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Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and Warning | IWM
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Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and Warning


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Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and Warning
New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2015

In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first. Based on new sources from eastern Europe and forgotten testimonies from Jewish survivors, Black Earth recounts the mass murder of the Jews as an event that is still close to us, more comprehensible than we would like to think, and thus all the more terrifying.

The Holocaust began in a dark but accessible place, in Hitler’s mind, with the thought that the elimination of Jews would restore balance to the planet and allow Germans to win the resources they desperately needed. Such a worldview could be realized only if Germany destroyed other states, so Hitler’s aim was a colonial war in Europe itself. In the zones of statelessness, almost all Jews died. A few people, the righteous few, aided them, without support from institutions. Much of the new research in this book is devoted to understanding these extraordinary individuals. The almost insurmountable difficulties they faced only confirm the dangers of state destruction and ecological panic. These men and women should be emulated, but in similar circumstances few of us would do so.

By overlooking the lessons of the Holocaust, Snyder concludes, we have misunderstood modernity and endangered the future. The early twenty-first century is coming to resemble the early twentieth, as growing preoccupations with food and water accompany ideological challenges to global order. Our world is closer to Hitler’s than we like to admit, and saving it requires us to see the Holocaust as it was — and ourselves as we are. Groundbreaking, authoritative, and utterly absorbing, Black Earth reveals a Holocaust that is not only history but warning.

Timothy Snyder is Bird White Housum Professor of History at Yale University and IWM Permanent Fellow.

Further Reading:
Sovereignity and Survival: Lessons of the Holocaust
Excerpt of Black Earth in IWMpost 116

 

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Black Earth. Der Holocaust und warum er sich wiederholen kann
München: C.H.Beck Verlag, 2015

Mit seinem vielfach preisgekrönten Bestseller Bloodlands hat Timothy Snyder die Topographie der Massenmorde in Europa neu vermessen. Jetzt stellt der brillante junge Historiker eine Frage, die längst beantwortet schien: Warum kam es zum Holocaust? Seine Antwort ist provozierend anders als die herrschende Lesart. Und sie fällt nicht nur historisch, sondern auch politisch aus: Denn Snyder zeigt, dass der Holocaust sich jederzeit wiederholen kann.

Wir wissen viel über den Holocaust und seine Ursachen. Aber haben wir wirklich die richtigen Schlussfolgerungen gezogen und es uns mit dem Antisemitismus allein nicht etwas zu einfach gemacht? Einmal mehr bürstet Timothy Snyder die Dinge gegen den gewohnten Strich. Der ebenso verblüffende wie furiose Auftakt des Buches deutet Hitlers Mein Kampf als Manifest einer „ökologischen Panik“. Anschließend wird Schritt für Schritt gezeigt, welche Elemente bei Massenmorden stets wiederkehren, darunter die „Zerstörung des Staates“ und die „Ethnisierung von Schuld“, zwei notwendige Voraussetzungen für den Holocaust, die bislang nur wenig in den Blick genommen worden sind. In der Tradition der großen Hannah Arendt geht Timothy Snyder aber in Black Earth energisch über die historische Darstellung hinaus. Sein Schlusskapitel „Unsere Welt“ wagt den Sprung in die Gegenwart und durchmustert mögliche Gewaltszenarien der nahen Zukunft. Selten ist der Holocaust so radikal aus dem Museum unserer ritualisierten Erinnerungskulturen herausgeholt und als aktuelle Warnung in Stellung gebracht worden wie in diesem emotional aufwühlenden und intellektuell provozierenden Buch.

Timothy Snyder ist Professor für Geschichte an der Yale University und Permanent Fellow am Institut für die Wissenschaft vom Menschen in Wien. Sein Buch Bloodlands wurde in 30 Sprachen übersetzt und mit 12 Preisen ausgezeichnet, darunter der Leipziger Buchpreis für Europäische Verständigung und der Hannah-Arendt-Preis. Black Earth erscheint gleichzeitig in 19 Ländern.

Books in Perspective am 21. Oktober 2015 am Wien Museum.

 

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