Holocaust literature abounds, as survivors seek to bear witness and historians try to understand. So far the very magnitude of the satanic murder has inspired a kind of awed reticence about pronouncing overarching explanations. Now a 37-year-old political scientist from Harvard claims: "Explaining why the Holocaust occurred requires a radical revision of what has until now been written. This book is that revision." Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, published in this country in April and in Germany in early August, has become an international sensation, a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic.

The book is a deliberate provocation -- I consider this a neutral judgment. Provocations can shock people out of their settled, comfortable views; they can also be self-promoting attacks on earlier work and professional standards. Goldhagen's title is provocative and delivers his thesis: the executioners of Jews were willing murderers, who willingly chose to torment and kill their victims; they were ordinary Germans, not Nazi monsters, not specially trained or indoctrinated by party membership or ideology, but simply acting out of what Goldhagen calls the common German "eliminationist mind-set." And being "ordinary" Germans responding to a common "cognitive model" about Jews, their places could have been taken by millions of other ordinary Germans.

Goldhagen's book comes in two related parts: the explanatory model, or "the analytical framework," as he also calls it, and the empirical evidence. The parts are joined by a single intent: the indictment of a people. The duality of presentation marks the style as well. Goldhagen depicts horror and renders judgment in evocative and compelling phrases. He bolsters polemical certainty with concepts drawn from the social sciences, relying on the vaporous, dreary jargon of the worst of academic "discourse." Unintelligible diagrams distract, even as horrendous photographs confirm. "The book's intent is primarily explanatory and theoretical," he notes. Theory explains and, as there is a persistent mismatch between the powerful, unsparing description of Holocaust bestiality and simplistic theoretical explanation, theory triumphs. Astoundingly repetitive, the book has 125 pages of notes but, regrettably, no bibliography.

To say it at once: the book has some merit, especially in the middle section, which depicts three specific aspects of the Holocaust, and it has one overriding defect: it is in its essence unhistorical. It is unhistorical in positing that one (simplistically depicted) strain of the past, German antisemitism, explains processes that the author strips of their proper historical context; it is unhistorical in over and over again presenting suppositions as "incontestable" certainty. Sir Lewis Namier, a great English historian, once remarked that " . . . the historical approach is intellectually humble; the aim is to comprehend situations, to study trends, to discover how things work: and the crowning attainment of historical study is a historical sense -- an intuitive understanding of how things do not happen. . . . " Goldhagen's tone mocks humility, and he seems to lack any sense "of how things do not happen," of how complex human conduct and historical change really are.


Goldhagen begins with a disquisition of some hundred pages on what he believes is the peculiar character of German antisemitism, emphasizing medieval Christian hostility to Jews and concluding that in the largely secularized Germany of the nineteenth century this doctrinal hostility sharpened into a racial one, demonizing Jews as alien, as the enemy that needed to be eliminated. This version is of course dangerously close to the old clichŽ that a clear line of authoritarian, antisemitic thought runs from Luther to Hitler and was largely responsible for the triumph of Nazism.

Goldhagen draws on the rich literature about German antisemitism even as he dismisses it, distills what is useful for his thesis while ignoring whatever might contradict or complicate it, and then celebrates the originality of his own version. The result is a potpourri of half-truths and assertions, all meant to support his claim that German antisemitism was unique in its abiding wish to eliminate Jews, its "eliminationist mind-set." He suggests that one needs to look at Germans as anthropologists look at preliterate societies; they are not like "us," meaning Americans or Western Europeans.

He considers but dismisses the need to compare German antisemitism to other varieties, although we know that antisemitism was endemic in the Western world. Some scholars, including George L. Mosse and Zeev Steinhell, have plausibly argued that before 1914 French antisemitism was more pervasive and more aggressive than German antisemitism (on the other hand, French defense of Jews was more vigorous than similar efforts in Germany). Or take a perhaps even more revealing comparison: a leading historian of Germany, James J. Sheehan, wrote in 1992 that "animosity towards Jews [in the pre-1914 era] was substantially stronger in Austria than in Germany," and estimated "that whereas Austrians made up less than 10 per cent of the population of Hitler's Reich, they were involved in half the crimes associated with the Holocaust." Goldhagen certainly knows that thousands of non-Germans were willing executioners, willing auxiliaries to the Holocaust. But their motivation or, indeed, their historical role, is of no interest to him.

Even in his discussion of German antisemitism he fails to make the necessary distinctions. There was a wide range of attitudes toward Jews, from those few who did indeed see them as the enemy and chief corrupters of their society -- as "vermin" to be exterminated -- to those men and women who welcomed Jews but regretted what they saw as Jewish "pushiness" or preeminence in some realms. Goldhagen takes remarks out of context and treats almost equally the ranting of the rabble-rouser and the private musings confined to a writer's diary. Everything is grist for his mill.[1]

A Goldhagen version of antisemitism in twentieth-century America might lump Eleanor Roosevelt's early remarks about "Jew-boys" in Franklin's law school class with Henry Ford's championing of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or Father Coughlin's tirades. Only by summary judgment and indifference to nuance can Goldhagen contend that in the nineteenth century "German society . . . was axiomatically antisemitic." And hence, "It is thus incontestable that the fundamentals of Nazi antisemitism . . . had deep roots in Germany, was part of the cultural cognitive model of German society, and was integral to German political culture . . . It is incontestable that this racial antisemitism which held the Jews to pose a mortal threat to Germany was pregnant with murder" (my italics). Incontestable? I would say unprovable and implausible.


The very Germany Goldhagen discusses was the country in which Jews had made the most extraordinary leaps to cultural and economic prominence. But Goldhagen omits this integral element of history. After emancipation and after legal equality was decreed in 1869, German Jews began their astounding ascendancy. Their achievements were the envy of Jews elsewhere. It is perfectly true that any hope they had for complete acceptance remained unfulfilled. They knew that they were being treated as second-class citizens, and their very successes heightened their vulnerability. But this was a society at once dynamically expanding and severely weakened by internal strains; it seems odd to single out "eliminationist antisemitism" as the key social dynamic and say nothing of the still sharp antagonisms between Protestants and Catholics, or the intense class conflict that Germans called "the social question" and that weighed on them far more than "the Jewish question" did.

The salience of German antisemitism varied with the mood and condition of German politics. During the Great War these politics became radicalized, and by 1917, when hope for total victory turned to apprehension of defeat, an enraged right wing fastened on violent, chauvinist, antisemitic beliefs; but for many other Germans defeat was the result of internal enemies, the Weimar Republic was a Jewish excrescence in German politics, and both Marxism and Bolshevism were Jewish machinations. Men and women on the left or liberal end of the German political spectrum rejected these delusions and defended the Republic, in which Jews had achieved a certain political prominence. Of all this Goldhagen says very little; the Great War, during which both Jewish patriotism and German antisemitism flourished as never before, is mentioned in only one paragraph. This distorted view of German political culture is unconvincing in its simplicity.


Scholars have long debated whether Hitler's antisemitism was central to his electoral victories at the end of the Weimar years. It is generally accepted that the more the National Socialists tried to widen their appeal, the more they muted their antisemitic theme. In one of Hitler's key addresses in 1932, for example, he hardly alluded to Jews at all. Yet Goldhagen insists: "The centrality of antisemitism in the Party's world, program and rhetoric -- if in a more avowedly elaborated and violent form -- mirrored the sentiments of German culture." Actually, it exposed the sentiments of only some Germans. In the last free elections in 1932, some 67 percent of the German electorate did not vote for Hitler, although no doubt even among these there were groups that harbored suspicion and dislike of Jews. Perhaps many Germans had some measure of antisemitism in them but lacked the murderous intent that Goldhagen ascribes to National Socialism. Put bluntly: for Goldhagen, as for the National Socialists, Hitler was Germany.

But was antisemitism the sole or even the most important bond between Hitler and the Germans? Was it responsible for the failure of Germans to protest the first terrorist measures of the regime, the suppression of civil rights, the establishment of concentration camps in March 1933? The existence of the camps was made public specifically because they were intended to destroy political enemies and to intimidate potential opposition. From the very beginning the Nazis used every vicious means of humiliation and terror -- in public sometimes, within the insulated realm of the camps always -- against all opponents, real and imagined, German or German Jew, man or woman. They unleashed their pent-up savagery on Socialists and Communists (with the greatest brutality if they happened to be Jews as well). Men were beaten in these camps, and murdered -- yet silence was pervasive among the Germans, who had begun to exult in their society's outward order and slowly returning prosperity and power. Would Goldhagen not acknowledge the likelihood of some link between Germans so sadistically falling upon their fellow Germans and their treatment of people whom they came to demonize -- Jews and Slavs in particular?

The silence, and in some cases the easy acquiescence of the German elites, including those in churches, universities, and the civil service, have long been considered moral and civic failures of portentous importance. They saw their own freedoms threatened, their own principles violated; yet they showed, in Norbert Elias's phrase, "a lust for submission." They met with silence the first extrusionary acts against Jews; only very few protested when colleagues were removed from their posts or lost their jobs, when friends were ostracized, when all Jews were made the target of steady abuse. One must remember that active protest against the National Socialist regime in the spring of 1933 would not have demanded martyrdom -- far from it. The price for the exercise of decency rose only when the regime became stronger.

Goldhagen argues that the road to Auschwitz was straight, and he pays little heed to the improvisations and uncertainties of the regime's first five years. Yet policies during that period aimed at the extrusion, not the extermination, of Jews, at their isolation and impoverishment, so as to drive them out of the country. Goldhagen rightly emphasizes both the antisemitic propaganda of the time and the way Jews were already to some degree "fair game"; yet in Germany there were few acts of spontaneous violence against them, as compared to the explosion of sadistic antisemitism in Austria immediately following the Anschluss. Nevertheless, for Goldhagen it is in Germany that the "eliminationist" mindset was most virulent.

Goldhagen rightly ponders the Germans' responses to the Reich pogrom in November 1938 known as Kristallnacht, with its burning of synagogues, smashing of Jewish property, and public arrest of some 30,000 male Jews who were then herded into concentration camps. He notes that "the world reacted with moral revulsion and outrage, the German people failed to exhibit equivalent revulsion and outrage -- and principled dissent from the antisemitic model that underlay the night's depredation -- even though what had occurred was done in their name, in their midst, to defenseless people, and to their countrymen" (Goldhagen's italics). But Goldhagen has been at pains to demonstrate that Germans had never regarded Jews as their countrymen. He continues: "This, perhaps the most revealing day of the entire Nazi era, the day on which an opportunity presented itself for the German people to rise up in solidarity with their fellow citizens, was the day on which the German people sealed the fate of the Jews by letting the authorities know that they concurred in the unfolding eliminationist enterprise, even if they objected, sometimes vociferously, to some of its measures." What a historical aberration! What chance was there for a people "to rise up" against a firmly entrenched terrorist regime that, moreover, had just scored the most extraordinary peaceful triumphs of incorporating Austria and emasculating Czechoslovakia -- and all this with the passive or even active support of the western democracies. The November horror occurred six weeks after the Munich Conference and a month before the signing of a special Franco-German friendship treaty. If Germans "concurred in the unfolding eliminationist enterprise," why did the National Socialist regime make such strenuous efforts to hide its later crimes from them, to carry them out, as the famous phrase put it, "in night and fog," to place the early extermination camps outside the borders of the Reich? Was it afraid of phantoms?

Moreover, Goldhagen slights the acts of decency that did occur, every act at the risk of horrible retribution. (In general, these acts of decency and defiance have received too little attention, especially in Germany itself.)

American readers will soon be able to read German works in translation that either supplement or balance Goldhagen's version of events. The diaries of Victor Klemperer, kept in secret from 1933 to 1945 and only now published, have been a bestseller in Germany. They record the sentiments and sufferings of a Jewish professor married to a Christian; they offer a nuanced picture of both the Germans' brutality and callousness toward Jews and their moments of decency and quiet help. Wolfgang Sofsky's The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp, appearing in the United States this fall, is a major study that characterizes the camp as the emblematic institution of the Nazi regime and insists "that the universe of the concentration camp is unprecedented in its torture and destruction," in its organized effort at degradation and murder. Goldhagen's one-sided remarks about the antisemitic attitudes and even murderous complicity with the regime of some of the heroic men who tried to kill Hitler in July 1944 receives more thorough and balanced attention in Joachim Fest's Plotting Hitler's Death: The Story of the German Resistance.


Less than half of this irksomely repetitive book deals with Goldhagen's own research into three specific aspects of the Holocaust: the murderous conduct of police battalions (the ordinary men of the title), the misnamed work camps that were way stations on the road to death, and the death marches at the end of the war. Goldhagen focuses on the perpetrators, particularly on their putative motives, and gives most terrifying, memorable accounts of their wanton cruelty. He reminds us that a very large number of Jews perished not in the gas chambers but by means of executions, planned starvation, and induced disease, always amidst unspeakable bestiality.

Goldhagen examines the lives and cruelties of the men of the 101st Police Battalion -- a reconstruction made possible by the thorough record of a German prosecutorial investigation conducted after 1945. These men, most of them from the lower or lower-middle class in Hamburg, tended to be older than soldiers; most of them were family men and only a few of them were members of any Nazi organization. In 1992, Christopher R. Browning published Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, a meticulous study of precisely this same police battalion of 500 men, in which he examined their backgrounds and vicious deeds, their massacres of Jews -- men, women, and children in Poland -- just because they were Jews. The commander offered his men nonpunitive exemption from such horror as killing mothers and babies, but most men participated (as happened elsewhere), some with apparent sadistic satisfaction, some even though they had wives with them in Poland who knew and on occasion saw what their husbands did.

Goldhagen analyzes much of the same material but fiercely rejects Browning's account of the murderers' motives. Browning acknowledges the effect of the relentless Nazi propaganda against the Jews but wisely considers what other factors may have been responsible, including the fear of breaking ranks, acknowledging "weakness," and, in a few cases, considerations of career advancement. Goldhagen will have none of this. He insists on a monocausal explanation: antisemitic beliefs alone accounted for this behavior. Browning thinks that "the historian who attempts to 'explain' [this behavior] is indulging in a certain arrogance." True.[2]

Next Goldhagen analyzes some of the so-called work camps, in which Jews were treated as worse than slaves, whipped to perform such senseless tasks as carrying rocks from one end of the camp to the other and back again. They were meant to die at hard, purposeless labor; they were starved, beaten, and killed, caught in a hell ruled by dogs and the whims of all-powerful sadist-guards (not all of them German). Jews were destined for extermination in these work camps, even as the Reich suffered from a labor shortage that led it to exploit more than seven million foreign slave laborers. Goldhagen emphasizes the economic irrationality of this strategy, citing it as proof once again of the primacy of the German drive to exterminate Jews. True, but there were many other instances of both economic irrationality and cruelty to non-Jews that were just as injurious to German interests.

The book's most gripping chapter concerns the death marches that began in the winter of 1944 and spring of 1945, when Jews, separated from non-Jewish fellow prisoners, were hounded from camp to camp as the Allied armies closed in on Germany. Goldhagen concentrates on one hellish march in particular, the 22-day trek from the Helmbrechts camp in Franconia to a place some 120 miles away, across the Czech border. The march "began and ended in slaughter." From the first, Jews were beaten, killed, or left to freeze, starve, and die under conditions far worse than the abominations that non-Jews suffered. All this in spite of the fact that Himmler had given orders -- for his own opportunistic reasons -- to cease killing Jews. The guards on this march disregarded the orally transmitted order and indulged in crazed sadism, women guards showing special cruelty. (A few Germans tried to throw the prisoners scraps of bread, but the guards brutally prevented such succor.) Goldhagen's passion finds its best expression in this and other accounts of harrowing horror. He recounts these scenes of utter inhumanity with admirable fortitude. But the ever- repeated judgment is of course less compelling: "These Germans . . . were voluntaristic actors . . . Their trueness to meting out suffering and death was not an imposed behavior; it came from within, an expression of their innermost selves."

Reviewers have commented on the originality of his treatment of the death marches. Actually, Martin Gilbert's Holocaust -- a book Goldhagen does not mention -- gives an overview of the marches from accounts of the few survivors, focusing on the victims and not on the few known perpetrators.

All these acts of barbarism, these human enactments of the worst of Hieronymous Bosch's nightmares, were committed by Germans (and, Goldhagen notwithstanding, by non-Germans) who, according to Goldhagen, felt neither shame nor compunction. The Jew was the enemy, at once all-powerful and subhuman; the demonization had struck roots. Goldhagen wants to correct a perspective that focuses on "the desk murderers." The Holocaust was more than a bureaucratic operation; it was not the work of so many banal cogs in the wheels of evil. But while he rightly points to the thousands of individual tormentors and murderers, Goldhagen tends to underplay the powerful role of the state apparatus that gave those murderers license, one that involved the collaborative efforts of the rulers of the Reich and their servants, officials in multiple ministries, party desk officers, the government, the army, the judiciary, and the medical establishment.

Goldhagen singles out those murderers who were "ordinary Germans" and who, he insists, were motivated solely by their "cognitive model" of the Jew. He then moves from specific and harrowing examples to a grotesque extrapolation: having examined the acts of some hundreds or perhaps even thousands of people, he insists that almost all Germans were moved by the same hatred, approved the killing, would have acted in like fashion if chance had so decreed. As he writes, " . . . the institutions treated here . . . should permit the motivations of the perpetrators in those particular institutions to be uncovered, and also allow for generalizing both to the perpetrators as a group and to the second target group of this study, the German people." The leap from individual cases to the German people at large is unpersuasive, but necessary for his indictment of his "second target group."

Some 50 years ago, at the end of the war, this view of the uniqueness of German criminality was commonly held. It was once a comforting certainty that Germans and only Germans were capable of such organized atrocities -- for which Goldhagen is the first to assign a single motive. But in time the interpretation of the Holocaust became more differentiated, less self-exculpatory; we also know more about atrocities today, whether in Cambodia, Biafra, or Bosnia.

Can one even try to explain the Holocaust (the horror of which for many, myself included, somehow eludes understanding) without regard to its historical context? Should one? The Inferno occurred at a given historical moment, at a time of mounting barbarism and moral indifference, which had returned to Europe in unimaginable force during the Great War, barely diminished in the interwar years, and reached an apogee during this second world war. National Socialism, we know, was at once Germany's most criminal and most popular regime, Hitler the century's most charismatic leader. The terror that he launched in Germany spread to conquered Europe: German troops of various formations extended the terror to Poland, Russia, Greece, everywhere. Thus villages were burned, hostages shot, and men, women, and children hounded, starved, separated, and killed -- all that and everywhere. There were thousands of massacres in Poland, and 2.5 million Russian prisoners of war were deliberately starved to death. The links that connect this pervasive brutality to the systematic extermination of European Jewry cannot be found in specific documents or individual decisions, but can those links be doubted? Furthermore, scholars have now established that both Germans and non-Germans knew far more far earlier about the Holocaust and the atrocities in the east than was once assumed. But most of these people worried about their own predicaments and tried to preserve their complacent self-regard, their moral self-esteem, by choosing not to know or believe -- a denial that has marked much of the world in our century. In brief: the Holocaust took place in the long night of organized bestiality. That is its context.


Hitler's Willing Executioners and its reception in this country aroused instant concern in Germany. As early as April, the German media organized extensive discussions on the book; some of the talk was favorable, as were the first reviews in America, but much of it was critical, sometimes in an ad hominem way.[3] In early August, just before the German translation was published, Die Zeit, Germany's celebrated weekly, which had already given uncommon, perhaps unwarranted, attention to the book, allotted Goldhagen exceptional space to respond to what he called "The Failure of the Critics." In his response, Goldhagen attacked all his critics and rejected all their arguments -- with dazzling arrogance. He accused them not only of failing to answer central questions, but even of failing to ask them: "If then they are confronted with a book that delivers precisely these answers, then they react in a rage that makes one think of people who want to silence someone because he touches on a long-preserved taboo." But these scholarly critics include precisely those liberal German historians who for decades have done the most to analyze and document the nature and atrocities of the Third Reich, who by meticulous research have established the complicity of so many German individuals and institutions, including the churches and the Wehrmacht. Goldhagen nowhere acknowledges the immense, courageous labors of these German historians and writers, who have presented their people with as stark and honest a portrait of their past as is possible -- and have done so to the irritation of many "ordinary Germans" who would prefer not to be reminded of the uniqueness of that past.

Der Spiegel, which also has extensively covered the sensation that is Goldhagen, reports that the German translation (which I have not seen), with a new introduction by the author, modifies or mutes some of his more sweeping allegations. In his many interviews he has taken pains to highlight the exculpation that appears in a mere note at the end of the American edition, where he writes that he did not mean "to imply that a timeless German character exists. The character structure and the common cognitive models of Germans have developed and evolved historically and, especially since the loss of the Second World War, have changed dramatically." In his appearances in September before German audiences, Goldhagen denied ever having had the notion of collective guilt and seemed eager to attenuate such sentences in the book as "Germany during the Nazi period was inhabited by a people animated by beliefs about Jews that made them willing to become consenting mass murderers." His subject of course touched the deepest German questions of guilt and individual responsibility, and did so, apparently, in a fashion different from the book. It would seem that he tried to please his German audiences.[4]

Hitler's Willing Executioners was a best-seller in this country, and it sold 80,000 copies in the first four weeks after its publication in Germany. Some Germans have remarked to me that whatever the book's flaws, it should be welcomed because it will reinvigorate the debate and stimulate new scholarship. Der Spiegel has made this same point, as has the distinguished American historian Gordon Craig. But the book also reinforces and reignites earlier prejudices: latent anti-German sentiment among Americans, especially Jews, and a sense among Germans that Jews have a special stake in commemorating the Holocaust, thereby keeping Germany a prisoner of its past. The book is now a major datum in German-American relations. Perhaps it could be viewed as an academic equivalent of the simplistic television series "Holocaust," which also had an enormous impact.

The astounding reception of so polemical and pretentious a book can hardly be attributed solely to its topic or thesis. Shrill and simplistic explanations of monstrous crimes obviously command attention. But there is more at work here: the author's ceaseless boast of radical originality was endorsed on the book's jacket by two well-known scholars, both distinguished in fields other than German history -- and between them praising Goldhagen's work as "phenomenal scholarship and absolute integrity . . . impeccable scholarship, a profound understanding of modern German history . . . obligatory reading." The American and German publishers touted the book with all the great promotional power at their command. Perhaps Goldhagen's manipulated, public-relations-orchestrated success tells us more about the culture of the present than the book's substance tells us about the horrors of the past.

[1] A sample of Goldhagen's modus operandi is his only reference to Thomas Mann: "Thomas Mann, who had already long been an outstanding opponent of Nazism, could nevertheless find some common ground with the Nazis . . . 'it is no great misfortune that . . . the Jewish presence in the judiciary has been ended.' The dominant cultural cognitive model of Jews and the eliminationist mindset that it spawned was dominant in Germany." A note indicates that he takes the citation from an essay of mine in which I quoted passages from Mann's journal.

I consider Mann, married to Katia Pringsheim, the daughter of a prominent Jewish family, perhaps the best example of the ambiguity and complexity of German antisemitism, and I cited this passage, written in the early months of the regime, precisely because of its fascinating vacillation of tone and meaning. The very next-indeed, inseparable-sentence, which Goldhagen omits, suggests Mann's own distaste at his thoughts, which he characterizes as "secret, disquieting, intense," but the passage concludes with his musing that the process of historical change, just recently initiated by the Nazis, had in it "nonetheless things that are revoltingly malevolent, base, un-German in the highest sense. But I am beginning to suspect that their process could well be of that kind that has two sides."

Another example: he mentions the late Israeli scholar Uriel Tal's comment on liberal disappointment with Jews in the late nineteenth century but omits that Tal observed in the same context: "Political and racial antisemitism during this period [the Second Reich] failed to exert any appreciable public influence, and whatever effectiveness it had was limited to short intervals and restricted regions."

Such procedures from someone who can be so censorious of others. In 1989 Goldhagen reviewed an earlier thesis-driven book on the Holocaust saying: "But it is itself an artful construction of half-truths, itself in the service of an ideology. And it is riddled with extraordinary factual errors which amount to a pattern of falsification and distortion."

[2] In an extremely odd note, Goldhagen dismisses Browning, saying that the plausibility of "his explanation depends upon a person's own understanding of the cynicism of people. Scholars who believe that for a promotion or for a few marks, these Germans were willing to slaughter Jews by the thousands should also believe that for tenure at a university . . . virtually all their colleagues today, and they themselves, would mow down innocent people by the thousands."

[3] The first book about the book has just appeared, a collection of critiques published in Germany, also with a provocative title: Julius H. Schoeps, ed., Ein Volk von Mšrdern? Die Dokumentation zur Goldhagen-Kontroverse um die Rolle der Deutschen im Holocaust (A people of murderers? Documentation concerning the Goldhagen controversy about the role of the Germans in the Holocaust), Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1996.

[4] According to German press reports, he did so triumphantly. In my brief visit to Germany in early October, I was told that his charm, telegenic presence, and conciliatory manner enthralled his public and bested his critics. German commentators remained puzzled, as I am, by the discrepancy between the public acclaim and the scholarly criticism, coming especially from the liberal side, and by the discrepancy between the writer's arrogance and the speaker's appealing modesty.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now