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In one of the darker aspects of Nazi Germany, churches and universities – generally respected institutions – grew to accept and support Nazi ideology. Robert P. Ericksen explains how an advanced, highly-educated, Christian nation could commit the crimes of the Holocaust. This book describes how Germany's intellectual and spiritual leaders enthusiastically partnered with Hitler's regime, thus becoming active participants in the persecution of Jews, and ultimately, in the Holocaust. Ericksen also examines Germany's deeply flawed yet successful postwar policy of denazification in these institutions. Complicity in the Holocaust argues that enthusiasm for Hitler within churches and universities effectively gave Germans permission to participate in the Nazi regime.Read more
- Focuses on those we might consider 'Good Germans,' but shows how enthusiastically they supported Hitler
- Explains what caused Germans to accept and support an ideology as radical and brutal as Hitler's
- Illustrates the historical setting - for example through the lost war and a sense of national crisis
- Asks whether there are any lessons to be learned
Reviews & endorsements
"Based on decades of his own research and complete mastery of both German- and English-language scholarship in the field, Robert Ericksen demonstrates convincingly how a critical mass of churchmen and academics in Germany enthusiastically embraced the Nazi regime and provided the rationalizations and adjustment of moral norms that permitted ordinary Germans to accept and even implement the regime’s brutal and murderous policies."
Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Chapel HillSee more reviews
"Robert P. Ericksen has given us a masterful comparative study of the churches and the universities in Nazi Germany. Two institutions entrusted to foster the collective conscience and intellect of the German people are revealed to have compromised their integrity by collaborating in the Holocaust, despite the fact that Jews had been crucial in creating Christianity (Jesus and Paul) and enhancing German academic scholarship."
Susannah Heschel, author of The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (2008)
"Robert P. Erickson's reputation as an important authority on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust is based not only on his careful and original scholarship, but also on his insistence on moral clarity. He does not shirk from assigning individual and collective responsibility for the crimes of Nazism. This book makes compelling reading, and will most certainly stimulate debate among its many readers."
Alan E. Steinweis, University of Vermont
"This book deserves to be celebrated for its moral courage, lucid prose and splendid craftsmanship - in spite of its complex and emotive content, it reads with beguiling simplicity."
Times Higher Education
"… a thoroughly successful summary …"
Dirk Schuster, Arbeitstitel
"Ericksen's book is helpful because it begins the story of complicity not in 1933, with the rise of Adolf Hitler to the chancellorship, but instead in 1923, with the decade-long religious and ideological tumultuousness that marked the Weimar Republic."
Charles Gallagher, German Studies Review
"… a compelling piece of scholarship that is eminently readable, frequently thought-provoking, and deeply insightful."
Derek Hastings, The Catholic Historical Review
'More forcefully and uncompromisingly than any other Holocaust scholar, Ericksen argues for the importance of churches and universities to Nazi-era Germans. … Ericksen’s assessments of American occupation policy and post-war discourse on the role of the clergy and universities in the Holocaust are among his most crucial contributions.' Paul Bookbinder, European History Quarterly
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- Date Published: February 2012
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107663336
- length: 280 pages
- dimensions: 226 x 150 x 18 mm
- weight: 0.43kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Why the Holocaust matters in a century of death
2. Churches and the rise of Hitler
3. Universities and the rise of Hitler
4. Consent and collaboration: the churches through 1945
5. The intellectual arm: universities through 1945
6. Repressing and reprocessing the past: denazification and its legacy of dissimulation
7. A closer look: denazification at Göttingen University
Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses
- Christian Churches in Nazi Germany
- Debating the Nazi Past
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