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Journal Article

Evocation, Analysis, and the "Crisis of Liberalism"

Christopher R. Browning
History and Theory
Vol. 48, No. 3 (Oct., 2009), pp. 238-247
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25621418
Page Count: 10
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Evocation, Analysis, and the "Crisis of Liberalism"
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Abstract

In The Years of Extermination, the second volume of Nazi Germany and the Jews, Saul Friedländer attempts to write an "integrated" history of the Holocaust that captures the "convergence" of German decisions and policies, the reaction of the surrounding world, and the perceptions and experiences of the Jews. Although several historiographical issues are studied in detail (the role of Hitler, the evolution of Nazi anti-Jewish policy, and the role of the Christian churches), the most innovative aspect of the book is its extensive use of excerpts from over forty diaries of Jewish victims, which are interspersed among the statements of Nazi leaders and officials, Wehrmacht soldiers, churchmen, and various collaborators and bystanders in order to juxtapose "entirely different levels of reality." What ultimately holds the book together, despite its intentionally disrupted narrative and Friedländer's disclaimer that the history of the Holocaust can be encompassed within any "single conceptual framework," is the overarching theme of the "crisis of liberalism."

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