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How German Was the Holocaust?

An exchange.

I hope you will allow me to respond to the vitriolic attack on my book Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany, recently reviewed by Professor Elshtain in your journal [March/April].

This alleged ethicist violates the fundamental moral responsibility of a reviewer by judging an entire book by two chapters, and compounds her irresponsibility by getting her facts wrong as well.

Here are a few of her errors: She claims I believe the Germans have an "essentialist taint" of racism. Not true. In fact, I specifically state more than once that approximately 50 percent of the German population opposed harming the Jews. Had she read the book she would have found many references to this opposition, even in the preface. She claims I hold "the Christian legacy" responsible for the Nazis; in fact, I explicitly say that Christian anti-Judaism by itself could never have led to Hitler and the Holocaust. And contrary to her claim, I wrote that the popes of the Crusades forbade forcible conversion and the killing of Jews. She implies that I believe practically all Christians were anti-Semites; in fact, I wrote that hundreds of thousands of Christians opposed Hitler's anti-Semitic policies, thousands pleaded with Pius XII to speak out against the Holocaust, and Christians in many lands rescued Jews at their own peril--see the Lutherans of Denmark, for example. She denies that Hitler was a Catholic; he was, and he made a great show of it--nor, by the way, was he or any of the killers who were Catholics ever denied the sacraments or excommunicated for their crimes. And, contrary to her, the pope and Protestant fundamentalists do not and cannot accept the independent legitimacy and validity of Judaism, for to do so would be to accept the Jewish belief that Christ was not the Messiah predicted by the Old Testament. . . .

Let me add that, as a Christian, I, too, along with thousands of other Christians, find it difficult to accept that ...

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