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The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy September 1939-March 1942 [Hardcover]

Christopher R. Browning
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 May 2004
By the author of the acclaimed and ground-breaking Ordinary Men, The Origins of the Final Solution is the most detailed, careful, and comprehensive analysis to date of the descent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews into mass murder. Arguing that genocide was not a preconceived plan but rather a discovered possibility, Christopher Browning explains how the decision to murder the Jews en masse emerged in stages and by a process of elimination that gradually foreclosed plans for their expulsion from Europe. Only in the interval between late September and late October 1941 did the desire to 'remove' the Jews intersect with the discovery of acceptable means of killing them on a large scale and with the euphoria of expected victory in Russia, all of which followed on from two years of 'race war' and 'racial imperialism' in eastern Europe that prepared 'ordinary Germans' for this fateful task. Thoroughly researched and lucidly presented, this book is a groundbreaking work in the history of the Holocaust, one that will undoubtedly be studied for decades to come.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 644 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd; 1st Edition edition (6 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434012270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434012275
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 5.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 860,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Sensitive and nuanced, this is a fine piece of synthesis and analysis" (Sunday Times)

"Superb . . . [Browning] has created an eloquent, painstaking narrative of how the Final Solution evolved" (Joshua Rubenstein Wall Street Journal)

"This is a book of exceptional quality - The work of a historian at the peak of his powers, a magisterial study, a profound analysis of how the darkest chapter in human history could come about" (Ian Kershaw, bestselling author of Hitler)

"This magisterial work... An unrivaled account of how the Nazi leadership ended up with a policy of industrialized mass murder of Jews - Probably no one is better qualified for this task than Christopher Browning." (Mark Mazower, New York Times)

"Browning is persuasive because he marshals his evidence with unrivalled skill and writes with awesome clarity." (Literary Review) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A chilling historical book exploring the truth behind the most horrifying act of evil in modern history: the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler's 'final solution' to winning the Second World War and achieving world domination. This is the authoritative book on the darkest act of Hitler's Third Reich, and is a must-read for fans of Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Schindler's List and anyone with an interest in Nazi policies during WWII. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstandingly scholarly 19 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The scholarship is outstanding and deals with many neglected areas (at least for non-specialists), such as the Lublin reservation and the creation and function of the Nazi ghettos.

My one criticism is that the book could have done with a fuller and firmer conclusion. The book goes into great detail about the various anti-Jewish "initiatives" of different agencies in the polycratic Third Reich and the various decisions - some of them rubber-stamped after the event. The book is not a particularly easy read, and some readers could just end up with the impression that Germany somehow stumbled into the Final Solution, which is certainly not what the author is saying. (Rather, it arose out of a total and overwhelming obsession). Despite this, five stars.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 16 Dec 2013
By Sulzy
Format:Paperback
When my father passed away recently he left behind an interesting collection of historic, religious and cultural literature. One of the books I picked up, and found difficult to put down was "The Origins of the Final Solution - The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 - March 1942" by Christopher Browning and published by the University of Nebraska Press for Yad Vashem.
The book starts with describing the transition from religious based anti-Semitism, which had existed for thousands of years, to racial and political anti-Semitism. How hating and mistreating Germany's assimilated Jews, who were contributing commercially and culturally to their host country's society, could develop into denigration, forced emigration and expulsion. The book clearly details projects like the Madagascar Plan and transfer to Eastern Europe.
The conquest of Western Poland enabled Himmler to implement his policies of racial transfer, to expel Jews and Poles and bring in ethnic Germans from the Baltic States in the North to the Black Sea in the South, in agreement with the Soviets who had invaded Poland from the East.
The policy of ghettoization of the Jews was not predetermined prior to the invasion, it arose more out a desire to vacate Jewish properties in order to house the invading Germans from the Reich and repatriated ethnic Germans from elsewhere. The ghettos were to be temporary holding camps until other destinations could be prepared.
Then Germans regulated the inflow of resources to the ghettos in exchange for whatever tradable assets the Jews owned. The governors of the ghettos had two different approaches to their management. The first was to harness the Jewish productivity towards to the war effort while letting the weaker ones atrophy.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 14 July 2008
By Rabbit
Format:Paperback
The popular perception of Hitler is that "he made the trains run on time", and that the Holocaust was meticulously planned from the early days of Nazi power.

This book shows how nothing could be further from the truth. Browning's compelling theory is that Nazi Germany was a "polycracy", where vague directives and pronouncements from Hitler were enthusiastically developed and "ratcheted up" by subordinates and the bureaucracy.

Thus the institutionalised mass slaughter of the Jews developed from Nazi frustration at the failure of various deportation initiatives from 1939-41, and the new possibilities opened up by the Einsatzgruppen in the USSR from June 1941.

There is a massive amount of detail, but the book is extremely readable for the layperson. Highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, challenges many preconceptions 12 July 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book challenges many preconceived ideas and provides an extremely well argued and persuasive case that whilst the Nazis were consistent in their anti-semitism and desire to develop a final solution to the Jewish problem (in their view, clearly an appalling idea) the actual road to the mass exterminations of the Jews was a tortured path and at points both rather improvised and marked by indecision. The book clearly recognises the shift in attitudes which resulted from the war with the USSR and makes the case that it was the invasion of the USSR that really moved the Nazis from a position of cruel and inhumane treatment of the Jews where deaths resulting from brutality, malnutrition and other causes was prevalent but which was not one of systematic mass murder to one where it was deliberate policy to exterminate the Jews by means of efficient, bureaucratically managed genocide. The book acknowledges the crucial role of the euthanasia program against the handicapped and disabled in developing the tools of genocide and the part it played in moving attitudes closer to the final solution. Despite many modern works dismissing the pre-war and early war ideas of emigration as a solution to removing the Jews from Germany and later on from Europe as a sham this book does highlight that the Nazis were serious in finding a solution through emigration. The infamous Madagascar idea whilst obviously doomed to failure when viewed with the benefit of hindsight was taken seriously by some in the Nazi regime. Whilst very well written the story is complex and some of the twists and turns, the proliferation of names and organisations involved and just the scope and scale of the book mean it can be quite heavy reading at times however it repays the effort and is an outstanding work of history. Deeply disturbing but a book that deserves to be read widely, 5*.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Browning at his best
A great book for degree level study of the process leading up to the Holocaust and the decision making process as well as the various events. Browning at his best. Read more
Published 17 days ago by A. A. Archer
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed and probing book
As one would expect from an academic expert of Browning's ability and experience, this is a detailed and probing book that examines the roots of the Nazi genocide against the Jews. Read more
Published 1 month ago by HistoryBoy
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
Haven't read it all yet, but very thought provoking, gives a good analysis of the varying factors that influenced the "final solution"
excellent for those studying A... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Colina Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version - riddled with errors
A really interesting read, written by authors who are clearly knowledgeable and who have referenced their work superbly. Read more
Published 14 months ago by BenF
4.0 out of 5 stars The origins of the Final Solution
The origins of the Final Solution.... is a political study of the madness of the Nazi mind and the total lack of human love. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Gymbunny
5.0 out of 5 stars ahead of schedule
delivered ahead of schedule
many thanks - excellent scholarly work.
recommended to anyone who has a genuine interest in an unbiased record of the holocaust and its... Read more
Published 17 months ago by R. Lawrence
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
I ordered this as a present for my dad who's a teacher of Nazi Germany and he has greatly appreciated it. It arrived well protected and packaged.
Published 18 months ago by LRiordan
5.0 out of 5 stars the origins of the final solution
excellent historical background to anti-semitism starting at the beginning with first century christians and their desire to ingratiate themselves with their roman overlords.
Published on 20 Aug 2012 by Mr. Moshe Elias
5.0 out of 5 stars Good value
I bought this book for my daughter who is studying A Level History. She was really pleased with the book and it does seem to fit the course very well. Good background reading .
Published on 23 Nov 2011 by Mrs. J. L. Robson
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