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The Holocaust in History (Pelican) Paperback – 26 Oct 1989

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 Oct. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140228330
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140228335
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.6 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,116,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Oct. 1998
Format: Paperback
Marrus' work, The Holocaust i History was a very perspective view of the Holocaust. He sees the and presents the controversies and problems within the study of the Holocaust as a normal historical event. My only problem was that I found it difficult to understand and determine which parts of the piece are his opinions and which are not.
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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
a classic 26 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
First published in 1987, this book holds up to the test of time. Marrus is great at putting the Holocaust in perspective, laying a high amount of blame on the indifference of the Germans, Poles, Allies and the neutrals (the Vatican, Switzerland, etc.). He shows how anti-semitism was not confined just to Germany at the time - at the turn of the century it was strongest in France and Russia and was at its highest ever in the U.S. during World War II - and how most top Nazis did not join the movement because of their belief in anti-semitism. He also shows the context of the Holocaust in the larger picture of World War II: more than three times as many Russians were killed (20 million) as Jews.
Marrus is also very good at describing the Holocaust itself - how it reached a fervor in 1942 (when more than half of all Jews were killed) and how only half of the 6 million were killed in camps. He dismisses the view popularized by Hannah Arendt that the Jews acted like sheep led to the slaughter: he convincingly shows that the Jews were in total disbelief about the Holocaust and did resist when they actually knew what was going on. Finally, he discusses the actions of those few people who actually helped out the Jews, namely the Dutch, Italians, Danes, Bulgarians and Hungarians.
All in all, a very good book on a depressing topic.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An excellent tool 27 Nov. 2000
By "rajt" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is not a book about the history of the Holocaust as much as a work on the historiography of the Holocaust. It is excellent, covering the various theoretical debates that exist in the literature and giving excellent guides to further reading. One note of caution: the book was published in 1987, and is now beginning to show its age a little as regards the latest synthesis of scholarly knowledge on the subject e.g. there is no discussion of the recent Browning / Goldhagen debate nor the attempts at resititution by the Swiss banks etc. In these cases, readers should be directed to the most recent edition (4th) of Ian Kershaw's "Nazism: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation".
This is not a criticism, however. I have used Marrus in the classroom for the past five years and find it perhaps the best introduction available to the historical debates surrounding the Holocaust. Students will gain by reading it.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Holocaust in History 7 Mar. 2006
By Thomas H. Sharrad - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Writers wishing to engage with the Holocaust can be faced with a vast array of initially overwhelming difficulties. The gravitas with which the subject area must be approached and the struggle to "express the inexpressible" through the written word alone, is enough to deter many from ever embracing the subject. One of the most difficult tasks for an historian is perhaps presenting factual information and a coherent line of argument, whilst retaining a degree of reverence and sensitivity to Holocaust survivors and the families of the six million victims. Conversely, an excess of sentimentality and emotion, could lead to the loss of any objective method of study in its entirety. The challenges posed by this area of historical study, as one can see, are great and yet Marrus in his text The Holocaust in History, succeeds in producing an excellent overview of the events and current polemics surrounding the period, which maintains a high level of objectivity throughout, without ever drifting towards callousness.

Michael R. Marrus, is a Canadian historian, born 1941, who specialises in, and has dedicated much of his time to researching; Jewish history, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism in France.1 The Holocaust in History, published in 1987, is his best-selling text to date and according to the cover quotation, provides "the best review of this tragic period"2.In many ways however, Marrus' work is far more than a "review" of the period, but a work of detailed scholarship and synthesis which examines many aspects of the Holocaust in considerable detail. Most notable, perhaps, is the assessment of the Final Solution or Endlösung, which lucidly presents the key arguments of both the Intentionalist and Functionalist schools. With animated prose, so often lacking from historical and especially historiographical texts, Marrus engages the reader in the various debates between the two groups, leading to an accomplished four-way discourse, between writer, reader, Functionalist and Intentionalist.

The Holocuast in History is, however, primarily an historiographical not an historical work. Although it provides sufficient background information on the events of, and build-up to, the Holocaust, its foremost aim is to establish the various scholarly polemics, which have emerged through what Marrus describes as "serious historical investigation" and engage the reader in these pertinent debates.3 Such topics examined, are the emergence of anti-Semitism both within the Nazi party and on a European scale, bystanders and collaborationist governments, the Jewish resistance, public opinion and state of knowledge, and finally, the victims of the Holocaust. Despite its relative accessibility as an historiographical text, some knowledge of the methods of genocide employed by the Nazis and knowledge of the rise of the Nazi party in the nineteen twenties make the book far more accessible to the "lay-reader".

This is one area where Marrus' text excels, as the book seldom drifts from its central lines of argument. It is often the tendency of erudite historians to loose track of important polemic threads, feeling that they must lengthily discuss specific terminology and in doing so; loose the coherence of their arguments and often, in turn, the readers attention. Neither does the text concern itself with defining the term Holocaust, Marrus acknowledges that this is "a serious body"4 of literature in itself but rightly does not feel the necessity to discuss it within the confines of his text.

One of the key uses of The Holocaust in History as an historiographical text is to use the arguments revealed within it and apply these to the wealth of Holocaust related material now available, noting whether or not Marrus' arguments are supported. The text also clarifies many of the Holocaust "myths" which have presented themselves, dispelling rumours for example that there was inherent anti-Semitism in Germany at the turn of the century, on the contrary in fact, Marrus informs us that " one might easily settle upon France" for the most dangerous country of inhabitancy for a Jew. 5 The sheer volume of Holocaust related literature available and the varying states of knowledge on the events of the Holocaust in the past, both in terms of scale and accuracy can lead to many studies, being ill informed, especially those undertaken by inexperienced students, who do not always question the credibility of their source material. Therefore Marrus' text is extremely useful for students writing on the Holocaust, as it allows a greater awareness of the key questions and debates, which are applied to the period.

When we are informed by scientists that there are more grains of sand on a beach than stars in the sky, we "lock up" mentally, unable to comprehend what we have heard. The same could also be applied to the Holocaust. Statistics report that there were six million Jewish victims between 1933 and 1945. To us, this becomes another meaningless number, something our psyche is unable to contemplate, let alone understand. Perhaps exactly the same could be said of our treatment of the Holocaust as a whole, because it is so morally, ethically and proportionally incomprehensible, we refuse to admit that it exists and that it can be studied in the same way that other periods in history are. Until we translate the universal to the particular, it eludes us, not just academically, but chronologically as well, occupying a position removed from time rather than its place in the middle of century we have only recently left. There are many arguments in favour of the academic study of the period, in the hope that once it is universally recognised and accepted, it could prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again. Marrus is a clear advocate of scholarly study and demystification of the Holocaust. He insists that it must "receive universal recognition" and become part of our "general consciousness".6 His authoritative text brings us closer to understanding why the Holocaust is an area of such dynamic and emotive debate, and why the years between 1933 and 1945 must never be forgotten.

1. Http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_R._Marrus (24/2/06)

2. Laqueur, Walter, Quoted on cover of The Holocaust in History, M. R. Marrus

3. Marrus, Michael R. The Holocaust in History, (Penguin 1987) 7 / Introduction

4. Marrus, Michael R. The Holocaust in History, (Penguin 1987) xiv / Preface

5. Marrus, Michael R. The Holocaust in History, (Penguin 1987) 9 / Holocaust in

Perspective

6. Marrus, Michael R. The Holocaust in History, (Penguin 1987) xiv / Preface

Document Copyright T.H.Sharrad 2006.
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I am a high school student reviewing this book 11 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Marrus' work, The Holocaust i History was a very perspective view of the Holocaust. He sees the and presents the controversies and problems within the study of the Holocaust as a normal historical event. My only problem was that I found it difficult to understand and determine which parts of the piece are his opinions and which are not.
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