The Holocaust and Strategic Bombing

The Holocaust and Strategic Bombing : Genocide and Total War in the Twentieth Century

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Examining the Nazi Holocaust and the U.S.-British strategic bombing of cities during World War II, Markusen and Kopf uncover some striking parallels between the two programs of governmental violence. Although there were important differences in the two cases, the authors show that ultimately democracies and totalitarian governments alike will resort to genocidal killing if it is perceived to be essential to national security. The authors suggest that the continuing reliance on nuclear weapons reflects similar psychological and social factors to those that facilitated the Holocaust and strategic bombing during World War II. War and genocide are the two principal forms of mass killing by governments; they have claimed more than 100 million lives in the twentieth century. The height of the slaughter was reached during World War II, and one legacy of that cataclysm is the continuing threat posed by tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.
Through an examination of the Holocaust (the attempt to exterminate the Jewish people) and Allied strategic bombing (the attempt to exterminate German and Japanese civilians living in cities), Eric Markusen and David Kopf aim to promote understanding of and concern about what may be the most urgent present-day threat to human survivalthe willingness of national governments to plan, prepare for, and carry out the extermination of masses of innocent people.Markusen and Kopf strongly disagree with scholars who regard war and genocide as separate phenomena. They find that despite important differences, there are in fact striking parallels in the psychological, organizational, and scientific-technological factors that contributed to the adoption of these programs for mass killing. The dehumanization of the victims made it psychologically easier to carry out their extermination; the preparations for slaughter within vast bureaucracies diminished the sense of individual responsibility for these lethal policies; and the rationalization of the killing was aided by intellectuals who justified their actions on the basis of allegedly scientific principles and data.
The unsettling truth, according to Markusen and Kopf, is that the majority of those involved in governmental mass killings are psychologically normal and regard themselves as patriots, rather than as mass murderers. Moreover, they find that some of the same psychosocial factors that have accounted for genocide and total war also characterize the preparations of the superpowers for the possibility of future nuclear conflicts. The authors survey dangerous global trends that appear to support continued outbreaks of genocidal killing and conclude with reflections on the prospects for preventing such tragedies.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 354 pages
  • 160.02 x 236.22 x 25.4mm | 703.06g
  • Westview Press Inc
  • United States
  • English
  • 0813375320
  • 9780813375328

Table of contents

Introduction; The Problem Of Governmental Mass Killing; The Historical Ubiquity of Slaughter; The Historiography of Total War and Genocide; The Relationship Between Genocide and Total War; A Conceptual Framework for Further Analysis; Case Studies In The Psychology, Organization, And Technology Of Twentieth-Century Genocide And Total War; The Global Context of Genocide and Total War, 19311945; The Evolution of the Holocaust, 19191945; The Evolution of Allied Strategic Bombing, 19391945; Psychological Factors in the Holocaust and Strategic Bombing; Organizational and Scientific-Technological Factors in the Holocaust and Strategic Bombing; Lessons, Legacies, And; Prospects; What We Have Learned from This Study; Changing the Future.
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About Eric Markusen

Eric Markusen is professor of sociology at Southwest State University in Minnesota. David Kopf is professor of history at the University of Minnesota.
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