Hitler's Willing Executioners
Hitler's Willing Executioners term paper due and don’t know how to start it? How about like this?
Daniel Goldhagen’s book Hitler’s Willing Executioners is an in depth look at the possible motivations of the Germans who participated in the execution of six million Jews. Goldhagen’s thesis is that those involved in the genocide were not the highly trained men and women of the fanatical Nazi army but rather a representative sampling of German society. Motivated by years of eliminationist antisemitism, ordinary Germans took place in one of the worlds most tragic cases of inhumanity towards their fellow man.
The Fanatical Nazis
The fanatical Nazis and the impressionable youth that make up the Hollywood view of the Holocaust is an inaccurate picture of the reality of concentration camps and Nazi death squads during World War II. Goldhagen asserts that the majority of men involved with the actual killing of Jews were from police battalions and were willing and knowledgeable participants in murder. Goldhagen attacks the five most commonly given explanations for why ordinary men would kill.
- Forced by the authorities is invalid since countless testimonies recall that the men of the battalions were given the option not to participate in the killing and only less then a handful objected, and those objection were met with acceptance, not punishment.
- Secondly, the theory that people, even Germans more particularly, instinctively obey orders is illegitimate. Stories tell of officers who refused to steal from the Jews because they saw it as “wrong” but yet they would kill them in mass. Goldhagen explains that this is due to centuries of anti-Semitic ideology within the German culture and parts of Europe.
- Peer pressure is the third explanation given for German actions. However, history and the acceptance of the persecution of various groups in Germany do not constitute peer pressure, since persecution was the norm.
- The remaining two reasons Goldhagen states are career advancement and lack of understanding of Hitler’s true motives. However, since most of the murders were face to face occurrences, these do not apply.