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Holocaust Views: The Goldhagen Controversy in Retrospect

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2008

István Deák
Columbia University


Holocaust literature is one of the richest devoted to a single event; it is also one of the newest. In the 1950s and '60s one could count on one's fingers the monographs that dealt with the destruction of the Jews. Then came a surge of interest in the 1970s, perhaps due to the arrival on the scene of a European generation innocent of this heinous crime. Since then, the production of books, articles, and films on the subject has continued unabated; in fact, it is growing. Yet the thousands of books and the tens of thousands of articles, many of them not only accurate and scholarly but also beautifully written, have not achieved their purpose. They may have persuaded other scholars but not the public. For when Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust was published, in 1996, with new claims, it was as if the previous literature had never existed.

Review Article
Copyright © Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association 1997

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I am indebted to my friend and fellow-historian Dr. Valur Ingimundarson for his assistance in preparing this review article.

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34. Ibid., 85.

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