The ability of Germany to move from a despicable anti-Semitism without becoming very dangerous to its last solution has remained to be one of the mysteries of the 20th century. The issue has attracted much debate in the recent past with historians being sharply divided. This write-up considers the position of one of the leading historians of the time, Philippe Burrin, who authored the book Nazi Anti-Semitism. His book helped to shed more light on how the Nazi thought and policy underwent evolution. The book also explained the role played by fuehrer in mistreating the Jews who were living in Europe. He disagreed with his colleagues, such as Daniel Goldhagen, who had harshly judged the German population in general for their hatred of the Jewish people. He also disagreed with those who in their support of the Nazi had claimed that there was no way in which it could be proved that Adolf Hitler was also connected to Holocaust. He therefore presents a clear picture of the way in which the Nazi policy had evolved. According to him, the process involved the movement by Germans from unimaginable premise to the Holocaust. 

This book gives the happenings right from the dominant racism that was experienced in the later part of the 19th century to the time past the Holocaust (Dean 166). It therefore presents deeper revelation of the happenings during this period. What makes this book different from the other books and gives it much relevance is the fact that it gives a discussion on the actual linkage that existed between the anti-Semitism as it occurred and the genocide. In particular, it presents an examination of whether it was a causal relationship or a solidarity one. Burrin claims that it all started by a high level of hatred which was majorly characterized with prejudice.

He then proceeds by presenting his observation that the situation in Germany in the early 20th century was similar to that experienced in France. That is, Germany too had another religion besides that of Catholicism. This was known as Freemasonry which was perpetrated by Adolf Hitler. Burrin argues that destruction of the Jews by both the tradition and Christian culture was to be done through the formulation of technology in Europe. He therefore goes ahead and discusses connection between religion and anti-Semitism.

Additionally, Burrin refuted the claim by other historians that the National identity of the Germans was similar to that of the Nazi. He also analyzed the role played by racism in the kind of ideology that was common among the Nazi. He further rejected any attempt to condemn the Germans in general as being anti-Jewish. In his argument he states that anti-Semitism was never for the Germans alone. To further justify his claim Burrin gave an extensive analysis of the reason as to why it was the Jews and not another group that was befallen by terror. He also had to explain the reason as to why these particular happenings took place just in Germany while the better part of Europe was experiencing the same kind of hostility towards the Jews. He therefore managed to prove that it is not proper to assume that the Germans were collectively responsible for the horror that befell the Jews.

According to Burrin, Nazi anti-Semitism had multiple strands which are expressed both as apocalyptic and racial. He notes that it was also used in the search for identity among people of Nazi in which it acted as a weapon. He further argued that anti-Semitism also presented the views of both the Jews and the Germans on Hitler’s position on the issue with that of the Jews being negative while that of the Germans were positive. He proceeded to give a suggestion on why the majority of Germans seemingly identified with Hitler’s position concerning the kind of struggle that involved the Germans and the Jews and his passive role towards helping the Jews people out of their hard situation.

Burrin also discussed the historical perspective of the origin and development of the thought of anti-Semitism. He analyzed it right from many years prior to the beginning of the First World War. In his explanation of why this thought was common in Germany he linked the happenings with the country’s thirst for power. He argued that it is this craving for power that made Germany to be a victim in the causation of horror against the Jews.

Burrin (29) supported his position basing his argument on the claim that emancipation would have taken its toll on Germany by the 1930s because there was already an attempt to authoritatively restructure the country politically. It would have thus happened even if Adolf Hitler has not had ascended to power. Burrin (29) therefore presented Nazism as having an effect on all aspects of lives of the Germans. That is their social, religious life as well as the way in which they carried out such activities as farming and industrialization.   

In justifying why the country had attempted to formulate policies that seek to exclude the Jews, Burrin surprisingly claimed that war was very necessary to help in the formation of a group of a genocidal community from the larger Germany’s apartheid society that was in the country during this period. He also used the same claim to justifying why the policy that was seeking to exterminate the Jewries who were in Europe excluded the Jews. The policy had also claimed that what it called the final solution would be better than any partial solution (Dean, 167). This was because it was applicable in all the places that were under control of the Nazi party and was even to be extended to include other places that were under control of the Nazi machines of war. He further argued that if genocide has been the goal of Nazism, then it would not have chosen to implement extermination policy leaving other policies which would have been cruel on the Jews that were available. In fact, such policies as enforced migration were already in use and would have easily been applied.   

Nicosia (64) also reports an argument by Burrin that Adolf Hitler could have made the same decision as claimed to have been made on the Jews on other groups such as the Russians and the Germans whom, according to him, had also been subjected to a similar suffering. He notes that it became clear to the Germans, who openly expressed their knowledge right from the year 1943, that there was going to be an organized bombing on the reign of the Nazi to revenge on their actions on the Jews. According to Burrin, this shows that the Germans were knowledgeable of the oncoming genocide. He also argued that this points to the fact that the Germans believed that power of the Jews was steadily increasing in the world.


In conclusion, irrespective of many faults that may have been pointed out, the book has been successful in bringing the limelight and condemning the historical censorship on both the political leaders and the various governments. This has been common with most historical books while others have sought to avoid the remembrance of the people who lost their lives during such historical periods.

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