Title: Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?
Author: Arno Mayer
Genre: Jewish Holocaust History, History
Was the extermination of the Jews part of the Nazi plan from the very start? Arno Mayer offers a startling and compelling answer to this question, which is much debated among historians today. In doing so, he provides one of the most thorough and convincing explanations of how the genocide came about in Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?, which provoked widespread interest and controversy when first published. Mayer demonstrates that, while the Nazis’ anti-Semitism was always virulent, it did not become genocidal until well into the Second World War, when the failure of their massive, all-or-nothing campaign against Russia triggered the Final Solution. He details the steps leading up to this enormity, showing how the institutional and ideological frameworks that made it possible evolved, and how both related to the debacle in the Eastern theater. In this way, the Judeocide is placed within the larger context of European history, showing how similar ‘holy causes’ in the past have triggered analogous – if far less cataclysmic – infamies.
A powerful historical book that covers in detail the Holocaust of World War Two. Mayer takes an unusual approach in looking at the reason for the Holocaust, one more scholarly than from personal experience. He states, correctly, there is a school of thought that says Hitler and the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jews from day one.
Through an incredibly detailed review of available evidence, Mayer makes the sound argument that the decision to exterminate the Jewish people came as a result of a number of circumstances. Most of these circumstances stem from the Nazi war on Russia - and their failure in that theater of war. It is posited that had Germany been able to defeat Russia, they were prepared to simply make Greater Germany Judenfrei by shipping all Jews over the Urals.
With Russia stopping Germany in 1941, before Russia defeating them in 1942 at Stalingrad and subsequently stifling the last ditch efforts in 1943, the Germans fell into a cycle of slaughter that chiefly destroyed six million Jews.
While not an easy read, this is a very important book and in this day and age, it should be read by every single person when they turn eighteen. The scourge of Nazis and White Power is not part of the past. It is here today and the world must stand up to it and put it back in the dustbin of history where it resided only for the 50 or 60 years after 1945.
My Rating: 5 stars
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Arno Mayer is Professor Emeritus of European History at Princeton University. His many books include The Persistence of the Old Regime: Europe to the Great War, The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions, Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel and Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The “Final Solution” in History.
Reviewed by: Mr. N