Thursday, January 27, 2005


Today is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp at Auschwitz by the Soviet Red Army.  It certainly makes sense to call that a "liberation."  But the word was used in a particular way in the Second World War.  When the Allies retook countries that were conquered or dominated by Germany, they referred to that as "liberation."  The formal name for the retaking of German territory in the pre-1938 borders was "conquest."

There is a huge amount of material available on the Holocaust.  There are books looking at the entire process, or focusing on the experiences of individuals, or examining the role of various institutions from the Nazi SS to the Catholic and Protestant Churches to particular corporations (Ford, IG Farben, etc.).  There are movies, novels, short stories, documentaries, mini-series, and CD-ROMs.  Just this week we're seeing a number of newspaper and magazine articles looking at various aspects of the Holocaust.

These are some of many useful sources on the Holocaust:

Nizkor, a site that provides documentation and extensive information on Holocaust-related topics.

Holocaust-Referenz (German) - focuses specifically on responses to Holocaust deniers.  There are free online translations available from German to English, for instance at Google.

Shoah Project Links (German).

Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State (PBS) - The linked page tells the story of the Red Army's liberation of the death camp.  The introductory screen can be found here. This is the companion Web site to a series currently running on Wednesdays on PBS.

Yad Vashem, Web site of the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

One of the most interesting documents on the history of the Holocaust is the 2000 judgment in a lawsuit brought against an American author by "revisionist" historian David Irving.  Irving is a "highbrow" Holocaust denier who sued Deborah Lipstadt for calling him a Holocaust denier.  The British court found against him.  And the judgment goes into quite a bit of detail on the relevant historical evidence.  It's a good example of careful analysis of a piece of pseudohistory which tells the story of the real history in "debunking" the fakers:  Hon. Mr. Justice Gray 04/11/2000.  The Web site also has additional materials on that trial: Holocaust Denial on Trial.

Holocaust Encyclopedia of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (German, but with English pages): Web site for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin which officially opens May 10,2005.  It also has links to numerous other German-language resources.

Dokumentationsarchiv des österreichischen Widerstands (Documentation Archive of the Austrian Resistance): Web site devoted to the anti-Nazi Austrian resistance during the Third Reich, and includes material related to the Holocaust and postwar rightwing extremism in Austria.

Austrian Historians' Commission (German): Includes recent studies related to the Third Reich and the Holocaust.

German Auswärtigen Amt (German): German Foreign Ministry information.  Also has English and Spanish pages.  Includes material like this speech Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Green): Anti-Semitism in Europe and relations between Germans and Jews today 11/19/04.

The Shoah, that shameful crime against humanity, was committed in Germany and by Germans. And we must not forget: by persecuting and murdering German and European Jews, Germanyalso destroyed a major part of its own culture and of ist own soul. The resulting void pains us to this day.

The memory of the Shoah will continue to define German policy. This is especially true of our relations with Israel. They will always have a very special character. The Federal Republic of Germany will always work tirelessly and resolutely for the right to exist and the security of the State of Israel and its people. Our solidarity with Israel is unshakeable. ...

Our historic and moral responsibility for the Shoah also means above all that we have to resolutely counter all forms of anti-Semitism, all forms of racism and xenophobia. We must not evade this responsibility, our vigilance must never wane.

How we in Europe and in Germany treat citizens of the Jewish faith says a great deal about us. How welcome, at home and safe Jews feel with us, makes a decisive statement about ourselves and our democracy.

Germany's shame over evil of the Holocaust by Charles Bremner Times of London 01/26/05

Oswiecim, City of the Dead by Jan Puhl Der Spiegel 01/26/05 (English)

As Long as We Can Breath, We Can Hope, an interview with Auschwitz survivor Anita Lasker-Wallfisch Der Spiegel 01/24/05 (English).

Der Sache selbst von Lorenz Jäger Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) 01/26/05 (German).

Der Mythos von der Verdrängung von Patrick Bahners  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) 01/26/05 (German).

Deutsche Verantwortung von Knut Pries Frankfurter Rundschau accessed 01/26/05 (German).

Slideshow and narrative in Spanish at El Mundo: Auschwitz por 60 años después

Combatting anti-Semitism Ha'aretz (Israel) editorial 01/26/05.

Indeed, there is nothing in the history of humankind comparable to the murder of European Jewry. The world has experienced cases of genocide, of horrific deeds in the tempest of battle and world wars in which tens of millions died. But the murder of European Jewry was not done in the heat of battle, nor was it a spontaneous act of violence. It was premeditated, thought-out, well-planned - and it was meant to wipe the memory of the children of Israel from the face of the planet.

The systematic murder was the climax of a process that began with Jew-hatred in earliest times. Afterward, in the Middle Ages, Jews suffered from anti-Semitism: persecution, pogroms, expulsions. The next stage came in the modern era, when one of the most developed countries in the world constructed a supposedly scientific theory about the purity of the Aryan race and the inferiority of the Jewish race.

For survivors, Auschwitz ceremony `closes a circle' by Aviva Lori Ha'aretz (Israel) 01/27/05.

Marking Holocaust, Sharon Blasts Israel Critics by Dan Williams (Reuters) 01/27/05

The legacy of Auschwitz by Samuel Pisar Ha'aretz (Israel) 01/27/05.

World leaders gather in Auschwitz, 60 years after liberation by Aviva Lori Ha'aretz (Israel) 01/27/05.

There are many good books available on the subject.  I'll just mention a few here:

Hitler and the Holocaust by Robert Wistrich  (2001).  This gives a good survey of recent research in the field of Holocaust studies.

Nazi Germany and the Jews, vol 1: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 by Saul Friedländer (1997)

The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion Under Nazism by David Bankier (1996)

Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher Browning (1993)

The Destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg (1961, with later revisions).  I've seen this credited as the first book-length study of the Holocaust in the US.  In any case, it's an excellent general history that has held up well in light of later research.

The Holocaust in Historical Perspective by Yehuda Bauer (1978)

Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust by Tom Segev and Haim Watzman (1993).  Examines the evolution of Israeli views of the Holocaust.  It includes accounts of two trials that were pivotal in this process: the well-known trial of Adolf Eichmann and the lesser-known "Kastner trial."

Hitler's Weltanschauung;: A blueprint for power by Eberhard Jäckel (1972, English edition)

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