Why the Germans? Why the Jews?

Why the Germans? Why the Jews? : Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust

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Why did the Holocaust happen in Germany, of all places? How did a country known for its culture and refinement turn so rabidly anti-Semitic? Why did a nation where Jews had full civil rights and many opportunitiesandmdash;a place that Jews had eagerly flocked to in the early twentieth century to escape racist persecution in Poland and Russiaandmdash;turn upon them so violently just a few decades later? Countless people have grappled with these questions, but few have come up with answers as original and perceptive as those of German historian G tz Aly. Tracing the prehistory of the Holocaustandmdash;from the 1800s to the Nazis' assumption of power in 1933andmdash;Aly shows that German anti-Semitism did not originate with racist ideology or religious animosity, as is often supposed. Instead, through striking statistics and economic analysis, he demonstrates that it was rooted in a more basic emotion: material envy. As Germany made its way through the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, the largely agrarian, mostly illiterate German majority found itself floundering in the rapidly modernizing world.On the other hand, the urban, well-educated Jewish minority enjoyed great success. Less than thirty years after they were freed from the ghettos, more than half the Jews were firmly middle class, and a sizable proportion of them were in the upper-middle classes. Envying this success, Germans embraced compensatory theories of Jewish racial inferiority. And the growing resentment pervading society provided fertile ground for Hitler and his genocidal politics. Aly's groundbreaking account of this fatal social dynamic opens up a new vantage point on the greatest crime in history and is sure to prompt heated debate for years to come.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Melbourne University Press
  • Melbourne University Press Digital
  • Australia
  • 0522866735
  • 9780522866735

About Aly Gotz

G tz Aly is the author of Hitler's Beneficiaries and Into the Tunnel, among other books. One of the most respected historians of the Third Reich and the Holocaust, he has received the National Jewish Book Award, Germany's prestigious Heinrich Mann Prize, and numerous other honors.show more