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Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany Robert Gellately Oxford University Press USA


20th June 2013 History Books 0 Comments

Using newspapers and radio broadcasts of the day as evidence, Gellately (The Gestapo and German Society), Strassler Professor in Holocaust History at Clark University, effectively demonstrates how “ordinary Germans” evolved into a powerful base of support for the Nazi regime. Although Hitler and the National Socialists had never garnered an outright majority in elections before 1933, the author convincingly shows that “the great majority of the German people soon became devoted to Hitler and they supported him to the bitter end in 1945.” The Nazis achieved this political miracle by “consensus.” The Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci argued that political regimes could hardly expect to use unlimited terror against their subjects a technique combining the threat of terror and coercion would be more effective. Using Gramscian theory is hardly new in an analysis of Nazi Germany, but Gellately does make a provocative claim: that the Nazi use of terror against certain categories of “undesirables” (first Communists, Socialists and trade unionists, then Catholic and Protestant opponents, then the mentally and/or physically impaired, then the Jews and Gypsies) was purposively public and that most Germans agreed with such policies. Decrees, legislation, police actions and the concentration camps were not meant to be hidden from the German people, but in fact were extensively publicized. Some of the same arguments have been made in Adam Lebor and Roger Boyes’s Seduced by Hitler (Forecasts, Mar. 26), but readers will notice that Gellately offers a far more sophisticated argument and more abundant evidence than Daniel Goldhagen’s cause clbre, Hitler’s Willing Executioners. In truth, Gellately’s work is what Goldhagen’s book could have been, but wasn’t; that is, a closely reasoned and tightly constructed analysis. 42 illus. not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

–This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Gellately (Strassler Professor in Holocaust History, Clark Univ.) analyzes the role of “ordinary” Germans in the Nazi persecution of those deemed social and political outsiders. Under the guise of “law and order,” the Nazis suspended regular jurisprudence and substituted arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. Far from carrying out their activities in secret, the Nazis publicized them as steps to the social, political, and racial regeneration of Germany. Many ordinary Germans actively participated in this process, denouncing neighbors as “asocial” elements for associating with Jews or for “suspicious” activities. Denunciations derived from a variety of motivations personal grudges, economic self-interest, or ideological commitment with the full knowledge of what would happen to the victims. By effectively overturning the belief that Hitler and the Nazi party imposed their ideology upon the German people and maintained control through massed police terror, Gellately’s book forces us to consider the role of the ordinary citizen in the maintenance of the Nazi dictatorship. His arguments are more sophisticated and ultimately more convincing than Daniel Goldhagen’s in Hitler’s Willing Executioners (LJ 3/15/96), which saw the German people’s adherence as mono-causal (i.e., anti-Semitism). Recommended for all libraries. Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Debate still rages over how much ordinary Germans knew about the concentration camps and the Gestapo’s activities during Hitler’s reign. Now, in this well-documented and provocative volume, historian Robert Gellately argues that the majority of German citizens had quite a clear picture of the extent of Nazi atrocities, and continued to support the Reich to the bitter end.
Culling chilling evidence from primary news sources and citing dozens of case studies, Gellately shows how media reports and press stories were an essential dimension of Hitler’s popular dictatorship. Indeed, a vast array of material on the concentration camps, the violent campaigns against social outsiders, and the Nazis’ radical approaches to “law and order” was published in the media of the day, and was widely read by a highly literate population of Germans. Hitler, Gellately reveals, did not try to hide the existence of the Gestapo or of concentration camps. Nor did the Nazis try to cow the people into submission. Instead they set out to win converts by building on popular images, cherished ideals, and long-held phobias. And their efforts succeeded, Gellately concludes, for the Gestapo’s monstrous success was due, in large part, to ordinary German citizens who singled out suspected “enemies” in their midst, reporting their suspicions and allegations freely and in a spirit of cooperation and patriotism.
Extensively documented, highly readable and illustrated with never-before-published photographs, Backing Hitler convincingly debunks the myth that Nazi atrocities were carried out in secret. From the rise of the Third Reich well into the final, desperate months of the war, the destruction of innocent lives was inextricably linked to the will of the German people.

Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany

The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders

The title refers to a caption in the scrapbook of Kurt Franz, the commandant of the Treblinka concentration camp. Underneath the heading “Those Were the Days,” and reproduced here, are pictures of smiling officers at a site where some 700,000 people were exterminated in the gas chambers. To refute revisionist historians who negate the testimony of Holocaust survivors, and to disprove those Germans who said they were coerced into murdering Jews, the German authors–Klee is a journalist, Dressen a lawyer and Riess a historian–present the damning and harrowing diaries, letters, photo albums and official reports of Germans who willingly participated in the Final Solution. A member of a unit that killed 33,771 Jews in the Ukranian Babi Yar ravine boasts: “It’s almost impossible to imagine what nerves of steel it took to carry out that dirty work down there.” Of the annihilation of thousands of Jews in White Russia, a commander says, “The action rid me of unneccessary mouths to feed.” And wagging its tail for the camera is Franz’s dog, which on numerous occasions was set upon Jews to bite off their genitals.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The title “The Good Old Days” comes from the cover of a private photo album kept by concentration camp commandant Kurt Franz of Treblinka. This gruesomely sentimental and unmistakably authentic title introduces an disturbing collection of photographs, diaries, letters home, and confidential reports created by the executioners and sympathetic observers of the Holocaust. “The Good Old Days” reveals startling new evidence of the inhumanity of recent twentieth century history and is published now as yet another irrefutable response to the revisionist historians who claim to doubt the historic truth of the Holocaust.

The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders










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