"It's difficult to admit the obvious"
political world

he Course of the Holocaust

jan peczkis|Sunday, October 11, 2015

This review is based on the 1982 edition. This book traces the Holocaust from early anti-Jewish teachings, the emergence of racial anti-Semitism, the rise of Nazi ideology, the decision to murder the Jews, the implementation of the Holocaust, rescue attempts, Jewish resistance, theological and philosophical implications, etc. Bauer soundly repudiates any notion of the German death camps being erected in German-occupied Poland because of the presumed anti-Semitism of the local population (p. 210). It was simply a matter of practicality.


Bauer notes that more than half of prewar Polish Jews were nonreligious (p. 177). Hlond-like comments about "Jews-as-freethinkers" can be understood in this light.

To his credit, Bauer recognizes the essential difference between traditional Christian teachings about Jews and those of the later Nazis: "The term anti-Semitism was apparently first used by a racist ideologist in Germany, Wilhelm Marr, in 1878 and 1879...But in an increasingly secularized society in which there was no belief in Jesus, the question of who was responsible for his death seemed irrelevant. Marr, Duehring, de Lagarde, and the other racists, violently anti-Christian, saw Christianity--quite rightly, of course--as derived from Judaism and therefore utterly condemnable. They needed a `modern', `scientific' term, hygienic, neutral, that would not include the word Jew." (p. 43)

When elaborating on efforts of the German-occupied nations to warn the outside world about what was being done to the Jews, Bauer writes: "The Polish government-in-exile had been the first official body to lend unhesitating credence to the reports on planned mass murder. Since June [1942], they had been bombarding the Americans and the British with demands to recognize the facts and to do something about them." (p. 300)

Bauer touches on the Nazi genocides of non-Jews: "Three million Poles were murdered by the Nazis during the course of the war, by methods best defined as selective genocide. The Polish intelligentsia, the Catholic priesthood--especially in western Poland--and a large peasant population fell victim to the Nazi desire to eliminate the proud Polish nation. In contrast to other European nations, practically no political figure in Poland cooperated politically with the Nazis." (p. 286). Bauer doesn't mention the fact that the Germans were not in a position to murder many more Poles than they did because they needed Poles as forced laborers, and because it would've been too disruptive during wartime (see Peczkis Listmania: Forgotten Holocaust: Nazi Genocide of Poles).

Owing to the overview nature of this book, it has some obvious errors. For instance, Bauer dwells on the poverty of prewar Polish Jews (pp. 61-62). This was only true of a fraction of them. Despite measures taken to reduce Jewish economic dominance, the average Jew was still wealthier than the average Pole. Bauer's remarks about the AK (p. 265, 285) and the NSZ (p. 285) are untrue, and the latter are nothing more than a repetition of Communist propaganda (from Shmuel Krakowski (p. 367, Ref. 8), a Communist).
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