Latest Issue

The infinite longing

To the consternation of his scholarly peers, Daniel Goldhagen's book on the Holocaust has become a bestseller in Germany and the US. Jeffrey Herf says that the book is ahistorical and unoriginal

By Jeffrey Herf   November 1996

With its ambitious claim to reconceive the Holocaust, Hitler’s Willing Executioners was in the New York Times bestseller list for 11 weeks. In August, the German edition was published and within a month it had sold 80,000 copies. Daniel Goldhagen sets out to challenge most of the existing literature on the Holocaust by arguing that its driving force was the “eliminationist” anti-Semitic beliefs of ordinary Germans. To the consternation of his scholarly peers, and apparently to the satisfaction of a large reading public, he offers us a Holocaust without politics.

Goldhagen’s book has received a huge amount of favourable attention…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect