The Years of Extermination
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945Book - 2007
Examines the anti-Semitism that led to Nazi Germany's attempts to exterminate Europe's Jewish population, focusing on the people and events from the Nazi accession to power in 1933 to the onset of World War II
With The Years of Extermination, Saul Friedländer completes his major historical work on Nazi Germany and the Jews. The book describes and interprets the persecution and murder of the Jews throughout occupied Europe. The enactment of German extermination policies and measures depended on the cooperation of local authorities, the assistance of police forces, and the passivity of the populations, primarily of their political and spiritual elites. This implementation depended as well on the victims’ readiness to submit to orders, often with the hope of attenuating them or of surviving long enough to escape the German vise.
This multifaceted study—at all levels and in different places—enhances the perception of the magnitude, complexity, and interrelatedness of the many components of this history. Based on a vast array of documents and an overwhelming choir of voices—mainly from diaries, letters, and memoirs—Saul Friedländer avoids domesticating the memory of these unprecedented and horrific events. The convergence of these various aspects gives a unique quality to The Years of Extermination. In this work, the history of the Holocaust has found its definitive representation.
Completing the work begun with The Years of Persecution; Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1939, Friedländer (history, U. of California at Los Angeles) has produced an ambitious study of the Holocaust that seeks to integrate understandings of the Holocaust as it played out across Europe; macro-level determinants of German anti-Jewish policies; micro-level experiences and reactions on the part of Germans, their collaborators, occupied peoples, and Jewish victims; and interactions between central ideological-cultural determinants of German policies and institutional dynamics, the evolution of the war, and other circumstances. Among his major themes is the crisis of liberalism and the reaction against communism as ideological sources of anti-Semitism. He argues that, "for a regime dependent on constant mobilization, the Jew served as the constant mobilizing myth" that represented evil per se in each facet of the tripartite mythology of Hitler as a quasiprovidential leader come to bring the Germans salvation in the form of the "ultimate purity of the racial community, the ultimate crushing of Bolshevism and plutocracy, and the ultimate millennial redemption." Beyond this central ideological-cultural question, he also explores how European social institutions failed to serve as a countervailing interest to Nazi extermination policies; attitudes and reactions of bystanders, Jewish leaders, and other actors; the myriad counteractions taken by individual Jews in response to the Holocaust; and issues of witness and historical remembrance. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
An authoritative account of the Holocaust goes beyond usual historical studies to include coverage of the reactions of period world authorities, religious groups, and social groups, in a volume that draws on more than thirty years of research. By the author of Nazi Germany and the Jews.