Belonging and Genocide

Hitler's Community, 1918-1945

Thomas Kühne

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No one has ever posed a satisfactory explanation for the extreme inhumanity of the Holocaust. What enabled millions of Germans to perpetrate or condone the murder of the Jews? In this illuminating book, Thomas Kühne offers a provocative answer. In addition to the hatred of Jews or coercion that created a genocidal society, he contends, the desire for a united “people’s community” made Germans conform and join together in mass crime.

Exploring private letters, diaries, memoirs, secret reports, trial records, and other documents, the author shows how the Nazis used such common human needs as community, belonging, and solidarity to forge a nation conducting the worst crime in history.

Thomas Kühne is Strassler Professor of Holocaust History at the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University. He lives in Massachusetts.

"This is a gripping, even splendid book, synthesizing a breathtaking amount of material."—Margaret Lavinia Anderson, University of California, Berkeley

"Thomas Kühne's excellent book with its provocative thesis is essential reading for anyone interested in the problems of genocide and mass violence. Kühne shows that the Third Reich's promise of a unified national community proved powerfully seductive to Germans and underpinned the Holocaust."—Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota

"Belonging and Genocide is a fascinating example of imaginative insight into the past. It is highly significant for our understanding of the Nazi genocide and may serve as a model to explain other cases of mass murder as well."—Donald Bloxham, author of The Final Solution: A Genocide

“Thomas Kühne, one of the world’s leading historians of German history, has written an explosive book that forever alters our understanding of the wellsprings of the Holocaust. In painful detail, he shows how the genocide of the Jews created a sense of belonging among the Germans. This is a disturbing, radical work, which no serious student of the immensely destructive twentieth century will be able to ignore."—Helmut Walser Smith, Vanderbilt University

"This is a provocative and persuasive explanation of the “fighting power” whose sources continue to challenge students of more conventional military history."—Dennis E. Showalter, Holocaust and Genocide Studies
ISBN: 9780300121865
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
224 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4