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review 2018-05-07 16:39
The horror of indifference
Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil - Hannah Arendt

When I was in graduate school I read many books that shaped my understanding of historical events, but few did so as profoundly as Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men. By using a battalion of reservists as a case study, Browning showed the process by which men not motivated by ideology or hatred or careerism became participants, even enthusiastic ones, in the execution and deportation of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust.

Though Browning referenced the experiments undertaken by Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo to explain the psychology of their participation, it's also easy to see the germ of his argument in Hannah Arendt's famous book. For while he was a member of the Nazi Party and a member of its security apparatus, Arendt argues that Adolf Eichmann was less a committed anti-Semite than someone who craved the structure of being part of a larger organization that would give him purpose. Many people have taken this as something of an exoneration of what Eichmann did in his role organizing the deportation of Jewish people, yet this is a misreading of Arendt's analysis, as she makes it clear that Eichmann took pride in his accomplishments and she dismantles his efforts to hide behind the governmental hierarchy. What makes her book so powerful is the sense she conveys of Eichmann, who justified to himself the facilitation of the murder of millions as part of a greater enterprise of which he was proud to serve. Is it this sense of mission devoid of ideology which is at the heart of her assertion of Eichmann's banality.

In the decades since Arendt's book has been published some writers have criticized her for minimizing Eichmann's ideological devotion to Nazism. And while works such as Bettina Stangneth's Eichmann Before Jerusalem do offer important qualifications of Arendt's interpretation of her subject, her book remains essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the motivations of the men and women who carried out the murder of millions of people. For while racism was an undoubted motivation for some, for many others it was a matter of duty, an enjoyment of the power held, or simply a sense of going along with the group. In many ways that was far more horrifying than the anti-Semitism that sparked the Holocaust in the first place: the people who don't just do nothing in the face of evil, but who enable it with their indifferent participation.

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review 2018-02-27 02:10
Will You Help Someone in Need?
Number the Stars - Lois Lowry

In Lois Lowry's book, Number the Stars, the main character helps protect her best friend by pretending she a part of the family. The setting of the book is during World War II and the Holocaust. I would use the book ,in conjunction with The Diary of Anne Frank, to provide insight into the life of hiding and the fight to live. Teachers could have their students create culture quilts to show the many aspects of their cultures. A piece of paper is folding into sixths and the students will draw or write the aspects of their culture. This activity shows students that everyone has one thing in common. 

 

Reading Level: Lexile 670L

 

Grades: 3-6th 

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review 2018-02-17 04:00
Anne Frank
Anne Frank: A Hidden Life - Mirjam Pressler

AR: 8.5

Grade Level: 6th-8th

Summary: Anne Frank: A Hidden Life is all about what Anne Frank and her family endured through the Holocaust. Anne Frank: A Hidden Life gives extreme detail, and allows the reader to experience the Holocaust through Anne's perspctive. 

Idea: This is a great way to intertwine reading into social studies because it covers a momumental part of our history.  I would most definitely use this book for upper grades, most likely 6th. I feel like the reading level and content is most appropiate here. For my lower level students, I can always fit this book into where I would meet their needs. This way, they would not miss out on a first hand account of a young girl, who experienced every bit of the Holocaust. 

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review 2018-01-04 04:38
Maus 1: My Father Bleeds History
Maus I : A Survivor's Tale : My Father Bleeds History - Art Spiegelman

 

So, I started reading this book in June, ended up getting caught up in other things, including other readings, and I finally just finished it. I actually had to start again from the beginning, but it was worth it.

 

This graphic novel is written by Art Spiegelman and based on his father's experiences before and during World War II. The book skips back and forth in time between the adult author speaking to his father and the years around World War II. In the illustrations, the Jewish people are represented by mice, the Germans cats, and the Polish people by pigs. This graphic novel is at times touching, at times horrifying, and at times just sad. A definite must-read for anyone interested in this time period.

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review 2017-12-26 15:56
The enabling image
The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich - Ian Kershaw

This is a book that, having read Ian Kershaw's massive two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler (which he wrote afterward), I didn't think I needed to read. Now I realize how wrong I was; this is one of the absolute must-reads for anyone seeking to understand how the Third Reich functioned.

 

Kershaw's focus in this book is on Hitler's popularity and its role in legitimizing the regime. Using Max Weber's formulation of "charismatic authority," he examines the rise of the "leadership cult" around Hitler, and how it became an important instrument in Nazi rule. This was hardly an original invention of Hitler's, but drew upon leadership cults in German culture from imperial times. Conservative Germans disaffected from the Weimar Republic longed for a strong man to restore Germanys their imperial greatness, while the miseries of the Great Depression led many to seek someone who could deliver Germany from its travails. Hitler's public persona was crafted to satisfy this demand, and was the key ingredient in the Nazis's rise to power.

 

Hitler maintained this aura as chancellor through careful image management. An important aspect of this was the awareness that its maintenance required association with positive developments. Because of this his appearances were rationed, tied to announcements of economic progress and foreign policy triumphs. By contrast the party itself soon came into popular disrepute through its conspicuous displays of petty corruption. Not only did Hitler rise above this, but his popularity ensured his indispensability to the party -- in short, they needed him in order to maintain their authority.

 

For all of Hitler's (and Joseph Goebbels's) success in maintaining his popularity, Kershaw sees it as contingent upon circumstances. The gap between economic promises and results was ignored as Hitler scored foreign policy triumphs, while general uneasiness about the outbreak of the war in 1939 was soon dispelled by the military triumphs in Western Europe. Yet Kershaw portrays Hitler as falling victim to the classic flaw of believing his own press, with the failure to bring about a popularly-anticipated end to the war, coupled with the surprise attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, as signaling the beginning of the decline of his stature. With the German people increasingly exposed to the failings and brutality of the Nazi regime, Hitler's popularity plummeted to the point when, by the end of the war, they regarded themselves as much as victims of it as were the rest of Europe.

 

Kershaw's book is a fascinating study of the role the Hitler image played in Nazi Germany. His analysis helps to explain much about his role for the German people during those years, and how Germans rationalized the terrible developments of those years. If there is a flaw, it's that Kershaw doesn't tie his findings into broader discussions of leadership beyond Weber; his argument about how Germans saw Hitler as unaware of Nazi corruption, for example, was squarely in a tradition of "the courtiers, not the king" rationalizations which have a long tradition in Western history. Nevertheless, this is a enormously important study of the Nazi regime, one that should be interested in this history of modern Germany or the Second World War.

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