Robbery, Ideology, and Realpolitik
Yad Vashem Studies, Volume 35:1
Robbery, Ideology, and Realpolitik. Some Critical Remarks: Götz Aly, Hitlers Volksstaat. Raub, Rassenkrieg und nationaler Sozialismus
Götz Aly’s book Hitlers Volksstaat, with its interpretation of Nazi rule as a “consensual dictatorship” and a welfare state, has attracted attention and criticism in equal part. The present contribution focuses on Aly’s perspective of the persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust, which he interprets as “mass robbery and murder” and hence sees as determined by motives relating to practical politics. In adopting this view, the reviewer considers that Aly fails to take account of the overall ideological context of anti-Jewish policy, a context which he argues was also a decisive factor in the expropriation and robbing of the Jews. The reviewer considers a distinction between ideology and Realpolitik or practical politics, such as that made by Aly but also many of his critics, to be artificial and unconvincing. Rather, antisemitism must be consistently borne in mind as the basis of the persecution of the Jews in all its manifold forms.