Why Did the Heavens Not Darken

Arno J. Mayer, Author Pantheon Books $27.95 (492p) ISBN 978-0-394-57154-6
This sure-to-be-controversial reassessment of Nazism by a Princeton professor of history is certain to provoke, disturb, even outrage. Mayer, himself of European Jewish roots, maintains that ``anti-Semitism did not play a decisive or even significant role in the growth of the Nazi movement and electorate.'' German ultra-nationalism, Social Darwinism and anti-bolshevism were more pivotal elements in the Nazi creed, he asserts. He further claims that the Nazi genocide of six million Jews was not inevitable, and that the Jews became scapegoats marked for annihilation only after Hitler's crusade against the Soviet Union ran aground. With a quick victory over the Red Army, he surmises, the Nazis probably would have deported the Jews en masse to the far interior of Russia. Mayer feels that the Holocaust has become the focus of a sectarian ``cult of remembrance''; his stated aim is to restore that horrific tragedy to a historical context. As a corrective to the work of other historians, his massive, detailed study is sometimes challenging, but he overstates his arguments and uses evidence selectively. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Paperback - 524 pages - 978-1-84467-777-1
Paperback - 978-0-679-72899-3
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