Holocaust books at Jack Crane’s Request

William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a useful overview of the Nazi era.

Constant commenter and friend Jack Crane weighed in on the “Is SB 1070 the new initial stages of Nazi Germany?” question and asked for some Holocaust book suggestions.

Here are some of the best I’ve read.  Be forewarned, though, that these are heavy going emotionally and in terms of the sheer number of pages.

William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. This is an enormously detailed account from one of the few journalists who was there from the very beginning of Hitler’s reign.

Lucy Dawidowicz’s The War Against the Jews.  Dawidowicz is an adherent of the largely discredited intentionalist school that asserts that Hitler had a master plan he carried out inexorably starting at the end of World War I, but that should not take away from her book’s value.  The early parts are helpful in understanding the historic antisemitism that waxed and waned in Germany before Hitler’s ascension.

Martin Gilbert’s The Holocaust.  The remarkably prolific Gilbert has written on just about every other World War II-related topic, including being Churchill’s biographer and having several books of maps about the Second World War, so it only makes sense that he’d write a thorough and accessible Holocaust history.

Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews.  This multi-volume work is the premier work on the workings of the perpetrators’ bureaucratic structures and machinations.  Hilberg buried himself in archives for years before struggling to find a publisher for this groundbreaking work. He is particularly effective in showing how the Nazis used the process of legislation as the first step toward mass murder.

I know there are many others, and these are some of my top books on the subject.  Other thoughts?  Works?


4 responses to “Holocaust books at Jack Crane’s Request

  1. I have read Gilbert’s “The Holocaust,” more accurately read about 80% or so, as the sheer horror nearly buried me at that time. I have very dear German friends who were kids during the war, and they gave Michele and I a tour of Germany a few years ago. I must say I was a bit spooked, especially as I stood on the train platforms. One of the questions that rolls around in my head almost daily, is why did long time neighbors turn away from their Jewish “friends” in their time of great need? I will began my research again by reading Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”

    And Jeff, if you see me walking around with the “dazed and confused” look, you know where I live! :-/

    And how bout those boyz in green!


    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, Jack. I look forward to hearing your thoughts after wading through Shirer.

      Amen to the C’s showing grit and heart again!


  2. No event in human history has been studied more thoroughly and carefully than the Holocaust. Thousands of thesis and dissertations papers have poured over mountains of data, from physical evidence and anecdotal testimony to captured German war documents. Virtually everyone with a PhD in History will stake their career on the fact that millions of Jews were systematically exterminated by Nazi Germany. One can no more “revise” this fact than one can revise the existence of gravity. Wannsee Conference records prove that Nazis planned the extermination of Jews as, “The Final Solution.” German concentration camp records prove that it was carried out.

    Whenever we stand up to those who deny or minimize genocide we send a critical message to the world. As we continue to live in an age of genocide and ethnic cleansing, we must repel the broken ethics of our ancestors, or risk a dreadful repeat of past transgressions.

    Holocaust deniers ply their mendacious poison everywhere, especially with young people on the Internet. Deniers seek to distort the truth in a way that promotes antagonism against the object of their hatred, or to deny the culpability of their ancestors and heroes. If we ignore them, they will twist the minds of countless young people, creating a new generation of those who deny the facts of the worst episode of genocide in history. Freedom of speech and the press is a symbol of a healthy society. Yet, since no crime in history is as heinous as the Holocaust, its memory must be accurately preserved, to protect our children and grandchildren.

    Museums and mandatory public education are tools to dispel bigotry, especially racial and ethnic hatred. Books, plays, films and presentations can reinforce the veracity of past and present genocides. They help to tell the true story of the perpetrators of genocide; and they reveal the abject terror, humiliation and degradation resulting from blind prejudice. It is therefore essential that we disclose the factual brutality and horror of genocide, combating the deniers’ virulent, inaccurate historical revision. We must protect vulnerable future generations from making the same mistakes.

    A world that continues to allow genocide requires ethical remediation. We must insist that religious, racial, ethnic, gender and orientation persecution is wrong; and that tolerance is our progeny’s only hope. Only through such efforts can we reveal the true horror of genocide and promote the triumphant spirit of humankind.

    Charles Weinblatt
    Author, “Jacob’s Courage”

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks, Charles. This came in as a spam comment. Is this something you wrote specifically for my blog or is this an automated comment?

      Good luck with your work.


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