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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…

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