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Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers

Author: Christopher R. Browning
Hardcover (April 2000)
Cambridge Univ Pr (Short);
ISBN: 0521772990 ;
Dimensions (in inches): 0.07 x 9.23 x 6.22

208 Pages 6”x 9”map,
2 illustrations, footnotes, index

Customers who bought this book also bought:

Table of Contents

Map of Poland
From ``Ethnic Cleansing'' to Genocide to the ``Final Solution'': The Evolution of Nazi
Jewish Policy,
Nazi Policy: Decisions for the Final Solution
Jewish Workers in Poland: Self-Maintenance,
Exploitation, Destruction
Jewish Workers and Survivor Memories: The
Case of the Starachowice Labor Camp
German Killers: Orders from Above, Initiative
from Below, and the Scope of Local Autonomy
-- The Case of Brest--Litovsk
German Killers: Behavior and Motivation in
the Light of New Evidence

From Booklist February 15, 2000
Of four previous books, Browning is best known for Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992), a study of how it was possible for ordinary, middle-aged men to become mass murderers. His latest book is the result of six lectures given at Cambridge University, in which he examined three issues at the forefront of Holocaust scholarship: the decision-making and policy-making at the heart of the Nazi regime, out of which emerged the "final solution," the systematic attempt to murder all the Jews of Europe; the pragmatic and temporary use of Jewish labor; and the attitudes, motivations, and adaptations of the "ordinary" Germans who implemented Nazi policy at the local level. The source materials include both postwar testimonies and rare contemporary letters and document files that "speak less to the issue of decision and policy making and more to those elusive issues of individual attitudes and behavior." George Cohen

From Kirkus Reviews
paper 0-521-77490-X Given the recent headlines about the slave-labor reparations settlement in Germany, this new study from distinguished Holocaust historian Browning (Ordinary Men, 1992, etc.) is an important event. The six pieces herein, an expansion of Browning's 1995 Trevelyan lectures, fall, as the author notes, into three pairs. The first two consider policy-making processes that led to the Final Solution; the middle two focus on the tensions between pragmatism and ideology in the Reichs treatment of Jewish slave labor; and in the final pair Browning returns to the topic of Ordinary Men, using fresh evidence to re-examine the behavior of those who committed mass murder. The field of Holocaust studies changes by leaps and bounds, with new evidence becoming available almost daily as files from the former Soviet bloc and still unread materials from the Nazis themselves are evaluated by scholars. Much of what Browning has to say here grows out of such newly available materials. Although the conclusions he comes to are not significantly different from positions he has previously held, new details emerge that allow him to add nuance and depth. Hence, although he still persuasively maintains that the decisions leading to the Nazi attempt to murder all of Europe's Jews were an incremental, ongoing decision-making process that stretched from the spring of 1941 to the summer of 1942, his access to previously unavailable diaries of Joseph Goebbels and communications among Nazi leaders enrich our understanding of the ongoing internal tug-of-war over when and how to achieve that gruesome goal. Similarly, recent studies of regional decision-making give a fuller picture of the interplay of local and national interests in the carrying out of the mass murders. Browning is a methodical, if somewhat dry, writer and the result is an indispensable addition to the Holocaust bookshelf, though most valuable to specialists. Estimable scholarship, intelligently presented, but not a casual reader's book. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers

By Christopher R Browning

In 1999 the distinguished Holocaust scholar Christopher Browning gave the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge University. He decided to make three separate, though related, aspects of the Holocaust the focus of his lectures; these lectures, together with detailed references, constitute this important book. The references merit special mention because they demonstrate that in this, as in his other published works, Browning has brought to bear not only his meticulous attention to detail and context but has also drawn on a substantial number of significant sources that have hitherto remained unknown or closed to scholars. On the major topics touched on, therefore, the reader is provided with both the insights of a careful and experienced analyst of a central episode in the sad history of the 20th century and a first look at significant new materials that can now enrich our understanding.

Giving and receiving the orders

The three major issues dealt with in this book are the process by which the decision was made to kill every Jewish person the Germans could reach (seen in a formal as opposed to a theoretical sense); the utilization of the labor of Jews in Eastern Europe in the interval between German conquest and the actual killing; and the role of individual Germans in the killing process. While the first of the lectures deals with what evidence there is about the making of decisions at the highest levels of the German political and military hierarchy, the ones dealing with the other two subjects engage the day-to-day reality of German persecution and murder on the one hand and the reactions of Jewish victims on the other. In these the reader can obtain a sense of the differences in local situations, the way in which survivors recalled the differentiated behavior of those Germans who ruled over them, and the changes that came over the perpetrators as well as over the victims as the killing program moved ever more dramatically toward its stated goal.

The instruments of policy and their targets

Browning utilizes very different sources of new insights that enhance his account. The calendar showing when Heinrich Himmler met with Adolf Hitler illuminates the extent to which Himmler played a central role in pushing toward the realization of Hitler's aim. At the other end of the spectrum of perpetrators, we follow the letters of a policeman to his wife as he becomes ever more deeply implicated in murder. The accounts provided by a substantial number of Jewish survivors of one labor camp lead the reader into the daily horrors and the struggles of those caught in the toils of the most terrible conditions. Still another way of gaining a sense of the process is provided by the testimony of a man who acted as interpreter for the Germans. In all types of situations, the reader can follow the descent into ever more barbarous conduct, conduct accompanied by massive corruption of the perpetrators, both in what might be called a normal financial sense and in the development of their personalities.

An argument can be made that the series of lectures does not quite make a coherent book. But one can also legitimately argue that an event of great importance, stretching over several years and vast territories, can be brought into focus for both general readers and scholars by making it possible for them to look at some significant facets of it through a magnifying glass. It is this function that Browning's new book serves admirably.

ABOUT the AUTHOR: CHRISTOPHER R. BROWNING is the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the author of The Path to Genocide.

"Browning is one of the leaders in the study of the Holocaust and the essays in this book confirm his reputation .... He faxes on the victims and the perpetrators, using oral testimony and documentary evidence. There is a lot of drama in eactl story.. they offer both interesting theoretical perspectives, and substantive new information." -Robert Gellately, Strassler Professor in Holocaust History, Clark


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