|Born||Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
June 30, 1959
|Occupation||Political scientist, author|
|Notable works||Hitler's Willing Executioners, A Moral Reckoning, Worse Than War|
|Spouse||Sarah Williams Goldhagen|
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (born June 30, 1959) is an American author and former associate professor of government and social studies at Harvard University. Goldhagen reached international attention and broad criticism as the author of two controversial books about the Holocaust: Hitler's Willing Executioners (1996) and A Moral Reckoning (2002). He is also the author of Worse Than War (2009), which examines the phenomenon of genocide, and The Devil That Never Dies, in which he traces a worldwide rise in virulent anti-Semitism. (2013).
Daniel Goldhagen was born in Boston, Massachusetts to Erich and Norma Goldhagen. He grew up in nearby Newton. His wife Sarah (née Williams) is an architectural historian, and critic for The New Republic magazine.
Erich Goldhagen is a retired Harvard professor and is the father of Goldhagen. He is a Holocaust survivor who with his family was interned in a Jewish ghetto in Czernowitz (present-day Ukraine). He credits his father as a "model of intellectual sobriety and probity". Goldhagen has written that his "understanding of Nazism and of the Holocaust is firmly indebted" to his father's influence. In 1977, Goldhagen entered Harvard and remained there for some twenty years, first as an undergraduate and graduate student, then as an assistant professor in the Government and Social Studies Department.
During early graduate studies, he attended a lecture by Saul Friedländer, in which he had what he describes as a "lightbulb moment": the functionalism versus intentionalism debate did not address the question, “When Hitler ordered the annihilation of the Jews, why did people execute the order?” Goldhagen wanted to investigate who the German men and women who killed the Jews were and their reasons for killing.
Goldhagen has a son named Gideon.
Academic and literary career
As a graduate student, Goldhagen undertook research in the German archives. The thesis of Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust proposes that, during the Holocaust, many killers were ordinary Germans, who killed for having been raised in a profoundly antisemitic culture, and thus were acculturated — "ready and willing" — to execute the Nazi government's genocidal plans.
Goldhagen's first notable work was a book review titled "False Witness" published by The New Republic magazine on April 17, 1989. It was one in a series of hostile reviews of the 1988 book Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? by an American-Jewish professor of Princeton University born in Luxembourg, Arno J. Mayer. Goldhagen wrote that “Mayer’s enormous intellectual error” was in ascribing the cause of the Holocaust to anti-Communism, rather than to anti-Semitism, and criticized Prof. Mayer's saying that most massacres of Jews in the USSR, during the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa in the summer of 1941 were committed by local peoples (see the Lviv pogroms for more historical background), with little Wehrmacht participation. Goldhagen accused him also of misrepresenting the facts about the Wannsee Conference (1942), which was meant for plotting the genocide of European Jews, not (as Mayer said) merely the resettlement of the Jews. Goldhagen further accused Mayer of obscurantism, of suppressing historical fact, and of being an apologist for Nazi Germany, like Ernst Nolte, for attempting to “de-demonize” National Socialism. Also in 1989, historian Lucy Dawidowicz reviewed Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? in Commentary magazine, and praised Goldhagen's "False Witness" review, identifying him as a rising Holocaust historian who formally rebutted “Mayer's falsification” of history.
In 2003, Goldhagen resigned from Harvard to focus on writing. His work synthesizes four historical elements, kept distinct for analysis; as presented in the books A Moral Reckoning: the Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair (2002) and Worse Than War (2009): (i) description (what happens), (ii) explanation (why it happens), (iii) moral evaluation (judgment), and (iv) prescription (what is to be done?). According to Goldhagen, his Holocaust studies address questions about the political, social, and cultural particulars behind other genocides: “Who did the killing?” “What, despite temporal and cultural differences, do mass killings have in common?”, which yielded Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity, about the global nature of genocide, and averting such crimes against humanity.
Hitler's Willing Executioners
Hitler's Willing Executioners (1996) posits that the vast majority of ordinary Germans were "willing executioners" in the Holocaust because of a unique and virulent "eliminationist antisemitism" in German identity which developed in the preceding centuries. Goldhagen argued that this "eliminationist antisemitism" was widespread in Germany, that this type of antisemitism was unique to Germany and because of it, ordinary Germans willingly killed Jews. Goldhagen asserted that this mentality grew out of medieval attitudes with a religious basis, but was eventually secularized. Goldhagen's book was meant to be a "thick description" in the manner of Clifford Geertz. As such, to prove his thesis Goldhagen focused on the behavior of ordinary Germans who killed Jews, especially the behavior of the men of Order Police (Orpo) Reserve Battalion 101 in occupied Poland in 1942 to argue ordinary Germans possessed by "eliminationist antisemitism" chose to willingly murder Jews in cruel and sadistic ways. In this, Goldhagen was essentially rehashing much of what had been published before, adding his touch of intentionalist prose to already covered ground. Scholars such as Yehuda Bauer, Otto Kulka, Israel Gutman, among others, asserted long before Goldhagen, the primacy of ideology, radical anti-Semitism, and the corollary of an inimitability exclusive to Germany.
The book, which began as a doctoral dissertation, was written largely as an answer to Christopher Browning's 1992 publication on the Holocaust, Ordinary Men. Much of Goldhagen's book was concerned with the same Order Police Battalion 101 that Browning had studied, though with very different conclusions. Browning’s book recognizes the impact of the unending campaign of anti-Semitic propaganda, but takes other contributing factors into account as well such as: the fear of breaking ranks, career advancement, the concern of not being seen as weak, and the issue of the bureaucracy of a state apparatus. Likewise, Browning asserts that battlefield conditions and peer-bonding imparted their coercion on the behavior of the Germans. Goldhagen does not acknowledge these other variables for their overall influence on the volunteer police battalions and maintains that they acted exclusively of their own volition, motivated intrinsically by putative anti-Semitic eliminationism. These alleged shortfalls nothwithstanding, Goldhagen's book went on to win the American Political Science Association's 1994 Gabriel A. Almond Award in comparative politics and the Democracy Prize of the Journal for German and International Politics, for helping to sharpen public understanding about the past during a period of radical change in Germany. Time magazine reported that it was one of the two most important books of 1996, and The New York Times called it "one of those rare, new works that merit the appellation 'landmark'".
The book sparked controversy in the press and academic circles. Some historians have characterized its reception as an extension of the Historikerstreit, the German historiographical debate of the 1980s that sought to explain Nazi history. The book was a "publishing phenomenon", achieving fame in both the United States and Germany despite being criticized by some historians, who called it ahistorical and, according to Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg, "totally wrong about everything" and "worthless." Due to its alleged "generalizing hypothesis" about Germans, it has been characterized as anti-German. The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer claims that "Goldhagen stumbles badly," and
Does not seem to be acquainted with some basic developments in German society in the nineteenth century. Certainly, there was what he calls eliminationist antisemitism and its impact increased as the century matured...But antisemitism came in different forms, and Goldhagen puts all antisemitism in the same basket, including the liberal type that wanted to see the Jews disappear by assimilation and conversion...The vast majority of German antisemitics did not wish to abolish formal Jewish emancipation. Goldhagen makes much of the radical antisemitism of the Conservative Party in Germany; but in 1893 it obtained less than 10 percent of the votes, whereas the National Liberals, among whom there were a number of former Jews, were much more numerous. Goldhagen ignores this and makes the counterfactual statement that "conservatives and völkisch nationalists in Germany...formed the vast majority of the population.
By 1912, the Social Democrats, with an explicitly anti-antisemitic program, were the largest party in the German Reichstag, and the Progressives ran very strongly as well...Formally, at least, the Jews had been fully emancipated with the establishment of the German Empire, although they were kept out of certain influential occupations, enjoyed extraordinary prosperity...Germans intermarried with Jews: in the 1930s some 50,000 Jews were living in mixed German-Jewish marriages, so at least 50,000 Germans, and presumably parts of their families, had familial contact with the Jews. Goldhagen himself mentions that a large proportion of the Jewish upper classes in Germany converted to Christianity in the nineteenth century. In a society where eliminationist norms were universal and in which Jews were rejected even after they had converted, or so he argues, the rise of this extreme form of assimilation of Jews would hardly have been possible."
Bauer argues that "Goldhagen's thesis does not work." and charges "...that the anti-German bias of his book, almost a racist bias (however much he may deny it) leads nowhere." The American historian Fritz Stern denounced the book as unscholarly and full of racist Germanophobia. Hilberg summarised the debates, "by the end of 1996, it was clear that in sharp distinction from lay readers, much of the academic world had wiped Goldhagen off the map."
A Moral Reckoning
In 2002, Goldhagen published A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair, an account of the role of the Catholic Church before, during and after World War II. In the book, Goldhagen acknowledges that individual bishops and priests hid and saved a large number of Jews, but also asserts that others promoted or accepted anti-Semitism before and during the war, and some played a direct role in the persecution of Jews in Europe during the Holocaust.
Goldhagen noted in an interview with The Atlantic, as well as in the book's introduction, that the title and the first page of the book reveal its purpose as a moral, rather than historical analysis, asserting that he has invited European Church representatives to present their own historical account in discussing morality and reparation.
Worse Than War
In Worse than War Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity (2009), Goldhagen described Nazism and the Holocaust as "eliminationist assaults." He worked on the book intermittently for a decade, interviewing atrocity perpetrators and victims in Rwanda, Guatemala, Cambodia, Kenya, and the USSR, and politicians, government officers, and private humanitarian organization officers. Goldhagen states that his aim is to help "craft institutions and politics that will save countless lives and also lift the lethal threat under which so many people live”. He concludes that eliminationist assaults are preventable because "the world's non-mass-murdering countries are wealthy and powerful, having prodigious military capabilities (and they can band together)", whereas the perpetrator countries "are overwhelmingly poor and weak."
The book was cinematically adapted, and the documentary film of Worse Than War was first presented in the U.S. in Aspen, Colorado on August 6, 2009 – the sixty-fourth anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. In Germany, the documentary was first broadcast by the ARD television network October 18, 2009, and was to be nationally broadcast by the PBS in 2010.
David Rieff, characterizing Goldhagen as a "pro-Israel polemicist and amateur historian", writes that the subtext of what Goldhagen deems "eliminationism" may be his own view of contemporary Islam. Rieff writes that Goldhagen's website states that the author "speaks nationally ... about Political Islam's Offensive, the threat to Israel, Hitler's Willing Executioners, the Globalization of Antisemitism, and more." Rieff questions Goldhagen's equating the "culture of death" of Nazism with that of "political Islam", as well as Goldhagen's conclusion that, in order to prevent "eliminationism", the United Nations should be remade into an interventionist entity focusing on "a devoted international push for democratizing more countries". Adam Jones, who praised this book for its fluid style and commendable passion, concludes however, that the book is undermined by a casual approach to basic research, and by the author's tendency to overreach and overstate his case. The British historian David Elstein accused Goldhagen of manipulating his sources to make a false accusation of genocide against the British during the Mau Mau Uprising of the 1950s in Kenya. Elstein wrote in his view that the chapter on Kenya left Goldhagen open "...to the charge that he is the kind of scholar who is either unaware of the facts or prefers to exclude those which do not fit his thesis."
Awards and recognition
- The Jewish Daily Forward, named to Forward 50, 2002 and 1996
- Journal for German and International Politics Triennial Democracy Prize, 1997, with laudatio given by Jürgen Habermas.
- National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist for Hitler's Willing Executioners, 1996
- Time, named Hitler's Willing Executioners one of two best non-fiction books of the year, 1996
- American Political Science Association, Gabriel A. Almond Award for the best dissertation in the field of comparative politics, 1994
- Harvard University, Sumner Dissertation Prize, 1993
- Whiting Fellowship, 1990–1991
- Fulbright IIE Grant for Dissertation Research, 1988–1989
- Krupp Foundation Fellowship for Dissertation Research, 1988–1989
- Center for European Studies Summer Research Grant, 1987
- Jacob Javits Fellowship 1996-1988, 1989–1990
- Harvard College, Philo Sherman Bennett Thesis Prize, 1982
- German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) Fellowship, 1979–1980
- 1989: "False Witness", The New Republic, April 17, 1989, Volume 200, No. 16, Issue # 3, pp. 39–44
- 1996: Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and The Holocaust, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, ISBN 978-0-679-44695-8
- 2002: A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, ISBN 978-0-375-41434-3
- 2009: Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault On Humanity, PublicAffairs, New York, ISBN 978-1-58648-769-0
- 2013: The Devil That Never Dies: The Rise and Threat of Global Antisemitism
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 & 2 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- Jonah Goldhagen's Devil That Never Dies
- Smith, Dinita (April 1, 1996). "Challenging a View of the Holocaust". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- "The New Republic Masthead". Retrieved 2009-10-02.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (1997). Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and The Holocaust. Alfred A. Knopf.
- Ruber, Deborah Bradley (January 9, 1997). "Goldhagen Wins German Prize For Holocaust Book". The Harvard University Gazette. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- "Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's Website". Retrieved 2009-10-02.
- Carl F. Lankowski, ed. (August 1999). Breakdown, Breakup, Breakthrough: Germany's Difficult Passage To Modernity. Berghahn Books, Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-57181-211-7.
- Guttenplan, D. D. The Holocaust on Trial, New York: Norton, 2001 p. 74. ISBN 0393346056.
- Goldhagen, Daniel. "False Witness," The New Republic, April 17, 1989 pp. 39-43.
- Dawidowicz, Lucy "Perversions of the Holocaust" pp. 56–60 from Commentary, vol. 88, no. 4, October 1989 p. 58.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (2002). A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church In The Holocaust And Its Unfufilled Duty of Repair. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 5–6. ISBN 978-0-375-41434-3.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (October 2009). Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. New York: Public Affairs. p. 32. ISBN 978-1-58648-769-0.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (October 2009). Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. New York: Public Affairs. p. 631. ISBN 978-1-58648-769-0.
- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and The Holocaust. Alfred A Knopf. p.53
- Clendinnean, Inga Reading the Holocaust, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999 page 117.
- Clendinnean, Inga Reading the Holocaust, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999 pp. 115–117.
- Bauer, Yehuda (Jan–April 1997). "On Perpetrators of the Holocaust and Public Discourse". The Jewish Quarterly Review. New Series. 87 (3/4): 345. Check date values in:
- Bauer, Yehuda Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale: New Haven, 2000 p. 107.
- Stern, Fritz (Nov–Dec 1996). "The Goldhagen Controversy: One Nation, One People, One Theory?". Foreign Affairs. 75 (6): 134–135. doi:10.2307/20047834.
- Browning, Christopher (1992). Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: Harper Collins. pp. 195–201. ISBN 9780060995065.
- Harvard Office of News and Public Affairs (January 9, 1997). "Harvard Gazette". News.harvard.edu. Retrieved 2012-08-26.
- "Books: The Best Books of 1996". Time. December 23, 1996.
- Bernstein, Richard (March 9, 1997). "Was Slaughter of Jews Embraced by Germans?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
- Donat, Helmut (1991). "Auschwitz erst möglich gemacht?": Überlegungen zur jüngsten konservativen Geschichtsbewältigung. Bremen: Umbruch Verlag & Versandantiquariat. ISBN 9783924444396.
- Crawshaw, Steve (2004). Easier fatherland. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 136–7. ISBN 978-0-8264-6320-3.
- Shatz, Adam. (April 8, 1998) Goldhagen's willing executioners: the attack on a scholarly superstar, and how he fights back Slate. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
- Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship : Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation London : Arnold 2000, pp. 254–256.
- "The Past Distorted: The Goldhagen Controversy" in Einstein’s German World, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999, pp. 272–88.
- Kershaw, Ian The Nazi Dictatorship : Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation London: Arnold 2000, p. 255.
- "The Goldhagen Controversy: Agonising Problems, Scholarly Failure, and the Political Dimension", in German History, vol. 15, 1997, pp. 80–91.
- "Ordinary People?" National Review, vol. 48 no. # 12, July 1, 1996, pp. 54–56.
- "RAUL HILBERG – IS THERE A NEW ANTI-SEMITISM? A CONVERSATION WITH RAUL HILBERG – LOGOS 6.1–2 WINTER-SPRING 2007". Logosjournal.com. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- Bill Niven, William John Niven. Facing the Nazi Past: United Germany and the Legacy of the Third Reich. 2004, p. 116
- Robert R. Shandley. Unwilling Germans?: the Goldhagen debate. 1998, p. 17
- Paul Gottfried. Multiculturalism and the politics of guilt. 2004, p. 94
- Bauer, Yehuda Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale: New Haven, 2000 pp. 98–99.
- Bauer, Yehuda Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale: New Haven, 2000 p. 100.
- Bauer, Yehuda Rethinking the Holocaust, Yale: New Haven, 2000 p. 108.
- Stern, Fritz. "The Goldhagen Controversy: The Past Distorted", in: Einstein's German World, pp. 272–88, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999; ISBN 0-691-05939-X
- Hilberg, Raul. The Goldhagen Phenomenon. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 23, No. 4 (Summer, 1997), pp. 721–28
- Goldhagen, Daniel (2002). A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church In The Holocaust And Its Unfufilled Duty of Repair. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-0-375-41434-3.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (2002). A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church In The Holocaust And Its Unfufilled Duty of Repair. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 226. ISBN 978-0-375-41434-3.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (2002). A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church In The Holocaust And Its Unfufilled Duty of Repair. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 227. ISBN 978-0-375-41434-3.
- Goldhagen, Daniel (2002). A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church In The Holocaust And Its Unfufilled Duty of Repair. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-375-41434-3.
- "The Usefulness of Daniel Goldhagen" The Weekly Standard, October 23, 2002
- Gritz, Jennie Rothenberg. (January 31, 2003) The Guilt of the Church. The Atlantic. Retrieved January 4, 2008.
- Worse than War, p. 658
- "Review: The Willing Misinterpreter". The National Interest. October 28, 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-06.
- "Worse Than War Screening". Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- "ARD Program Guide for October 18, 2009". Retrieved 2009-10-02.
- "PBS International: Worse Than War Documentary". Retrieved 2009-10-03.
- Adam Jones' book reviews, Journal of Genocide Research (2010), 12:3–4, pp. 271–78
- Elstein, David (March 4, 2010). "Daniel Goldhagen and Kenya: recycling fantasy". Open Democracy. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- Eley, Geoff (ed.) The Goldhagen Effect: History, Memory, Nazism—Facing the German Past. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-472-06752-7.
- Feldkamp, Michael F. Goldhagens unwillige Kirche. Alte und neue Fälschungen über Kirche und Papst während der NS-Herrschaft. München: Olzog-Verlag, 2003. ISBN 978-3-7892-8127-3
- Finkelstein, Norman & Birn, Ruth Bettina. A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth. New York: Henry Holt, 1998. ISBN 978-0-8050-5871-0
- Kwiet, Konrad: “‘Hitler’s Willing Executioners’ and ‘Ordinary Germans’: Some Comments on Goldhagen’s Ideas”. Jewish Studies Yearbook 1 (2000).
- LaCapra, Dominick. “Perpetrators and Victims: The Goldhagen Debate and Beyond,” in LaCapra, D. Writing History, Writing Trauma Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001, 114–140.
- Mommsen, Hans, Podium discussion, Die Deutschen – Ein Volk von Tätern?: Zur historisch-politischen Debatte um das Buch von Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, ‘Hitlers willige Vollstrecker,’ ed. Dieter Dowe (Bonn, 1996), 73. In “Structure and Agency in the Holocaust: Daniel J. Goldhagen and His Critics” by A.D. Moses, History and Theory 37, no. 2 (May 1998): 197.
- Pohl, Dieter. "Die Holocaust-Forschung und Goldhagens Thesen," Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 45 (1997).
- Rychlak, Ronald. "Goldhagen vs. Pius XII" First Things (June/July 2002)
- Shandley, Robert & Riemer, Jeremiah (eds.) Unwilling Germans? The Goldhagen Debate. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-8166-3101-8
- Stern, Fritz. "The Goldhagen Controversy: The Past Distorted" in Einstein's German World, 272–288. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-691-05939-6
- Wesley, Frank. The Holocaust and Anti-semitism: the Goldhagen Argument and Its Effects. San Francisco: International Scholars Publications, 1999. ISBN 978-1-57309-235-7
- The “Willing Executioners/Ordinary Men” Debate: Selections from the Symposium, April 8, 1996, introduced by Michael Berenbaum (Washington, D.C.: USHMM, 2001).
- Quotations related to Daniel Goldhagen at Wikiquote
- Goldhagen's new website.
- Goldhagen's old website at the Wayback Machine (archived December 4, 2000).
- Daniel Goldhagen interview on Counterpoint Radio with Marcus W. Orr Center for the Humanities at the University of Memphis.
- on YouTube
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Interview, PBS
- German lessons, Goldhagen authored article at The Guardian
- Articles by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen at Los Angeles Times
- Daniel Jonah Goldhagen – The New York Review of Books
- Discussion of Goldhagen by Various Scholars
- Interview with Daniel J. Goldhagen: Deterrence as the Only Prevention for Genocide