of Aryan women were rounded up for deportation to death camps, the women demonstrated in the streets, even confronting the Gestapo and their husbands were released and spent the rest of the war in Germany in their homes with their wives Third, when Poles were brought in as forced laborers, Germans were ordered not to fraternize with them as they were inferior Slavs However, the Germans refused to obey, and, after a while, the restrictions were lifted.The most compelling evidence that the author provides is that which shows how much both soldiers and citizens enjoyed what they were doing to Jews He relies not only on eye witness accounts, but German records and even pictures that they took Goldhagen doesn t specifically mention Now Dwor, Poland, my grandfather s home town, but in researching my family history website, I came across a vivid account of what happened there at If you click on it, you ll find what a source for hilarity the Jews provided the German soldiers with for five unbelievable, but apparently rollicking years for the cultured Aryans What delights even the German officers thought up for amusement These delights involved the most degrading, cruel, foul, and depraved tortures I have ever heard of This site lends evencredence to Goldhagen s claims.In sum, I found Hitler s Willing Executioners a solidly researched book, based upon the records that the Nazis themselves kept, as well as his careful research into German anti Semitism Terrible, terrible, terrible.Provocative theory, but one which falls apart throughout his making the argument.