cover image Nazi Anti-Semitism: From Prejudice to the Holocaust

Nazi Anti-Semitism: From Prejudice to the Holocaust

Philippe Burrin, , trans. from the French by Janet Lloyd. . New Press, $21.95 (154pp) ISBN 978-1-56584-969-3

Given its brevity, this study, which originated as a series of lectures given at Paris's Collège de France, is better at asking probing questions about the Nazi period than at answering them. Still, the author's answers are provocative. Burrin (Hitler and the Jews ), a Swiss professor of history, goes back to the basics as he uses the latest scholarship to explore the core of Nazi ideology and why the German people accepted it. He's persuasive in tracing the multiple origins of Nazi anti-Semitism, noting that it combined traditional beliefs, Christian anti-Semitism and modern theories of race. Burrin locates anti-Semitism at the heart of Nazi ideology, rather than as an aspect of it. As to why Germans followed Hitler, Burrin effectively debunks Daniel Goldhagen's argument for longstanding German eliminationist anti-Semitism. Burrin's own hypothesis is that Judeophobia, as he calls it, became more than a prejudice; it was "an interpretive grid by which to make sense of what was happening " and thus became part of the national identity. Burrin's generally straightforward approach to these difficult questions will attract those who want a brief account of the latest scholarship on the origins of the Nazi policies toward the Jews. (Nov.)