Monday, April 28, 2008

Five best books for Holocaust Remembrance Day

At the Wall Street Journal, Robert Rozett named five "essential books to keep in mind for Holocaust Remembrance Day on May 2."

One title on his list:
Ordinary Men
by Christopher R. Browning
HarperCollins, 1992

In "Ordinary Men," Christopher R. Browning tells the story of the German Reserve Police Battalion 101 and in the process addresses fundamental questions about the motivations of the Holocaust's perpetrators. How did "middle-aged family men of working- and lower-middle-class background from the city of Hamburg" become calloused murderers who killed 38,000 Jews and deported 45,000 more to Nazi death camps? Anti-Semitism certainly was a central cause, Browning says: others included the urge for conformity, the desire for advancement and the fear of appearing weak. One may argue with some of Browning's conclusions, in part because he relies on postwar statements by the criminals themselves, but this book will make any reader stop to ponder the ordinary man's capacity for evil.
Read about the book that topped Rozett's list.

Robert Rozett is the director of the Yad Vashem Library in Jerusalem and author of Approaching the Holocaust: Texts and Contexts.

--Marshal Zeringue