The Goldhagen Phenomenon: Daniel J. Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
Hilberg finds Goldhagen’s research and analysis faulty at every turn. Two of the main points in Goldhagen’s book were already widely known long ago: the shooters were willing, and generally they were not specially selected for their task. The reviewer also takes issue with a third major point in the book - Goldhagen’s presentation of German antisemitism. Contrary to Goldhagen, Hilberg asserts that German antisemitism was weaker than the East European variety prior to the Nazi assumption of power. Moreover, the many killers from other nations were hardly products of German antisemitism, which casts doubt on the German antisemitism explanation of the Holocaust. The book was popular because it gave general readers a simple, pat explanation for the Holocaust. However, for the specialists, his “explanation” settled nothing.