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The Politics of Memory

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About the Author

Raul Hilberg is professor emeritus of history at the University of Vermont and author of The Destruction of the European Jews, Perpetrators Victims Bystanders, and Sources of Holocaust Research. He lives in Burlington, Vermont.


In an erudite, witty, and sometimes sarcastic narrative, Hilberg (Perspective, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945, HarperCollins, 1992) takes the reader on a tour of his life and work as an Austrian Jewish refugee who grew up to be one of the most controversial Holocaust historians of the day. Whether or not one agrees with Hilberg's interpretation of the Holocaust, or of his observations about his contemporaries‘e.g., Lucy Dawidowicz‘his life suggests the social, political, and intellectual forces that shape Holocaust historiography. Of particular interest are the people and events that influenced Hilberg's development as a scholar. His book should be read especially by graduate students and younger scholars because he gives important insights on research, writing, publishing, and job hunting. Recommended for libraries with an interest in the Holocaust and Judaica.‘Frederic Krome, Northern Kentucky Univ., Highland Heights

In his writings, eminent Holocaust historian Hilberg (The Destruction of the European Jews) has argued that the Nazi genocide was a bureaucratic, decentralized process, and that the "Final Solution," the plan for total annihilation of European Jewry, was not formulated until 1941. By highlighting the role of the Jewish councils, which he views as agents of accommodation with the German apparatus, and by investigating what he perceives as Jewish victims' lack of resistance, Hilberg has drawn the wrath of scholarly critics. In this defensive, dryly written, sometimes acrimonious memoir, he settles scores with his opponents, notably Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz, and sharply distances himself from Hannah Arendt and her notion of the "banality of evil." Professor emeritus of political science at the University of Vermont, Hilberg relives personal moments of intense drama, as when he escaped Austria with his family in 1939 at the age of 13 or when he arrived in Munich as an American soldier at war's end. There, in the former Nazi party headquarters, he discovered Hitler's private library packed in crates. (Aug.)

I would never have thought that such an artless book would impress me so deeply -- Ralph Giordano Profil, (Vienna) Extraordinarily reserved... but under the surface it is seething. -- Christian Meier Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Hilberg's memoirs allow the reader to fathom what sort of isolation awaits those who choose such a topic for their life's work. -- Hans-Martin Lohmann Frankfurter Rundschau Much more than an autobiography...It is about academic ethos and political manipulation. -- Georg Rigele Die Presse, (Vienna)

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