The Nazi Conscience

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Harvard University Press, 2003 - History - 362 pages
3 Reviews

The Nazi conscience is not an oxymoron. In fact, the perpetrators of genocide had a powerful sense of right and wrong, based on civic values that exalted the moral righteousness of the ethnic community and denounced outsiders.

Claudia Koonz's latest work reveals how racial popularizers developed the infrastructure and rationale for genocide during the so-called normal years before World War II. Her careful reading of the voluminous Nazi writings on race traces the transformation of longtime Nazis' vulgar anti-Semitism into a racial ideology that seemed credible to the vast majority of ordinary Germans who never joined the Nazi Party. Challenging conventional assumptions about Hitler, Koonz locates the source of his charisma not in his summons to hate, but in his appeal to the collective virtue of his people, the Volk.

From 1933 to 1939, Nazi public culture was saturated with a blend of racial fear and ethnic pride that Koonz calls ethnic fundamentalism. Ordinary Germans were prepared for wartime atrocities by racial concepts widely disseminated in media not perceived as political: academic research, documentary films, mass-market magazines, racial hygiene and art exhibits, slide lectures, textbooks, and humor. By showing how Germans learned to countenance the everyday persecution of fellow citizens labeled as alien, Koonz makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Holocaust.

The Nazi Conscience chronicles the chilling saga of a modern state so powerful that it extinguished neighborliness, respect, and, ultimately, compassion for all those banished from the ethnic majority.

 

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User Review  - Chris_El - LibraryThing

The holocaust when considered seems to invariably lead one to question how such terrible things could have been done to the Jews in Germany and Europe. Many people who have studied the age or perhaps ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

An examination of how, in the process of downplaying their most raucous displays of racism, Hitler and the Nazi Party managed to achieve a wider spread of their implicit principles of racial combat ... Read full review

Contents

An Ethnic Conscience
4
The Politics of Virtue
17
Allies in the Academy
46
The Conquest of Political Culture
69
Ethnic Revival and Racist Anxiety
103
The Swastika in the Heart of the Youth
131
Law and the Racial Order
163
The Quest for a Respectable Racism
190
Racial Warriors
221
Racial War at Home
253
Abbreviations
276
Notes
277
Acknowledgments
343
Illustration Credits
346
Index
350
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Claudia Koonz received her doctorate from Rutgers University and is currently a history professor at Duke University. She is also the President of the Eleventh Berkshire Conference on the History of Women in Rochester, New York in 1999. Koonz combined her many interests in history to write Mothers in Fatherland: Women, Family, and the Nazi Party, which examines female participation in the Third Reich. Koonz has won the 1993 Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award from the Center for Teaching, Learning and Writing at Duke University.

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