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2005-01-28—Reaction to Column on Goldhagen

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2005 blog


Letter to Editor

Thoughts on Daniel Goldhagen and his
'Hitler's Willing Executioners' thesis
,  Jan. 28, 2005

see previous column         
holocaust file     book file


I read Hitler's Willing Executioners when it was published.  Although I agreed with his thrust, I had three reservations at the time, and now: First, others far better traced the roots of German and European anti-Semitism; Second, he failed to examine the political mechanics by which this anti-Semitism was transformed into widespread, complicit action in Germany, and not elsewhere; Third, he is too black-and-white, not recognizing anything in between, and thus undermined his case before other academics and many in the public (not everyone is a hero, which does not make them complicit, but as he says also does not justify later denial of knowing if they did.  Many who commit an evil learn not to repeat doing that evil).
It is very important to a society to publicly recognize evil, and to hold forth the ideals of positive action.  It is AS important that the populace be taught in word and deed how to act against evil, and to practice that.  In America and elsewhere in the West, we've done a nice job of the former but, especially in Europe and much of America — almost half the electorate — a poor job of the latter. 
Bruce Kesler, Encinitas, California, Jan. 28, 2005