Doris L. Bergen: War and Genocide A Concise History of the Holocaust Critical Issues in History



Have to Bergen argues that the Nazi power structure was such that there was constant pressure on Nazi leaders to anticipate Hitler s aims Thus Hitler had only to make his desires the slightest bit known for them to be enactedBergen also places a heavy burden of blame on the German public Bergen believes that without the support and silence of the German general public the Holocaust could not have been enacted She gives several examples of German public protest hindering the enactment of certain racial initiatives or at least driving them underground such as in the case of early medical experimentation on the mentally ill As for why the German public did not generally do this Bergen provides a variety of reasons but no monolithic explanation For her it merely seems most important that they did not This is a huge loss as Bergen seems to think that early protest by the German public might have been the only way to prevent the Holocaust Instead many profited from and supported Nazi measures particularly those against Jews It should also be noted that by giving so much agency to the German public Bergen dismisses the contention that foreign powers might have been able to prevent the HolocaustAs for what Hitler s core beliefs were Bergen uses the phrase race and space 36 She claims that Hitler believed the various ethnic races of the world were locked in a battle of survival with one another and thus for a race to win it needed to have room or territory The race most vilified in Hitler s system was the Jews Thus while Bergen makes it clear that the Nazis attacked several other groups in the Holocaust such as Roma the mentally handicapped homosexuals and Jehovah s Witnesses Bergen presents their sufferings as part and part of a system that was ultimately designed for the annihilation of Jews She is not without sensitivity to the plight of all of those harmed however Although the book is largely written in an objective tone the passages on the atrocities committed are laced with individual anecdotes and photos obviously meant to respect the humanity of those harmed while also reiterating the horrific events of the Holocaust Bergen also contends that Nazi war aims were fundamentally intertwined with Nazi racial policy due to the close linkage between race and space This not only explains why so much manpower and resources were devoted to the murder of those persons considered unfit during the war period but presents the sharp reminder that without Nazi victories in Czechoslavakia Austria Poland France and other areas the Nazis would have been simply unable to harm the populations deemed unfit within those countries The book is structured around these links between race and space linking various phases of the German mobilization and war effort to phases of the HolocaustAlthough Bergen s book certainly presents a streamlined account of the Holocaust her own account seems oversimplified Often her own evidence could be used against her For instance she tells the tale of a gentleman who informed the United States of the concentration camps rather early on during World War II but Bergen still contends that other countries cannot be held accountable for not acting as they could not possibly have understood the nature of the atrocities Although Bergen s stance on multiple historiographic arguments is clear she could have provided evidence defending her point of vie. Nd genocide purification of the so called Aryan race and expansion of its living space and discusses how these goals affected the course of World War II Including first hand accounts from perpetrators victims and eyewitnesses the book is immediate human and eminently readable.

A book read for a class A well written concise oversight of the main issues of the holocaust I enjoyed reading it not because of the subject matter but because it was presented in an easily understandable manner This book calls itself a concise history of the Holocaust but it felt like it was a lot about the war in Europe than about the genocide Still the title reflects the dual nature of this work and the author makes the argument that to really understand the holocaust you have to contextualize it with the war that brought it about Overall it was good if disturbing because of the nature of the subject I don t think she should have taken out any of the parts about the war but I feel like she could have told me about the Holocaust Still it is a good primer for anyone wanting an introduction into the subject She also does a good ob of detailing the groups that got caught up in the Holocaust the Jews but also the Gypsies Homosexuals Jehovah s Witnesses the handicapped etc Great update to the Holocaust literature This book incorporates the most recent history of the Holocaust Jewish and non Jewish victims are featured though the emphasis is on the former since their destruction was the initial aim of the Nazi genocide Bergen documents the Nazi persecution of the Jews from inception to Holocaust Victims perspective is included throughout and Bergen makes good use of photographs to add insight into the role of participants victims and bystanders Useful as a textbook to classes on the Holocaust or genocide As with any study dealing with the Holocaust it is never a pleasure read Reading this book for a graduate course in WWII was extremely difficult not because of the level of language but the subject matter itself Doris Bergen does fulfill the word concise in this work In 310 pages of reading text she gives a power packed overview of how widespread the Holocaust was and the many groups of people marked in the Nazi program of annihilation A huge plus for this book is the number of photographs that are included with details about each one This is a definite must have for any WWIIHolocaust library shelf I found War and Genocide to be an interesting read because it covered some niche areas that were not focused on in other books I was reading at that same time While Bergen doesn t spend as much time on the broad concepts of the war she definitely touches on them she digs in to smaller issues for example other victims of the Nazi actions She analyzes the effects on the Jews but also homosexuals Communists the disabled and This was what I found new and informative because I had not heard of attacks on other populations during the rise of the Nazi party in other classes or readings which focus primarily on the attack on Jews Bergen sticks with her thesis of the Nazi race and space rationale throughout the entire book The structure of this book is one that is easily readable and actually lends itself to bite sized reading the sections are short and many so you can certainly read this in between different events in your day Also included throughout the text are many photos that enhance the reading I always find photos integrated into the text useful than a section centralized to the center of the text because you are provided with context Interspersed in the text are anecdotal stories of everyday people who experienced something related to the focus of that. In examining one of the defining events of the 20th century Doris Bergen situates the Holocaust in its historical political social cultural and military contexts Unlike many other treatments of the Holocaust Nazism World War II and the Holocaust discusses not only the persecu.

Section for example the stories of children forced into hidingAt the end of the text the author provides an extensive list of sources that you can go to for further reading broken up by chapters but it doesn t have a standard bibliography or footnotes which makes it challenging to fact check but makes the book readableIf you are looking for a book that will give you a solid overview and understanding of the Nazi evolution and WWII this isn t that book But if you already have an understanding of the generalities and are looking for a book that will dig in to different aspects this might be the book for yetThis review was previously posted at The Maiden s Court blog Certainly the best introduction to the topic I ve come across not to mention a book that is incredibly incredibly well writtenIn order for a house to burn down three things are reuired the timber must be dry and combustible there needs to be a spark that ignites it and external conditions have to be favorable not too damp perhaps some wind This is the best synopsis of the Holocaust I have ever read It is very concise yet challenges some common historical inaccuracies such as the over stated significance of the Treaty of Versailles in causing the Germans to become so hateful These different perspectives are well researched documented and supported I think this is a book that anyone who loves history would enjoy Nevertheless if you aren t a history buff you may find it a bit dry I however really enjoyed it and learned a great deal from it It had me consider the Holocaust from a different perspective Considerable time is dedicated in the book to understanding the atrocities of Stalin and the Soviet Union upon the Jews during this same time period I found it fascinating It was so good that I will probably try to read every book in the series of Critical Issues in History I don t give this five stars because i enjoyed reading it Rather because I struggled reading it Saying that this is a book I truly believe everyone should read this It s haunting but important The most thorough account of Holocaust I ve ever encountered Extremely well written and insightful Starts with a look at the tinders that made the Holocaust possible then an overview of Hitler s life from childhood to eventual F hrer There is a close exam Doris Bergen s War and Genocide A Concise History of the Holocaust presents a straightforward account of the Holocaust Rather than starting from a particular chronological point Bergen begins with a short history of several thematic elements that she believes influenced German society and the beliefs of Adolf Hitler leading to the rise of Nazism These include antisemitism racism eugenics imperialism and the cheapening of human life in World War I Significantly absent are notions of economic crisis harsh reparations and a weak Weimar democracy all three of which Bergen believes are tropes which carry too much weight in the historiography of the Holocaust For Bergen Hitler is the key to the Holocaust Bergen holds what she calls a modified intentionalist position 30 She argues that the Holocaust was Hitler s intention from even before his rise to power arguing against the contention that atrocities of the Holocaust were made up on the fly during the context of war She does not believe however that Hitler single handedly directed the entirety of the Holocaust largely because he did not. Tion of Jews but also other segments of society victimized by the Nazis gypsies homosexuals Poles Soviet POWs the handicapped and other groups deemed undesirable With clear and elouent prose Bergen explores the two interconnected goals that drove the Nazi program of conuest

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Doris Bergen