Why? Explaining The Holocaust (Review)

When I first noticed Dr. Peter Hayes’ new book displayed on the shelf, I thought, “How come yet another book about the Holocaust?”  Yet, the title caused me to pick it up and to bring it home, anyway.

At the beginning of Why? Explaining The Holocaust, the author answers the question “Why another book on the Holocaust?”  He writes, “I bring to bear expertise that is unusual among students of the Holocaust. I am by training an economic historian.” Hayes asks important questions: Why did Hitler focus on the Jews? Why Germany? Why did Nazism’s state-sponsored incarceration quickly devolve into state-sponsored mass murder? Why the divergence of survival rates? Why only limited humanitarian aid from other nations? What legacies and lessons have we learned?

The author introduces each particular question then explains the relevant background and compares competing theories. In the process, he confronts many of the common myths about the Holocaust. There is no singular response to the question, “why?”  I was left wondering if there is a neat answer to the question in the book’s title.  There are many answers to the question “how?”.

It turns out that there were many forces that came together to enable the genocide. One of the troubling factors is the apparent reluctance of other nations to intervene even though they knew about the ongoing genocide. The reader is given a concise summary of other nations’ reactions to the actuality of the Holocaust. These include the Catholic Church, non-Jews of Poland, and the United States.

In the process of explaning the data, the reader finds out that from 1942 onwards, Sweden did more than other nations to provide sanctuary for Jewish people. Even Fascist Spain provided some refuge for refugees.

Although I still don’t definitively know why the Holocaust happened, I now understand some of the reasons and can see it from a different perspective. I recommend Why? Explaining the Holocaust.

{ Why? Explaining The Holocaust by Peter Hayes, 432 pages published January 17, 2017 by W.W. Norton & Company; ISBN: 978-0-393-25436-5 }

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Dr. Peter Hayes. “Beware the beginnings.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Books, History, Politics, religion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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