Critical Book Review | Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: the Jewish Catastrophe by Raul Hillberg

Author’s writing style and book organization

In the book Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945, the holocaust historian Raul Hilberg’s writing style is rather interesting to read and analyze. The author’s nonfiction is similar to investigative reporting. Narrative nonfiction is rather interesting for readers because it provides much important information on the key historical issue discussed in the book. Raul Hilberg’s historiography is represented as a unique art form. The author acts not only as a writer and historian, but also as a thinker and Holocaust scholar.

Actually, the author’s writing style is easy to understand due to simple vocabulary and sentence structure. In addition, the author’s depth analysis of the historical events, his profound knowledge, various critical contexts along with his engaging writing style make the reading process very interesting, impressive and pleasant.

The book has a simple structure. The book consists of a preface, 3 parts, which include 17 chapters, and an index. The book is done in a straight topical structure (e.g. Part I: Perpetrators; Part II: Victims; Part III: Bystanders). In fact, the author represents several categories of perpetrators, victims and bystanders. Thus, Perpetrators include Adolf Hitler; the Establishment; Old Functionaries; Newcomers; Zealots, Vulgarians, and Bearers of Burdens; Physicians and Lawyers; Non-German Governments and Non-German Volunteers. Victims include the Jewish Leaders; the Refugees; Men and Women; Children; Christian Jews;  the Survivors; the Unadjusted; the Advantaged, the Strugglers and the Dispossessed. Bystanders include Nations in Adolf Hitler’s Europe; Helpers, Gainers and Onlookers; Messengers; the Jewish Rescuers; the Allies; Neutral Countries; the Churches. The way this book was generally structured help the readers to stay focused on the key information provided by the author.

Author’s point of view

The main theme of the book Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945 is one of the greatest catastrophes of humanity – the Holocaust. The author of the book Raul Hilberg is an outstanding holocaust scholar and historian, who is focused on the analysis of the problem of the Holocaust. Raul Hilberg explores the basic causes of the Holocaust and represents shocking consequences of this event.  In general, the theme discussed in the book Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945 is of great importance for our younger generation. The theme of the book helps to better understand the nature of inhuman and immoral actions of Hitler’s Nazis. In addition, the main theme discussed in the book helps to find answers to a variety of questions about the WWII. In general, the author of the book reveals the theme of the Holocaust in order to prove readers that it was not only the catastrophe of all Jewish people, but also it was one of the greatest catastrophes of humanity.

The author supported the book’s main theme in a proper way. Raul Hilberg, as a historian and scholar, uses a variety of historical sources, statistical data, reliable documentation, political materials, and archival data on Holocaust.

Outside of the main theme of the book, the author provides some interesting opinions about the people, places and events of the book’s subject matter. For example, he describes the machinery of destruction the Nazi invented to kill Jews, using the opinion of Robert Lifton, who suggests that one of the methods was the so-called “musicalized killing.” 1 The most provocative opinion was the opinion about the bystanders. Raul Hilberg criticizes the inactivity of those countries, which ignored the Nazi regime and the Holocaust tragedy, remaining passive when the number of killings had been increased. In this way, the author changes the established stereotypes regarding the Allies, including the USA and the UK, which did not prevent the tragedy of Jewish people. The author supported these opinions properly.

Summary of the book

The author depicts the main actors of the historical event of the Holocaust, proving a comprehensive analysis of three categories of people involved in the Holocaust: perpetrators, victims and bystanders. He states that the main initiator of the Holocaust was Nazi Germany because its national policy was focused on national and racial discrimination, particularly on the elimination of Jews. It the book, the author explores the fates of Jew people who were killed by Hitler’s Nazis, as well as the fates of Jewish refugees who managed to flee Germany. Hilberg states that among the leaders of the Jewish councils, who were responsible for Nazi control and victims’ petitions, there were “crisis managers, dictators and traditional superintendents.” 2 In addition, the author provides the profiles of Nazi perpetrators, including zealots, perfectionists and sadistic vulgarians. The author uses various historical sources to evaluate the actions of the Western Allies in the face of the tragedy of Holocaust, the church leaders, including Pope Pius XII, as well as the activity of the Austrians, Romanians, Dutch, Croats, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others, most of whom abetted the Nazis. The author of the book criticizes the Nazi regime and blames the Nazi leaders, who killed millions of innocent people, as well as the so-called silent executers, who were involved in committing crimes against humanity.

 

Notes

  1. Paul Hilberg. Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders the Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945. (NY: Harper Collins, 1992), 65.
  2. , 78.

 

Bibliography

Hilberg, Raul. Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders the Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945. NY: Harper Collins, 1992

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[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]