BOOKS: WHAT DID THEY KNOW?

AND WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT? A FIERCE NEW BOOK ARGUES THAT ORDINARY GERMANS WERE DEEPLY COMPLICIT IN THE HOLOCAUST

IT IS THE COMMON VIEW OF HITLER'S Germany that the mass murder of 6 million European Jews was primarily carried out by Nazi zealots. Ordinary Germans, we like to think, knew little or nothing about the Holocaust; if they participated in the killings, they did so under duress, subject to orders that could not be disobeyed. Utter nonsense, argues Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, an assistant professor of government and social studies at Harvard. In an explosive new book, Hitler's Willing Executioners (Knopf; 622 pages; $30), he contends that the perpetrators of the Final Solution were, by and large, ordinary men and women,...

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