A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth

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A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth is a 1998 book by Norman Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn. The book contains one essay by each author criticizing Daniel Goldhagen's thesis about the primary causes of the Holocaust, detailed in his 1996 book Hitler's Willing Executioners. Goldhagen's book aimed to dispel several popular notions about the scope of German complicity in the Holocaust, which Goldhagen regards to be myths. These "myths" include: the notion that most Germans did not know about the Holocaust; that only the SS, and not average members of the Wehrmacht, participated in murdering Jews; and that genocidal antisemitism was a uniquely Nazi ideology that had no historical antecedents in Germany. Critics of Goldhagen, in this case Finkelstein and Birn, argue that Hitler's Willing Executioners exaggerates the knowledge and involvement of "ordinary Germans" in the Holocaust.
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date of publication: 1998
main subject: The Holocaust

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