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A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon C A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.   The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves—where they came from and where they were heading—and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration—and justification—for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.


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A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon C A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.   The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves—where they came from and where they were heading—and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration—and justification—for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.

30 review for A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide

  1. 4 out of 5

    Maxine

    “The Holocaust should be placed within a history of Nazi war and occupation, empire building, and comparative genocide. The Holocaust was not unique. But it was perceived during the war as unique by German Jews, and other Europeans, and if we want to understand why the Holocaust happened, we ought to explain this.” In his book, A World Without Jews, author Alon Confino looks at many of the controversies and questions that still surround the Holocaust. Was the persecution of the Jews led from the “The Holocaust should be placed within a history of Nazi war and occupation, empire building, and comparative genocide. The Holocaust was not unique. But it was perceived during the war as unique by German Jews, and other Europeans, and if we want to understand why the Holocaust happened, we ought to explain this.” In his book, A World Without Jews, author Alon Confino looks at many of the controversies and questions that still surround the Holocaust. Was the persecution of the Jews led from the top down by the Nazi leaders and were the German people aware of what was really happening to the Jewish peoples of Europe? Did Christian Churches play a role and, if so, to what extent? Confino looks at both primary and secondary sources and creates a horrifying picture of complicity and awareness of the German people including both the Catholic and Protestant Churches. He also includes many shocking photographs from the period including one of an effigy of a Jewish man hanging from a lamp post and signs outside of towns declaring them ‘Jew-free’. It is often pointed out that other genocides were just as horrendous if not worse if the only criteria is body count and Confino concedes that. However, it is his contention that, although the Holocaust is not unique, it must be seen as separate from other genocides. He points out, for example that in the genocide of the Ukrainians by the Soviet Union during the 1930s, the Soviets did not ask other countries to send their Ukrainian citizens to be exterminated – what separates the Holocaust from other genocides was the extent to which the Nazis set out to create a world without Jews, not just a single country. He contends that the Nazis weren’t motivated by past prejudice against the Jews although they were more than willing to use it to gain the support and complicity of the German populace. What they were seeking was a completely new and radical world in which a Christian Germany would be created without any ties or debt to the past. The Jews, with their long presence in Germany and with the obvious connection between the God of both Judaism and Christianity represented that past. In their attempt to deny the debt owed by Christianity and Germany to Judaism, the Germans not only persecuted the Jews and destroyed their temples but they also burned and desecrated the Hebrew Bible, a fact that has been mainly overlooked in discussions about the Holocaust, and eventually banned the Old Testament in German Churches. It is in this imagining of this new German Reich that the Nazis began to conceive of this world completely devoid of Jewish influence or presence. “But the Nazis did imagine a clear narrative arch of the relations between Germans and Jews from the dawn of history to the present. Right from the beginning they were certain about one thing, which did not change until the last day of the Reich: the Jews and their historical roots, real or invented from the Bible down to the modern period, must be eliminated at all costs and whatever the consequences. The Nazis did not leave standing one cultural edifice that implied a cultural debt to the Jews: this amounted to making a new civilization by uprooting a key element of their own roots.” With this book, Alon Confino answers unconditionally the question of whether the German people including the Catholic and protestant Churches knew and were complicit in the persecution of the Jews. It gives a well-documented and damning explanation of what led to the Holocaust and should be on the reading list of anyone who wants to see a world without genocide.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Zeb Kantrowitz

    How do you define obsession? Under the Nazis, the Germans were determined to rid the world of the Jews. They spent more material and manpower (except for making war) on the destruction of a ‘people’ to the point where it may have become a factor in the loss of WW2. Even as the massive Soviet offensive was bearing down on the Reich in 1944, precious railway locomotives and rolling stock was used to transport over 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. How do you explain that one of the most advance How do you define obsession? Under the Nazis, the Germans were determined to rid the world of the Jews. They spent more material and manpower (except for making war) on the destruction of a ‘people’ to the point where it may have become a factor in the loss of WW2. Even as the massive Soviet offensive was bearing down on the Reich in 1944, precious railway locomotives and rolling stock was used to transport over 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. How do you explain that one of the most advanced cultures in the world became obsessed with destroying a miniscule part (0.75%) of their population? In 1933 there were 500,000 Jews in Germany out of a population of 66 million. Beginning on January 31, 1933 the Nazis turned the power of their State to liquidating the Jews. In 1944 when there were less than 100,000 Jews left in Greater Germany, Goebbels (the Minister of Propaganda) spent a part of his daily speeches excoriating the Jews. Why this all-consuming hatred, and how did the Nazis indoctrinate their countrymen to a point where average Germans were ‘happy’ to participate in this destruction. First you stigmatize, then you denigrate, then you humiliate then you segregated, then you obliterate. The Nazis not only put into action their plan to eliminate the Jews from German society, this plan included eradicating them from memory except as a demon destroyed. In some of their first actions against the Jews they destroyed the cultural infrastructure by burning the Torahs (Old Testament) and Synagogues. By 1939 almost every Synagogue in Germany had been destroyed. Many had been leveled and turned into car parks. But it wasn’t just the Jews in Germany. The 3 million Jews in Poland and the 1.5 million in the Soviet Union that came under German rule were all destroyed. How obsessive, in 1944 when pulling out of Greece, the 2000 Jews on the island of Corfu (a Sephardic remnant from the Jews who had left Spain in 1492) were taken to Auschwitz. Why destroy people who had nothing to do with Germany except that they were the cultural co-religionist of a “hated” people? That’s what this book is about, an unexplainable obsession and how the German people willingly became an accomplice to this genocide. Well written and documented. Great read. Zeb Kantrowitz

  3. 5 out of 5

    Inna

    This is a wonderful book it which the author explains how radical Nazism really was. His main point is that the Nazis wished to eliminate the Jews from the world, precisely since Jews are so important to the Judeo-Christian culture, of which they were a part. The Nazis, according to him, wished to take over the Christian culture and recreate it, with themselves as the chosen people. Therefore everything that had to do with the Old Testament and with its living representatives - the Jews, had to This is a wonderful book it which the author explains how radical Nazism really was. His main point is that the Nazis wished to eliminate the Jews from the world, precisely since Jews are so important to the Judeo-Christian culture, of which they were a part. The Nazis, according to him, wished to take over the Christian culture and recreate it, with themselves as the chosen people. Therefore everything that had to do with the Old Testament and with its living representatives - the Jews, had to disappear. Therefore, the author claims, the Holocaust was a logical development from the attacks on German Jews and the burning of books and of synagogues which took place in the 1930s. The wish not to see the Jews in the public space, supported by extreme violence, could not but develop into mass murder.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marie Andrews

    *Read for research for my dissertation* This book was very informative and provided a lot of interpretations of events that happened. It also had a lot of detail for various policies that were introduced targeting Jews. Things were explained clearly and it regularly gave background information which helped provide more context. There was also a nice balance between a reflection on what happened from today's perspective, but also had photos/diary entries/speeches from the time. One of the best and *Read for research for my dissertation* This book was very informative and provided a lot of interpretations of events that happened. It also had a lot of detail for various policies that were introduced targeting Jews. Things were explained clearly and it regularly gave background information which helped provide more context. There was also a nice balance between a reflection on what happened from today's perspective, but also had photos/diary entries/speeches from the time. One of the best and informative books I've read for my dissertation on this subject - super helpful!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chloe

    A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to GenocideReading A World Without Jews was like sitting shiva on every page. For those who believe in error that the Nazi war on Jews started with "Arbeit Mach Frei" at the gates of Auschwitz and that the idea of Holocaust just happened as it was eventually played out, will find this book a devastating eye-opener and familiarity with the helpful and willing people of the Reich who began in 1933 erasing the idea of Jews from the history A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to GenocideReading A World Without Jews was like sitting shiva on every page. For those who believe in error that the Nazi war on Jews started with "Arbeit Mach Frei" at the gates of Auschwitz and that the idea of Holocaust just happened as it was eventually played out, will find this book a devastating eye-opener and familiarity with the helpful and willing people of the Reich who began in 1933 erasing the idea of Jews from the history planet with gusto. Holocaust, genocide and annihilation - as envisioned by Adolf Hitler was cold and calculated. The methodology was so subtle and so palatably arranged it was hard for any good German (not even Nazi Germans) to resist the fun and games Hitler set in motion when he became Chancellor of German in 1933. It should answer the question asked by so many "Why did the Jews go along with it?" The subtleties of Hitler's campaign made it pro forma and to not enjoy the antics was almost unthinkable. It started with such simple acts of ugliness, bullying, humiliation and fomented dependence on the antiquity of Jew hating that the opportunity to lash out at Jews seemed too good to be true. And Jews themselves clearly must have imagined as each act of ugliness was instituted this was as bad as it would get - after all, Jews were assimilated Germans and as such had nothing to fear. Hitler's plan was to eliminate the very idea of the Jewish body of faith, writings and belief out of global existence. Each act of persecution would seem petty and yet as they accumulated they formed the body of the Final Solution. Hitler meant final and he meant a World Without Jews or their existence ever in recorded history. The facts of this plot and plan should never leave you as you turn each page. The culmination of it began with what we think of as the Holocaust but this is a later construct. There were no accidental acts. No spontaneous behavior. It was all run as part of the Nazi plan to create a Thousand Year Reich and own the world. The act of erasing the Jewishness of this world; the Bible, the Torah, the Talmud, the Old Testament and all the ensuing traditions was well thought out and effectively implemented. For good public relations he tossed in defense of Christianity as part of the trappings but he was no Christian of any kind. In Hitler's plan - there was no God but Hitler. And there was no concern or regard for the humanity of Judaism - on the contrary - the attempt to annihilate was the entire point. Judenfrei was the term and as Hitler began to lose his grip on the war he started he was undermined by this very obsession and German soldiers paid with their lives as well. Hitler, so entrenched in a fear, envy and loathing of the accomplishments and achievements of European citizens of Jewish faith and at the cost of millions of lost lives and human sacrifices, his obsession cost him the Reich he dreamed was his and in this amazing book Alon Confino has laid it out - piece by piece, moment by moment and life by life. It is a cautionary tale of what can and did happen. And what could easily happen again - to any group singled out for erasure.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maria Beltrami

    As anyone who knows me knows, I am a passionate reader of fiction and nonfiction about Nazism and the Holocaust. It is a historical period accompanied by a moral attitude so incomprehensible to me, to push me to read every single piece of paper that has been written about it. What, after all what I've read, I've never managed to catch up in the end, is the motive of everything. Because anti-Semitism is good, are good economic reasons, are good territorial claims, but behind a project of extermina As anyone who knows me knows, I am a passionate reader of fiction and nonfiction about Nazism and the Holocaust. It is a historical period accompanied by a moral attitude so incomprehensible to me, to push me to read every single piece of paper that has been written about it. What, after all what I've read, I've never managed to catch up in the end, is the motive of everything. Because anti-Semitism is good, are good economic reasons, are good territorial claims, but behind a project of extermination so complete, articulate, polished and perfectly conducted it takes something more. Just as it takes something more to transform the peaceful neighbor in a ruthless taskmaster, and to ensure that an entire people commit acts which usually stain only the most extreme and unstable o fa normal population. I found a lot of answers in this book, so clear and well documented, many pieces of the puzzle "Nazism - the German people" are finally went to their place. A reading really important. Thank you Netgalley and Yale University Press for giving me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. Come sanno tutti coloro che mi conoscono, io sono un'appassionata lettrice di narrativa e saggistiche riguardanti il nazismo e l'Olocausto. Si tratta di un periodo storico accompagnato da un atteggiamento morale così incomprensibile per me, da spingermi a leggere ogni singolo pezzo di carta che sia stato scritto al riguardo. Ciò che, nonostante tutto quello che ho letto, non sono mai riuscita a cogliere fino in fondo, è la motivazione profonda di tutto ciò. Perché va bene l'antisemitismo, vanno bene le motivazioni economiche, vanno bene le rivendicazioni territoriali, ma dietro un progetto di sterminio così completo, articolato, lucido e perfettamente condotto ci vuole qualcosa di più. Così come ci vuole qualcosa di più per trasformare il pacifico vicino in uno spietato aguzzino, e far sì che un'intero popolo commetta atti di cui di solito si macchiano solo le frange più estreme e instabili di una popolazione normale. Molte risposte le ho trovate in questo volume, così chiaro e ben documentato, tanti tasselli del puzzle nazismo - popolo tedesco sono finalmente andati al loro posto. Una lettura davvero importante. Ringrazio Netgalley e Yale University Press per avermi concesso una copia gratuita in cambio di una recensione onesta.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Lacy

    This book bursts with creative insight into the Holocaust that deviates from other scholarly explanations. It addresses how the Nazis imagined the world without the Jews? It explains that the Nazis sought to exterminate the Jews and Judaism in order to create its own origin, its own Genesis to fulfill its promise before taking power of “a radical new start by cleaning out the old system entirely,” emotionally calling for “national regeneration and unity,” “and the creation of a new social order, This book bursts with creative insight into the Holocaust that deviates from other scholarly explanations. It addresses how the Nazis imagined the world without the Jews? It explains that the Nazis sought to exterminate the Jews and Judaism in order to create its own origin, its own Genesis to fulfill its promise before taking power of “a radical new start by cleaning out the old system entirely,” emotionally calling for “national regeneration and unity,” “and the creation of a new social order,” “a utopian vision of national renewal built on racial purity.” (Ian Kershaw, HELL AND BACK: EUROPE 1914-1949, p. 210, 212, 284). According to Confino, It did so by eradicating the Torah, the Old Testament, and creating its own Christian version, rewriting the New Testament without any reference to the Old. The driving force of the Holocaust according to Confino was Jewish culture. Confino comes out of the gate with his provocative thesis in a concise and well developed Introduction, which should be read carefully because it is like the overture of an Italian opera: it spells out the ideas he expounds upon in the book. I read passages over and over as Confino’s thesis prompted further meditation and contrast with other works on the subject. This book is not an introductory book. One should have some familiarity in the subject before appreciating Confino’s thesis that he acknowledges has not been observed in the literature, as well as his skillful arguments based on considered research and interwoven accounts of persons living through the events. However, with this said, Peter Hayes argues in his recent book, WHY?: EXPLAINING THE HOLOCAUST (2017), Confino, in fact argues that a secularized version of the Christian claim to historical suppression was at the heart of the Nazi drive to eradicate the Jews. Instead of advancing a new religion of supersession, the Nazis saw themselves as promoting an entirely new conception of morality. Confino’s claim is not entirely original. Sigmund Freud and Maurice Samuel argued similarly about the roots of antisemitism on the eve of the Holocaust, Leon Poliakov and Norman Cohn about those of Nazi racism shortly afterward. But these thinkers understood that the Nazis were not so much trying to supersede Judeo-Christian morality as to nullify or repeal it. Nazi morality was of the “back to the future” sort; it demanded acknowledgement that the only governing principle of life is the primordial law of the jungle and that the only measure of goodness is physical survival. (p. 7)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    On the 28th day of Nisan in the year 5777 (April 24, 2017) the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a modern orthodox shul in the northwest corner of the Bronx, staged its 20th annual Yom HaShoah Seder. I use the word staged deliberately because like every seder, or ritual dinner/ceremony, it involves a series of arranged, symbolic actions in which each attendee collectively participates. The Haggadah, a thin book which guides the event from beginning to end, is divided into four parts, each of which On the 28th day of Nisan in the year 5777 (April 24, 2017) the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, a modern orthodox shul in the northwest corner of the Bronx, staged its 20th annual Yom HaShoah Seder. I use the word staged deliberately because like every seder, or ritual dinner/ceremony, it involves a series of arranged, symbolic actions in which each attendee collectively participates. The Haggadah, a thin book which guides the event from beginning to end, is divided into four parts, each of which focuses on a different aspect of the Jewish experience of the Holocaust: physical destruction, spiritual destruction, the destruction of children, and resistance. “To symbolically experience the loss of all our possessions”, for instance, attendees are asked to remove their shoes, phone, and jewelry, and to place it out of sight. Later, guests partake from a tub full of cold potato peels, a reminder of scrap diet on which many Jews in both camp and ghetto alike subsisted. For me the most powerful symbolic action that evening involved my reduction from human to number, a transformation that took place when an ink stamping device was passed around, and from which I stamped the number 604012 onto my forearm, but more on that below. If there was one portion of the seder that would resonate with Alon Confino it would surely be that focused on ‘churban ruchani’, or spiritual destruction: “When we mourn a Jewish world that was lost, we must also mourn the loss to the world of what these victims, so cruelly annihilated, could have contributed.” The re-enactment portion of the Haggadah reads: To re-enact the pain of the loss of opportunities for learning, we take a sheet imprinted with the Hebrew alphabet, the alef-bet, symbolic of our Torah, and rip it in half. We place the torn pages in the center of our circle and set them on fire. As in the story of the Ten Martyrs, the parchment burns, but the letters ascend toward heaven. In his book A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide Confino begins, in fact, with a description of a little commented upon aspect of the Kristallnacht violence that engulfed German Jews in November 1938; namely, the destruction of Torah scrolls. That destruction is particularly pertinent to his story of the Holocaust because in it ordinary Germans actively sought to expunge half of their holiest text, the Old Testament of the Christian bible. In so doing they began to lay the foundations of a new nationalist theology not lain upon the ethical imperatives built up by several thousand years of Jewish religious culture. It’s a project that later, through a sanctioned rewriting of the text, even sought to remove Jews from the New Testament itself. The burning of religious texts on Kristallnacht, however, wasn’t unprecedented. Within months of Hitler’s election on January 30, 1933, ordinary Germans began to assemble in public squares to burn books that might present an affront to the emerging Nazi consciousness. The books burned included those on topics related to socialism, capitalism, and other non-German ideologies, but also those written by Jews. Most disturbing, perhaps, is that these events were not officially sanctioned but rather were often led by students and faculty at German universities. Confino even documents communications that suggest Nazi party officials were concerned about the spontaneity of the widespread book burning events. The burning of texts, religious or not, was a crucial component of imagining a world without Jews. But it was not the only way it was done. Confino lays out in horrifying fashion the ways in which Jews were systematically excluded via legal means, often by laws enacted at the local level. He accomplishes this by presenting the most banal legal codes in a methodical procession of italicized text in various places throughout the book, as if to remind the reader that he is is never far from the long arm of the law. Confino also documents the way in which ‘Heimat’, or local pride, played a role in the move to depict Jews as misrooted in German land, though this narrative is less assured than the others. Confino describes his focus on the Nazi imagination as being about the search for a “heterocosmic truth (the truth of fictional worlds)” as opposed to a logical truth. This he sets against attempts to come to grips with the Holocaust that have simply focused on a description of facts, however numerous they may be. Authors working in that vein, he writes, often do so because they are trying to make sense of a subject, or order the world, in a way that is contrary to their very understanding of that world. His own work seeks to embrace difference in a way that allows for greater narrative understanding, even at the expense of potential interpretative indefensibility. To contextualize the goal at hand he relates the project to Freud’s own fictional interpretive project, Moses and Monotheism and in general finds merit in psychoanalytic frames of reference. It’s not an easy book to read, and not just for the subpar prose. What made it more difficult, and unpleasant, was the subject matter itself. Confino, however, does a great job of showing how a continuous progression of Nazi atrocities led to the genocide that so consumes our contemporary imagination. And if I will take anything away from this book, it’s a greater awareness of just how fragile democratic societies are to tyranny. How unfortunately easy it is to imagine, while reading this book, something similar happening today. Goethe, in the prose text Dichtung und Wahrheit that accompanies his East-West Divan cycle of poems (and contains within it his own imaginative reinterpretation of the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the promised land), describes an unpleasant “ghostlike” intuition of the past that can creep into the present. One feels that ghost in profound ways while reading A World Without Jews. The ritual ceremony and symbolic re-enactment inherent in every Jewish seder, whether during Passover or on Holocaust Remembrance Day seeks to conjure those same ghosts of the past. We are to feel as one with our ancestors, as if we ourselves were fleeing Egypt or watching as a the soldiers of a firing squad raise their rifles in our direction. Sometimes it works better than others. After I stamped 604012 onto my forearm, I passed the ink stamping device to the elderly woman sitting next to me. She refused it and the slightly younger woman sitting on her other side, her daughter I later found out, politely reached out to take it from me. It wasn’t immediately clear to me her objection until she leaned over a few minutes later and said “I already have one” and raised the sleeve of her shirt to reveal a very small, faded black number that she had carried with her all her life. She was one of ten survivors at the seder that evening. Her ghost will stay with me long after she departs this world. Confino’s book will haunt you just the same. © Jeffrey L. Otto June 1, 2017

  9. 4 out of 5

    Phoenix

    The Dark Road One of the great difficulties is approaching the Holocaust is trying to give an all encompassing explanation to the question “Why?”, when no one answer can suffice. Confino makes an admirable attempt to illuminate the paranoid Nazi vision of a racially pure world, cleansed entirely of the influence of Jews, and it is the implementation of this evil goal that differentiates the Holocaust from other genocides. Not only did the Jews have to be removed from society through a succession The Dark Road One of the great difficulties is approaching the Holocaust is trying to give an all encompassing explanation to the question “Why?”, when no one answer can suffice. Confino makes an admirable attempt to illuminate the paranoid Nazi vision of a racially pure world, cleansed entirely of the influence of Jews, and it is the implementation of this evil goal that differentiates the Holocaust from other genocides. Not only did the Jews have to be removed from society through a succession of rapidly implemented laws, so did their books, scientific achievements, “degenerate” art and places of worship. It began quite early in Hitler's reign. Jewish concerts were shut down, Jewish doctors were excluded from the receipt of state payments from health insurance or welfare, Jews were unceremoniously dropped from public payrolls at all levels, Jewish owned business could not be advertised on the radio, synagogues were rased to the ground, the cost of disposal charged against Jewish communities – and all this before the mass exterminations began. As in Kristalnacht where the Jewish communities were charged with a fine of 1 billion marks, the Jews were forced to pay the costs of their own destruction. Libraries were dismantled, the names of the former owners removed. For the Nazis, Christianity had to rewritten, extirpating it of it's Jewish elements and discrimination against Jews became a way of life. As a guiding principle, no trace of Jewish presence could remain, and the success of this anti-Jewish crusade was the key to peace and glory. It was, as Confino puts it, “a new sense of morality and humanity”. Jews were “the embodimentof evil that rises against God and nature... He who contents with the Jews, contents with the Devil.” (pp5-7) To destroy the Jews was seen as a liberation of the German soul. As Adolph Hitler said (Feb 24, 1942, pp196) , “after the elimination of thse parasites, will there come to a suffering world a long oeriod of brotherhood among nations and true peace.” For the Nazis this was a rightly principled crusade. Morality itself had been conquored and subverted. I don't see Confino's exposition as an explanation so much as a framework from which to review how Nazis extremism progressed. Anti-Semitism and ethnic demonization are not always translated into actions, but they create a foundation that can be used once those who see the world in Manichaen terms achieve a semblance of power, and therein lies the danger to us all. Recommended!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Caren

    Holocaust historian, Professor Alon Confino presents an intriguing assessment of the motivation behind the Nazi campaign to eradicate Jews, 1933-45. Initially focusing on Kristallnacht 1938 and the burning of sacred Torah scrolls (the Hebrew Bible), Confino proposes that the Nazis had declared their "memorycide" and acted most overtly upon Hitler's "prophecy" to eradicate the Jews from history and memory. He interprets the genocidal activities as a means for Germany to refashion an origin myth f Holocaust historian, Professor Alon Confino presents an intriguing assessment of the motivation behind the Nazi campaign to eradicate Jews, 1933-45. Initially focusing on Kristallnacht 1938 and the burning of sacred Torah scrolls (the Hebrew Bible), Confino proposes that the Nazis had declared their "memorycide" and acted most overtly upon Hitler's "prophecy" to eradicate the Jews from history and memory. He interprets the genocidal activities as a means for Germany to refashion an origin myth for itself that destroyed the links between Christianity and Judaism, between Christianity and its roots in the Old Testament. Confino supports the idea that Hitler's plan was to recast Germans as the "chosen people". The historical evidence is meticulously presented, accompanied by quoted statements by Hitler and his officials, by witnesses to the violence perpetrated = both "Aryan" local citizens and Jewish victims - and by startling photographs of the terror campaigns conducted in localities throughout Germany by local citizens themselves. The latter emphatically demonstrated how the German population, in the name of "heimat" [homeland], enthusiastically initiated and participated in the violence, humiliation and degradation of its Jewish citizens. The intensity of the text guarantees that I will refer to it frequently. Confino designed an highly erudite assessment, but presented it to an audience of both historians and of ordinary readers with an interest in Holocaust studies. His inclusion of personal accounts of both victims and perpetrators insured that he never lost sight of the human angle of the Holocaust.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolina Batista

    I chose to read this book with one purpose: understanding HOW Germans, as an entire nation, accepted what was going on under their noses, to their friends and neighbors. How people accepted so fast and easy a change in mind that made it normal to them that people were sent away to be killed. I wanted to understand if the information was not being displayed correctly if people were clueless. But no, they were ALL guilty.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    A World Without Jews places Kristallnacht square at the center of the Nazi persecution and eventual attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Confino argues that the events of Kristallnacht and subsequent laws severely limiting the activities of Jews within Germany made the idea of a world without Jews imaginable to Germans, even if they didn't yet know exactly what actions would create such a world. The book deals with the realms of imagination and memory, for example arguing that the primacy A World Without Jews places Kristallnacht square at the center of the Nazi persecution and eventual attempt to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Confino argues that the events of Kristallnacht and subsequent laws severely limiting the activities of Jews within Germany made the idea of a world without Jews imaginable to Germans, even if they didn't yet know exactly what actions would create such a world. The book deals with the realms of imagination and memory, for example arguing that the primacy that the Nazis gave eliminating the Jews (before any other of the many groups they persecuted) was because of their construction of the Jews as the root of all evil, whose story had to be taken over and rewritten in order to create the Nazi new world order. I found the book to be most interesting in its discussion of the persecution of Jews in Germany before WWII, including the burning of books and later the events of Kristallnacht. Its discussion of the events of Kristallnacht itself and of legislation against Jews that followed is much more detailed than many other books on the Holocaust, who do not give Kristallnacht such primacy. The sections on the imagination of Nazism during the war are still interesting, but become harder to prove. This is partly because Confino argues that he is working in the realm of the unsaid, in emotions and sensibilities rather than words. This by its nature requires a great deal of extrapolation on his part. But his detailed look at Germany before the war seems to bear out his earlier claims. It becomes much more difficult to continue this when the scale becomes that of Europe. By this point he is arguing that the Nazis saw (but didn't necessarily always express) the extermination of the Jews as a sort of genesis, a creation by way of destruction. Overall, this book is an excellent look into the Nazi imagination that helps illuminate elements of the Holocaust in ways that I haven't seen before. It is incredibly well researched, and while the writing is on the scholarly side it should still be accessible to the interested layperson.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jean Kelly

    Fascinating book where the author starts by looking at the book burnings and Torah scroll burning thorough the Nazi Regime and what exactly they were seeking to destroy. It is a re look at the general understanding of the Holocaust. In the final section he writes: ' Nazis and Jews shared a belief - the powered of the book and in the necessity of stories to give meaning to life. That is why the Nazis wanted to destroy the Jewish Bible, history and memory, and why Jews clung to them.' Fascinating book where the author starts by looking at the book burnings and Torah scroll burning thorough the Nazi Regime and what exactly they were seeking to destroy. It is a re look at the general understanding of the Holocaust. In the final section he writes: ' Nazis and Jews shared a belief - the powered of the book and in the necessity of stories to give meaning to life. That is why the Nazis wanted to destroy the Jewish Bible, history and memory, and why Jews clung to them.'

  14. 4 out of 5

    Georgina Lara

    I believe there is a need to understand the deep roots that gave birth to the Holocaust and Nazism because there is still an element of disbelief that actual human beings (and an entire nation at that) could imagine and produce these atrocities and it begs the question: what makes 'me' different from those who perpetrated these crimes? Could I have been among them? Could I be...? I believe there is a need to understand the deep roots that gave birth to the Holocaust and Nazism because there is still an element of disbelief that actual human beings (and an entire nation at that) could imagine and produce these atrocities and it begs the question: what makes 'me' different from those who perpetrated these crimes? Could I have been among them? Could I be...?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    I think that people who are interested in the political and cultural climate of Germany and Europe that lead to the Holocaust will find this book very informative. I received this book free to review from Netgalley.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eric Kabakoff

  18. 4 out of 5

    littlemiao

  19. 4 out of 5

    Guy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Judith K. Hecker

  21. 4 out of 5

    Orel Beilinson

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jean Marie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Danilo

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shrike58

  25. 5 out of 5

    Walter Scharrer

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dora M

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mara

  28. 4 out of 5

    Igor

  29. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  30. 5 out of 5

    Drew

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