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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anybody interested in the holocaust, 2 April 2012
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This magnificent study contains all the basic facts and the decision process about the holocaust. It's well-written, so you can read it relatively fast, and contains the most up-to-date sources. I suspect some parts have been updated in this third edition using the most recent findings, e.g. on the question of what kind of orders were given to the Einsatzgruppen in summer 1941 or Himmler's meeting with Hitler in December 1941. Even where it was obviously written half a century ago based on sources available at the time, he augmented the notes with references to newer findings and works that have since appeared.

Even though some other works shed some light on some aspects of the holocaust (most especially The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy) which are not dealt with here, reading Hilberg's work is essential before reading anything else. If you want to get in-depth knowledge by only reading one book on the holocaust, then this is the one to go for.

My only (slight) complaint is the chapter dealing with the history of antisemitism. I don't quite understand why most holocaust scholars need to deal with subjects (Middle Ages, Early Modern period, 19th century etc.) which are not the focus of their interest and where therefore their analysis is doomed to be shallower than in their main subject... But this is just a small part of the whole, the three volumes as a whole and almost throughout are worth reading and are highly recommended.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An in-depth study, thoroughly researched., 11 Oct 2006
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Paul Moody "V" (Lands End) - See all my reviews
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Historical revisionists of the Holocaust often attempt to use material and information from the period in a way that focuses upon the minutiae of an occurrence, or piece of evidence, in an attempt to disprove a much larger issue. This was spectacularly demonstrated in the libel case brought by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt. A case that Irving lost and which left him branded an anti-semite by the Judge.

An important contribution to the rebuttal of revisionism of this period is delivered by Raul Hilberg in his 3 volume study. He has spent a considerable number of years researching every aspect of the events from identification to the destruction of the Jews in Europe, by the National Socialist government of Germany between 1933 and 1945. The reader is led, painstakingly, through a level of detail not evidenced in any other work on the subject. In some cases, the footnotes alone take up the bulk of the text on the page. The minutiae of detail is astounding and compelling, to the extent that it is cross-referenced with documents produced from National Socialist official documents, in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Dr. Hilberg presents this wealth of detail to substantiate and document one of the most heinous crimes in history. There is much use of the word `genocide' in modern day society and clearly the act of killing large numbers of people from a particular cultural or identified group persists, outrageously, in our world to this day. The destruction of the Jews in Europe still stands alone as being an event which was documented, photographed, classified, identified as part of political dogma, an aim of going to war, legislated for: across all areas of law and the life of a society, economically structured, internationally co-ordinated and carried out specifically for the purposes of exterminating (`special treatment') a group of people based upon their religious identity and cultural norms. Other acts of genocide clearly bear aspects of the above; it is the Holocaust alone which carries all of these features.

These volumes are essential reference tools for any serious student and one can only marvel at Hilberg's tenacity, competence and scholarship.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding!, 25 Nov 2006
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RM (London Colney, HE UK) - See all my reviews
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I really cannot recommend this three volume scholarly masterpiece enough.
Overall, it has about 1400 pages, with about 400-500 pages per volume.

The first volume mainly deals with the Jews' fate pre-Holocaust, so in other words, from 1933-1939, although there is a small section towards the end which mentions the Einsatzgruppen, etc. The first volume primarily concerns itself with expropriation of Jewish property, liquidation of property, 'Aryanization' of property, the setting up of ghettos in major Polish cities, food distribution in the ghettos, etc.

The second volume explains the fate of the Jews in all areas of Europe, from Norway to Greece and all the countries in between. The sheer amount of detail is quite astonishing and the footnotes themselves sometimes take up more of the page than the actual text.

The final volume deals with the death camps in more detail, with detailed diagrams and lists of all major and relatively minor Nazis who controlled the camps, discussion about the post-war trials of Nazis, etc. There is even a massive list of nearly 400 Nazis and foreign collaborators and their post-war fates, which I found particularly illuminating. Not only the 'major' players but also far smaller 'cogs' in the wheel of death.

Just the other day, I was curious to find out the fate of two Nazis who were in Treblinka and sure enough, there they were, in the footnotes!
This brilliant achievement surpasses even Martin Gilbert's great "The Holocaust" and William Shirer's monumental "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"

Is it worth it? It sure is! Particularly when you see the years of research that Dr. Hilberg put into this book (or books, rather). The binding quality of the books is top-notch and the paper and ink used are high-quality, long-lasting, and non-smudge, unlike many mass produced Penguin paperbacks, for example.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The seminal work on the Holocaust., 31 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This work is an outstanding achievement. Brilliantly written in three volumes, the history of the destruction of European Jewry between 1933 and 1945 is clinically set out. If anybody wants to learn about 'how' and 'why' the holocaust happened, one only has to read this book.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive academic Holocaust book., 2 Nov 1997
By A Customer
This book is the benchmark upon which all that follows will be measured. Thouroughly researched and well written, this is a must read for anyone seeking the decisions, mechanics, and dynamics of the Holocaust. END
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and important work, 11 May 2010
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URI ZAKHEM (Kfar Saba Israel) - See all my reviews
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I read the abridged Holmes & Meier edition, and now decided I have to read the complete work. Hilberg's approach is not the usual one - it's the holocaust from the point of view of the perpetrators. What past experience they had, where they had to innovate because they seeked to achieve something that was not tried before.
The wry and matter of fact report is shocking.
This work was the life's work of Raul hilberg, having worked on it for sixty years, writing and refining it. One of the best sources if not the best source about the history of the Jewish holocaust.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, one of the great works of history, 14 July 2013
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This is a book often referenced by distinguished historians and scholars, often described using words such as magisterial, it is one of those books that sits in the background of informed debate and discussion of its subject and has left a true lasting impression in its field. Beautifully written, Hilberg was clearly one of those splendid historians who saw no reason why serious academic history should not be accessible and engaging and quite aside from its historical value the book is a fine work of literature. A long work, the three volumes may appear intimidating but are so well written and the analysis and recording of events so engrossing that it is in no way hard work or one of those books requiring real commitment to see through to the end. There is an abridged version, and whilst the abridged version is clearly much cheaper it really is worth investing in this the definitive three volume third edition, it is the sort of book that you will never regret purchasing and which will be used as a sense check when reading other works on the subject. The book is a history of German actions and attitudes and the Jews themselves are not the principal subject of the book. That may seem a very odd statement to make but Hilberg was very clear that his wish was to try to understand and explain the destruction of the European Jews and of necessity that means the book is a history of German actions. There are other books which tell the human story of Jewish suffering in the holocaust which should be read in conjunction with this work although clearly Hilberg does include much information on Jewish attitudes and action. Hilberg used a four stage model of definition, expropriation, concentration and elimination to explain the holocaust. Many histories go directly to the concentration or elimination stages yet by doing so fail to really demonstrate the incremental nature of the process, each part of which was a further increase in pressure building up to a point where the destruction of the Jews seemed reasonable and proportionate to those responsible. This is something which really is essential in trying to understand the holocaust, there was a steady escalation which created the conditions where mass extermination became possible. Definition may seem obvious but as Hilberg shows this was far from straightforward and was a principal reason why anti-semitic politicians of the 19th century failed to advance their ideas. Expropriation again is an element often neglected, as studies tend to cover this aspect of the holocaust in its later stages by which time most Jewish wealth had long been expropriated. The early stages of Aryanisation when the process was still technically voluntary reveal actions and attitudes that are profoundly saddening, where even educated and by no means Nazi Germans such as Schacht engaged in expropriations with vigour and displayed an almost casual anti-semitism. The book combines both breadth and depth and provides detailed analysis across the whole spectrum of the holocaust. If you only wanted one book on the holocaust then you could quite legitimately buy this book and not require any further works on the subject, with the best will in the world to those other great historians who have written on the subject such as Christopher Browning and Ian Kershaw. Nowadays the abundance of books about the holocaust make it very difficult, perhaps even impossible, for those of us not alive at the time to appreciate that when the first edition was published the holocaust was not a prominent subject in history or popular culture and that this was a ground breaking book. Really 5* are not enough for this book, it cannot be recommended highly enough.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We should consider ourselves lucky that this was ever published., 15 Dec 2013
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I. Fry (Wiltshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Incredibly interesting book even though this is the heavily edited shortened version. (This is the Student version rather than the 3 Volume version.)

It is now hard to believe that Raul Hilberg found it difficult to persuade publishers to take it on when originally submitted- thankfully someone took the risk!

Watch Raul Hilberg speak in the documentary film "Shoah" from 1985 by Claude Lanzmann.

Follow this up by reading Timothy Snyder's book "Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin."

Depite what we think we know through popular culture, the scale of what happened is simply overwhelming.
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Destruction of the European Jews
Destruction of the European Jews by Raul Hilberg (Paperback - Jan 1979)
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