Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 14:31:09 EST
From: H-German Ed. Norm Goda 
To: Multiple recipients of list H-GERMAN 
Subject: Goldhagen, Austrian Perpetrators, Antisemitism



Submitted by:     Guenter Bischof 

Excerpts from "Die normalen Deutschen als Taeter" by Guenter Bischof,
University of New Orleans, _Die Furche_ 18, 2 May 1996, p.2


Goldhagens Kritker haben zwar wiederholt darauf verwiesen, dass er in
seiner Studie den Vergleich mit dem ost- und westeuropaeischen
Antisemitismus verschmaeht, um seine monokausale deutsche Sonderwegs- und
Kollektivschuldthesen radikal durchzuziehen.  Aus der oesterreichischen
Perspektive ist es aber Goldhagens groesstes Versagen, den Beitrag des
oesterreichischen Antisemitismus zum Holocaust zu verschweigen.

Bruce Pauleys grundlegendes und differenzierendes Werk zur Geschichte des
oesterreichischen Antisemitismus "From Prejudice to Persecution" (1992)
ist nicht einmal in einer Fussnote erwaehnt.  Pauley, sowie Gerhard Botz
und Erika Weinzierl vor ihm, und die deutschen Historiker Goetz Aly und
Susanne Heim nach ihm, stellen immer wieder fest, wie wichtig das "Wiener
Modell" fuer die Radikalisierung des Antisemitismus der Nazis nach dem
Anschluss war, vom "Braunauer" mal ganz abgesehen.

Das Modell der Wiener "Arisierungen" brachte den deutschen Nazis die
effiziente "Entjudung der Wirtschaft" bei.  Adolf Eichmanns radikales
Management der Wiener Zwangsauswanderung, Umsiedlung, und "Evakuierung"
deutete eine Generalloesung fuer die Nazi-Deportationspolitik an, die im
Holocaust mit so vernichtender Konsequenz durchgefuehrt wurde, und zwar
von Eichmann und seinem Stab von ausgewiesenen oesterreichischen
"Fachleuten" selber.  Das hat der Wiener Historiker Hans Safrian in seinem
Buch "Die Eichmann-Maenner" (1993) nachgewiesen, und einen feinfuehligen
"strukturellen" Beitrag zur Holocaust-Buerokratie geliefert.  Goldhagen
zitiert Safrian nur zweimal ganz kurz, da er offensichtlich nicht in sein
Erklaerungsmodell des deutschen Exterminismus passt.

Die neuere Literatur zur oesterreichischen Taetergeschichte im
zweiten Weltkrieg betont, dass die Oesterreicher ueberproportionell am
Holocaust  beteiligt waren. Der oesterreichische Anteil an der
Bevoelkerung des deutschen Reiches war acht Prozent, an der SS 14
Prozent und am Personal der Vernichtungslager im Osten 40 Prozent!
Der Nestor der Holocaust-Forschung Raul Hilberg ist nicht der erste,
der in seinem Buch "Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders" (1992)
festhaelt, wie bedeutend der Beitrag der oesterreichischen Taeter
in der Nazi-Fuehrungselite -- Globocnic, Seyss-Inquart, Waechter,
Kaltenbrunner -- am Holocaust war. Der amerikanische Historiker
Jonathan Petropoulos hat den Beitrag unzaehliger Oesterreicher "im
zweiten Glied" (second rank) des Nazi-Vernichtungsapparates betont.
All dies wird von Goldhagen uebergangen, um das einzigartige
"nationale Projekt" der Judenvernichtung allein den Deutschen in
die Schuhe schieben zu koennen.  Oder sind fuer ihn Oesterreicher
einfach Deutsche?

Nach all dem hier Gesagten scheint es fuer ihn das Problem eines
oesterreichischen Beitrages zum Holocaust nicht zu geben, was in
Oesterreich von den Oesterreichpatrioten, die den Mythos von
Oesterreich als erstem Opfer Hitlers hochhalten...bestimmt
wohlwollend zur Kenntnis genommen wird.  Koennte Goldhagen zum
Kronzeugen der Opfertheoretiker werden, die den Anteil der von
Oesterreichern begangenen Kriegsverbrechen (samt Holocaust)
verniedlichen bzw. "externalisieren" und alle Schuld den
deutschen Boesewichtern in die Schuhe schieben? [...]



Submitted by:  Richard S. Levy

I reported recently on Daniel Goldhagen's speaking engagement in
a Chicago suburb (May 12).  What follows is what I thought
inappropriate to say in that venue but would nonetheless like to
get off my chest now.  It's a long message.  Be forewarned!

I confine my remarks to Part I of _Hitler's Willing Executioners_
where Goldhagen spells out his notion of a brand of antisemitism
peculiar to Germany and makes it instrumental in the carrying out
of the Final Solution.  I do this for two reasons.  First, I have
worked in the nineteenth-century source material.  Second, I
believe his faulty understanding of German antisemitism before
Hitler is crucial to his argument and that the book's many
critics have not given enough attention to this aspect of it.

The argument is presented annoyingly.  Assertions--never
adequately demonstrated, some of them clearly undemonstrable--
become, in the space of a few pages, axioms upon which
unwarranted conclusions can be drawn.  One example of such a

"There cannot be any doubt that conservatives and Volkish
nationalists in Germany, who formed the vast majority of the
population, were, from the beginning of the nineteenth century
onward, thoroughly antisemitic.  The evidence for this is
overwhelming, as the literature of the period persuasively
demonstrates." (p. 56)

A few pages later:  "That Germans were fundamentally antisemitic
is...less astonishing than was the cultural and political
centrality of Jews in their minds and emotions.  Perhaps the most
striking feature of the discussion of the Jews' place in Germany
was the obsessive attention paid to the subject, the avalanche of
words devoted to it, the passion expended on it." (p. 63)

Finally:  "And, as discussed above, these accusations were hurled
with enormous frequency and obsessiveness throughout German
society, and, so widespread were they that they were increasingly
held to be true even by those in Germany who had once been the
Jews' allies" [whom, incidentally, he scarcely discusses except
to "prove" that they, too, were antisemites]. (p. 68)

The truth of every one of these contentions is highly debatable.
Goldhagen regularly assumes what he ought to be proving.  When,
if ever, did conservatives and Volkish nationalists compose the
vast majority in Germany?  I would not know how to go about
proving such a claim (and therefore wouldn't make it).  Granted,
there were many more publications dealing with the Jewish
question than one would expect, considering how small and
unimportant a part of the population was Jewish in
German-speaking Europe.  Who wrote them?  Who read them?  Did
workers and peasants--I would think the clear majority of the
population--read Wilhelm Marr or Eugen Duehring?  And on what
basis can such writing be said to constitute "an avalanche of
words" and what constitutes "enormous frequency and
obsessiveness?"  Having convinced himself with repetition,
Goldhagen claims that in the last quarter century, the
_Judenfrage_ was written about more passionately than any other
question. (p. 64)  More passionately than the _Kulturkampf_, the
"red menace," _Weltpolitik_, navalism?  How does one measure

I remain unconvinced.  Jews may have been of more interest than
is easily explainable to certain sorts of Germans at certain
periods of time (the 1840s, the 1880s and 1890s).  But one can
make a convincing case that they were of very little interest to
most Germans most of the time.  Putting them at the center of
German history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is a
highly unproductive strategy.  I can see no justification for
doing so.

Goldhagen's use of data is also problematical.  He rests huge
generalizations on an extraordinarily spindly factual base, and
even this is occasionally quite skewed to fit his special
purposes.  His treatment of antisemitism in the Kaiserreich owes
much to the unpublished 1963 Heidelberg dissertation by Klemens
Felden.   Felden's already vague "content analysis" of 51
prominent antisemitic writers and publications, 1861-1895, is
subjected to Goldhagen's own analysis.  He finds that twenty-
eight of the fifty-one individuals proposed solutions to the
Jewish question.  Of these, he says, nineteen called for the
_physical extermination of the Jews_.  Talk of murdering the Jews
was, despite Goldhagen's inferences, rare in the Kaiserreich (far
more common in France and Austria).  It ought not be ignored or
trivialized because it may well have revealed the real conscious
and unconscious desires of antisemites.  But this is an example
of Goldhagen's exaggeration, his drawing important conclusions
from dubious facts.  I know of no case where genocide was
proposed as a systematic solution to the Jewish question before
1914.  Rare threats of physical violence came in the form of
"jokes" or fantasies or poorly veiled wishes, usually appeared as
parenthetical remarks, and in almost every case were subject to
denial, disavowal, and wide public disapproval.  Goldhagen cites
[with erroneous attribution] only one such parenthetical remark
in his main text.  He also alludes, this time in the footnotes,
where he often makes his most insupportable claims, to mad Count
Pueckler, a certifiably insane aristocrat who performed murderous
charades with imaginary Jews as his victims.  Perhaps, this was a
portent of the Holocaust, as Goldhagen, citing his father,
wants to believe.  But what does it tell us of the obsessive,
eliminationist, and murderous antisemitism that Goldhagen sees
already and everywhere in place well before Hitler arrived to
turn it loose?  Why doesn't he find it worth mentioning that
Pueckler was tried, convicted of fomenting hatred (I believe),
and rejected as an embarrassment to the serious business of
antisemitism by almost every antisemitic politician and
publicist?  Instead, the lunatic is taken as bespeaking the true
but as yet unrealizable desires on the part of "many Germans" to
murder Jews.  This is arbitrary and unfounded.

Where the data does not exist or will not bear much weight of
generalization, Goldhagen blithely reads minds, emotions, and
"cognitive maps."  For example, Felden mentions that of his
fifty-one subjects, nearly half of them (twenty-three) presented
no programmatic solutions to the Jewish problem at all.
Goldhagen refuses to register this fact as evidence arguing
against pervasive, obsessive, eliminationist antisemitism.  No,
he cites pragmatism, ethical inhibition, limited imagination in
the pre-Holocaust era as reasons for the lack of programmatic
solutions, but then concludes that many wanted what they "dared
not utter."  Even the absence of evidence becomes part of the

My biggest difficulty with _Hitler's Willing Executioners_ is not
its polemical excesses, willful lack of balance, many errors of
fact, or trashing of illustrious scholars.  All these are
aggravating lapses, product of an annoying personal style with
some sloppy research thrown in.  [I'm sure he wouldn't like me
that much either.]  I find most problematical Goldhagen's
floating, infinitely malleable definition of antisemitism.

Early in the book, he puts forward a slightly modified version of
the Ackermann/Jahoda clinical definition of antisemitism:
"...negative beliefs and emotions about Jews qua Jews."  (p. 34)
Goldhagen laments that the phenomenon has "typically been treated
in an undifferentiated manner" and then proceeds to make numerous
busy distinctions.  He gives the reader three dimensions, two
continuums; he assures us that in any 20-50 year period
antisemitism can be latent or overt, but that it never
disappears--"neither waxing nor waning."  Even when there is no
physical evidence of antisemitism, it's still there, only waiting
for the proper social and political conditions to be unleashed.
(p. 39)  He cautions that "any analytical scheme [of
antisemitism] must keep the cognitive and action dimensions
distinct" (p. 485, n. 21)--a position I have been arguing for
many years.  This crucial distinction and the many others he
enjoins us to make he himself soon abandons.

Goldhagen commits the very crime he warns against.  He uses
"antisemitism" in its broadest, most undifferentiated
construction, embracing emotions and actions without
distinguishing between them, as an indictment of Germans (up to
but not after 1945; last Sunday he said they "had cured
themselves").  Only if German antisemitism is permanent, all-
pervasive in its latent or manifest forms, and anything from a
matter of snobbery to genocidal impulses, can one float the sort
of charges upon which the book rests.  For one by no means
critical but nonetheless illustrative example, Goldhagen tells us
that the Reichstag of 1893 already had an antisemitic majority.
If antisemitism is as amorphous and omnipresent a phenomenon as
he contends, then this, every previous, and every subsequent
Reichstag might well be called antisemitic.  But by any less
universalist definition of antisemitism, there were in the
Reichstag of 1893 16 deputies from parties that called themselves
antisemitic and perhaps a dozen more fellow-travelers who
campaigned antisemitically but then joined with the
Conservatives; they received perhaps 400,000 votes according to
the estimate of Theodor Fritsch, a noted antisemite.  This comes
to about 6% of the seats in the Reichstag and about 5% of the

Operating on such a flexible definition, there is little that
Goldhagen cannot "prove" about the depth, breadth, and growing
dangerousness of German antisemitism.  His "conservatively"
estimated 100,000 executioners were but stand-ins for millions
more of Germans.  But such a definition is also self-defeating.
Would not nearly everyone in Europe or where the offspring of
Europeans were to be found qualify as an antisemite, if
antisemitism were simply "negative beliefs and emotions about
Jews qua Jews"?  Would not, in all honesty, most Jews be covered
by this blanket definition?  Would French, Romanian, or Hungarian
antisemitism look very different from the German variety?

It is absolutely essential for Goldhagen to blur the distinction
between the willingness to act against Jews and the harboring of
negative attitudes about them.  One can concede that Germans who
liked, respected, and valued Jews were few in number well before
the Third Reich sanctioned their persecution.  But labeling them
antisemites, that is, people who wanted to act against what they
imagined to be enormously dangerous Jewish power and therefore
thought it was right and good to murder Jews is unwarranted.
Goldhagen must make prejudiced Germans into executioners or
would-be executioners in very large numbers.  This, too, is
self-defeating, if the objective is to understand the Holocaust.

By insisting on the universality of eliminationist antisemitism
Goldhagen can show that the development to the Final Solution is
an ineluctably logical one instead of one of many possibilities.
Denying that the variations among antisemites and their solutions
(to say nothing of the ubiquity of antisemitism among the
Germans) counts for anything, means there is no alternative
possibility that needs to be considered.  The Final Solution
takes on the aura of a fatality, no longer the product of human
choices.  It becomes a mystery of monstrous Germanic evil--
unavoidable, predictable from an early date, and basically

It is interesting, I think, that the Nazis were far less
convinced about the depth of German antisemitism than Goldhagen.
They, with Hitler in the forefront of the complainers, never
ceased whining about the lack of seriousness in ordinary Germans
when it came to the Jewish question.  They recognized what
Goldhagen does not.  Prejudice was not enough to "solve" the
Jewish question.  It did not translate into the sort of
consistent, ideologically-based action that was required for the
genocide of the Jews.  Doubtless the indifference of the great
majority of Germans to the fate of Jews was useful in the Final
Solution, and the Nazi leadership correctly reckoned on little
popular opposition to their escalating oppression.  This is an
enormous burden of guilt to bear.  I don't see why Goldhagen
wishes to add to it.