Perpetrators
"Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions." Primo Levi's words disclose a chilling truth: assigning blame to hideous political leaders, such as Hitler, Himmler, and Heydrich, is necessary but not sufficient to explain how the Holocaust could have happened. These leaders, in fact, relied on many thousands of ordinary men and women who made the Nazi machine work on a daily basis--members of the killing squads, guards accompanying the trains to the extermination camps, civilian employees of the SS, the drivers of gas trucks, and the personnel of death factories such as Auschwitz. Why did these ordinary people collaborate and willingly become mass murderers? In Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers, Guenter Lewy tries to answer one of history's most disturbing questions. Lewy draws on a wealth of previously untapped sources, including letters and diaries of soldiers who served in Russia, the recollections of Jewish survivors, archival documents, and most importantly, the trial records of hundreds of Nazi functionaries. The result is a ghastly, extraordinarily detailed portrait of the Holocaust perpetrators, their mindset, and the motivations for their actions. Combining a rigorous historical analysis with psychological insight, the book explores the dynamics of participation in large-scale atrocities, offering a thought-provoking and timely reflection on individual responsibility for collective crimes. Lewy concludes that the perpetrators acted out of a variety of motives--a sense of duty, obedience to authority, thirst for career, and a blind faith in anti-Semitic ideology, among others. A witness to the 1938 Kristallnacht himself and the son of a concentration camp survivor, Lewy has searched for the reasons of the Holocaust out of far more than theoretical interest: it is a passionate attempt to illuminate a dismal chapter of his life--and of human history--that cannot be forgotten.

Perpetrators Details

TitlePerpetrators
Author
ReleaseJul 1st, 2017
PublisherOUP USA
ISBN-139780190661137
Rating
GenreWorld War II, Holocaust, History

Perpetrators Review

  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I have to admit that I am thankful this book was short. I have read many books on the holocaust, I have been to the Holocaust Museums in Washington and Jerusalem. I have been to the Dachau concentration camp, so I have some knowledge of the subject. This book went into brutal detail of how the perpetrators rolled out the Final Solution from Babi Yar to Auschwitz, so of which I knew, but not to that amount of detail. The author goes into great detail of the trials after the war. I had no idea how I have to admit that I am thankful this book was short. I have read many books on the holocaust, I have been to the Holocaust Museums in Washington and Jerusalem. I have been to the Dachau concentration camp, so I have some knowledge of the subject. This book went into brutal detail of how the perpetrators rolled out the Final Solution from Babi Yar to Auschwitz, so of which I knew, but not to that amount of detail. The author goes into great detail of the trials after the war. I had no idea how lenient the German courts were, compared with the Allied courts. All in all, I am glad I read this book
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