A world without Jews The Nazi imagination from persecution to genocide

Alon Confino

Book - 2014

"Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass mu...rder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years. The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves-where they came from and where they were heading-and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration--and justification--for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable"--

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Subjects
Published
New Haven : Yale University Press c2014.
©2014
Language
English
Physical Description
xv, 284 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 247-267) and index.
ISBN
9780300188547
0300188544
Main Author
Alon Confino (author)
  • Part I 1933-1938: The Jew as the origins of modernity. A new beginning by burning books ; Origins, eternal and local ; Imagining the Jews as everywhere and already gone
  • Part II 1938-1941: The Jew as the origins of moral past. Burning the book of books ; The coming of the flood
  • Part III 1941-1945: The Jew as the origins of history. Imagining a Genesis
  • Epilogue: a world with Jews.
Review by Choice Reviews

Confino (Virginia) explores the elusive "inexplicit and unconscious" thought process driving the evolution of a Nazi Germany without Jews. Acknowledging the deep roots of German anti-Semitism, Confino detects three key breaking points, namely, Hilter's emergence as chancellor in January 1933, Kristallnacht in November 1938, and Hitler's speech to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939. Each event unleashed a torrent of Nazi emotions, making the initially inconceivable an imaginable reality. But more than just a Germany without Jews, the "Nazi imagination" highlights Jewish history as a struggle with fundamental evil. Nazi book burning, especially of the Bible, served to cleanse German culture and history of Jewish influence. Yet, contrary to the title, Confino delves less into psychoanalytic approaches to the Nazi imagination than he does to visual manifestations of Nazi anti-Semitism, streams of local and national anti-Jewish legislation, and Nazi efforts to document the place of Jewish history in German life. Confino sweeps aside existing scholarship as mired in excessive documentation, and for ignoring base-level emotions. Although he loses his focus on the Nazis themselves, Confino raises numerous provocative questions for advanced students trying to grapple with dissecting Nazi culture. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. --D. A. Meier, Dickinson State University David A. Meier Dickinson State University http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/CHOICE.184735 Copyright 2014 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Confino (history, Univ. of Virginia; Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust as Historical Understanding) focuses on a less examined part of Kristallnacht. Why, on November 9, 1938, did Christian Germans, in synergy with the Nazi Party, celebrate the burning of the Hebrew Bible that night throughout Germany? By 1938 the Jews were largely removed, both physically and economically, from most of German life, yet they loomed large in the Nazi imagination. Confino sees the burning of the Hebrew Bible as part of a process whereby the Nazis, considering the Jews as the source of all evil in the world, moved logically to an effort to create a new version of Aryan history that severed Christianity from its Jewish origins. Hence the Bible burning. Thereafter, the Jews' very existence needed to be destroyed in order to assure a racial utopia. The popularity of Nazi ideology among the general population meant that while the idea of Auschwitz did not exist in the 1930s, its purpose was easily accepted when it was created. VERDICT Well written and with a provocative thesis, this book will interest Holocaust scholars as well as students of modern genocides.—Frederic Krome, Univ. of Cincinnati Clermont Coll. [Page 127]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This new assessment of the burning of the Hebrew Bible by the Nazis on November 9, 1938 explores how the Germans came to conceive of the idea of Germany without the Jews, which required that Judaism be erased from Christian history.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This penetrating new assessment of the burning of the Hebrew Bible by the Nazis on November 9, 1938 explores how the Germans came to conceive of the idea of Germany without the Jews, which required that both Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years. The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves--where they came from and where they were heading--and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration--and justification--for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.   The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves'where they came from and where they were heading'and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration'and justification'for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project

Review by Publisher Summary 6

A groundbreaking reexamination of the Holocaust and of how Germans understood their genocidal project Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.   The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves'where they came from and where they were heading'and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration'and justification'for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.