Cover image for The Holocaust : a German historian examines the genocide
The Holocaust : a German historian examines the genocide
Benz, Wolfgang.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Holocaust. English
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xi, 186 pages ; 21 cm

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Material Type
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D804.3 .B45413 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The history of the Holocaust keeps being written and rewritten in ever greater detail, but almost always by Jews. Wolgang Benz's book makes an important contribution by bringing the German perspective to this horrific event. A masterpiece of compression, the books covers all the major topics and issues, from the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, to stripping Jews of their civil rights, from the establishment of ghettos to the creation of killing centers and the development of an efficient system for extermination. The book also includes a chapter on "The Other Genocide: The Persecution of the Sinti and Roma," detailing the crusade against the Gypsies.

From the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg:

Benz's account is the necessary 'first course' for anyone who wants to know about the Holocaust and to think further about its meaning for humanity. It is of particular importance that the historian who has written this book is a German. This account is trustworthy because its author combines within himself the rare authority of someone who belongs to the past of his nation. He has both understood and transcended its history in this century. The subject of the book, the Holocaust, is somber beyond words, but this account in Benz's words is a cause for hope.

Author Notes

Randolph Louis Braham was born Adolf Abraham in Bucharest, Romania on December 20, 1922. After Hungary seized control of the region in 1940, Braham was barred from public high school because he was Jewish. His parents registered him at an independent school, where he could complete assignments without attending classes. From 1943 to 1945, he was forced to serve in a Hungarian army slave labor battalion in Ukraine. Captured by the Soviets, he escaped and was sheltered by a Hungarian Christian farmer.

After the war, he served as a translator for the United States Army. He emigrated to the United States in 1948 and became a citizen in 1953. He received a bachelor's degree in economics and government, a master of science degree in education from City College, and a doctorate in political science from the New School for Social Research. He taught comparative politics and Soviet studies at City College from 1962 until 1992. He founded the Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies there in 1979. He wrote or edited more than 60 books during his lifetime including The Politics of Genocide: The Holocaust in Hungary and the three-volume The Geographical Encyclopedia of the Holocaust in Hungary. He died from heart failure on November 25, 2018 at the age of 95.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Benz, a professor of anti-Semitism research at the Technical University of Berlin, has written numerous studies on the history of the Jews during the Third Reich. First published in Germany in 1995, this one covers all the significant issues: the Wannsee Conference in 1942, in which the "final solution" for Europe's 11 million Jews was resolved; exclusion of and discrimination against the Jews in Germany from 1933 to 1941; Jewish emigration from 1933 to 1941; ghettos in occupied Eastern Europe; and what Benz identifies as the shift from anti-Semitism to genocide. In less than 200 pages, Benz has written a comprehensive history of this horror. Refraining from speculating on the culpability of those involved, he insists that "there can be no doubts about the facts of the Holocaust; the search for an explanation in keeping with human moral values and reason continues." This extraordinary book is a notable addition to the growing body of Holocaust literature. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0231112149George Cohen

Library Journal Review

Benz (anti-Semitism research, Technical Univ. of Berlin) is the author or editor of over 100 volumes, most available only in German. In this book, first published in 1995 and ably translated here, Benz provides a remarkable overview of the Holocaust in under 175 pages, covering a wide variety of topics, from the initial discrimination against German Jews and "Gypsies" to extermination by Einsatzgruppen and in the death camps. Benz shows an easy mastery of the primary-source material, although the book disappointingly lacks footnotes. He deliberately avoids many of the historical controversies, refusing, for example, to be drawn into the debate between functionalists and internationalists, although he does take a somewhat unpopular position by defending some of the leaders of the Judenr„te. While this book is obviously not comprehensive in its coverage, it is a highly cogent introduction to the subject, sparking a hope that more of the author's publications will likewise be translated into English.ÄJohn A. Drobnicki, York Coll. Lib., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Benz's attempt to summarize the Holocaust without distorting its complex meaning is largely successful. In only 156 pages of text Benz, director of an important German research institute on the history of antisemitism and author of many valuable works on this subject, covers the history of Germany's genocide of the Jews, detailing the milestones of mounting persecution and its crystallization into mass murder. Descending from the heights of policy making and the organization of genocide, the author provides a detailed account of a deportation as it affected a single victim. Biographical sketches and eyewitness accounts balance the masterful analysis of bureaucratic structures and keep the narrative focused on the human costs of the Final Solution. But in so circumscribed a space, Benz must make some sacrifices. The reader will learn very little about Jews outside Germany, the antisemitic ideology that preceded mass murder, or the attitudes of bystanders. The author waits too long to discuss the nature of Jewish collaboration in the Holocaust and is clearly pained by the issue. Finally, it must be said that this work of noble motive is not well served by its clumsy and often misleading translation. Nevertheless, it is accessible to the general reader and useful for the specialist, and belongs in all libraries. R. S. Levy University of Illinois at Chicago

Table of Contents

Part I Eras The Puritan Era and the Puritan MindEdward Ingebretson
The 1890sJoseph Millichap
The 1920sJohn Tibbetts
The 1930sCarlton Jackson
The 1960sChris Lovett
The 1970sZia Hasan
The 1980sWilliam J. Palmer
Part II Wars and Other Major Events
The American RevolutionCotten Seiler
The Civil War and ReconstructionAlicia BrowneLawrence Kreiser
The Cold WarPhil Landon
The Korean WarPhil Landon
The Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American WarJames Yates
The Vietnam WarPeter C. Rollins
Westward Expansion and the Indian WarsJames Sandos
World War IPeter C. Rollins
World War II: DocumentariesPeter C. Rollins
World War II: Feature FilmsRobert Fyne
Part III Notable People
The Antebellum Frontier HeroMike Birdwell Christopher Columbus and Anthony Chase
The Founding FathersCotten Seiler Indian Leaders and Robert Baird
The KennedysHarris J. Elder Abraham Lincoln and Martin Jackson Richard Nixon and Don Whaley Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Michael Shull Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and Douglass Noverr Harry S. Truman and Martin Jackson George Washington and John D. Thomas
Part IV Groups African Americans After World War IIMichael Shull
Arab AmericansJack G. Shaheen
Asian AmericansTerry Hong
Catholic AmericansPeter Holloran
Children and Teenagers in the Twentieth CenturyRon Green
Irish AmericansPeter Holloran
Italian AmericansStacey Donahue
Jewish AmericansSolomon Davidoff
Mexican AmericansScott Baugh
Native AmericansJacqueline Kilpatrick
Radicals and RadicalismMichael ShullDavid Wilt Robber
Barons, Media Moguls, and Power ElitesMichael ShullDavid
Wilt Women from the Colonial Era to 1900Sarah Pearsall
Women in the Twentieth CenturyJune Sochen
Part V Institutions and Movements BaseballGregory McNamee
City and State GovernmentThomas HalperDouglas Muzzio and Jessica Muzzio
Civil RightsRay Arsenault Congress and Anthony Chase
The FamilySteve Mintz Football and Dale Herbeck
Journalism and the MediaRobert Baird
The Labor Movement and the Working ClassMichael ShullDavid
Wilt Militias and Extremist Political MovementsMichael J. Riley
The Political MachineJames Hanlan
The Presidency After World War IIPeter C. Rollins
Private SchoolsRon Briley
Public High SchoolsRon Briley
Part VI Places
The MidwestJohn Tibbetts
The "New" West and the New WesternJames Hanlan
New York CityJoe Dorinson George Lankevich
The SeaMary Malloy
The Small TownJohn Tibbetts
The SouthOwen Gilman Space and Michael DenisonSusan
Opt SuburbiaDavid Wilt
Texas and the SouthwestMark Busby
The Trans-Appalachian WestMike Birdwell
Part VII Themes and Topics Crime and the MafiaRon Wilson
Drugs, Tobacco, and AlcoholJennifer Tebbe-Grossman
Elections and Party PoliticsAnthony Chase
Feminism and Feminist FilmsJune Sochen Railroads and Joseph Millichap
SexualityBill Brigman Slavery and Robert B. Toplin
Part VIII Myths and Heroes
The American AdamCharles Maland
The American Fighting ManRobert Doyle
Democracy and EqualityThomas Doherty
The Frontier and the WestR. Phillip Loy
Hollywood's DetectiveDavid Wilt
The Machine in the GardenJohn Tibbetts
Success and the Self-Made ManHannu Salmi