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Mobilising Hate

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781472146434

Price: £22

ON SALE: 24th November 2022

Genre: Humanities / History / History: Specific Events & Topics

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Praise for The Perfect Nazi:
‘Absorbing, highly readable and painstakingly researched’ NIALL FERGUSON

‘Unforgettable, haunting reading’ SIMON SCHAMA

‘A fascinating and extraordinary journey into the banality of evil at the heart of Nazism’ BEN MACINTYRE

‘Riveting’ THE TIMES

‘Fascinating, scrupulously researched, compelling’ SUNDAY TIMES

In this radical new perspective on the Holocaust, Davidson challenges popular understanding and existing histories of the Holocaust.

He does this in three main ways.

Firstly, he describes the way in which German policy developed and was enacted in new and compelling detail, providing a road map to the ‘long and twisting road to Auschwitz’, skilfully dramatising those twists and turns, many of which are not generally included in conventional narratives.

Secondly, he allows us to hear from new voices, notably female perpetrators, resisters and victims. These provide individual human perspectives on the unfolding events, without which true understanding is impossible; from planning and implementation, to knowledge – and its opposite, denial – all the way to its final reckoning, then and now.

And finally, he provides a reappraisal of the moral perspective that drove the Holocaust, getting beyond the conventional notion of ‘evil’ as a catch-all rationale, to examine why anti-Jewish vitriol was such a powerful motivator for so many Germans, who used arguments and self-justifications that are more resonant today than they have been for decades. Never more so than in the use of the idea of suffering – how ‘our’ supposed suffering justifies ‘theirs’.

His focus is very much on the mindset that brought about the Holocaust, the desire to ‘make Germany great again’ and to make Germany’s perceived enemies suffer. Again, this story of dreams of national greatness, and racially-targeted redemptive malevolence could not be more resonant today.

Davidson foregrounds the stories of women, in part to illustrate the mindset of Nazi true believers – the German wife stationed in Poland, for example, who found a group of Jewish children who had escaped a mass execution, and shot them herself. He also describes the particular horror experienced by female inmates of the camps, who, as mothers, were the first to be killed alongside their children, and who were among the bravest of German resisters to the crimes being committed in their name – like twenty-one-year-old Sophie Scholl, whose leaflets listing and denouncing Nazi crimes resulted in her execution, in October 1943.

The Holocaust forces us to understand that it wasn’t the power of a single malevolent leader who made it happen; it was something altogether more alarming. A system of a thousand moving parts, the genocidal logic of which was willed into being, before being planned, mobilised – and submitted to – by millions of different people, acting via different agencies, under different jurisdictions, like iron filings held in the pull of a particular magnetic field which they were happy to replicate and reinforce. The resulting feedback loop would help shape-shift the Final Solution throughout the years of its existence, its direction of travel only ever from bad to worse. That is why the story has to be understood not just in the form of a fast-moving narrative – step after step after step, taken by myriad different people acting out their very different roles – but in the round, held up to the light and rotated through 360 degrees, drawing in not just war and politics, ideology and delusion, geography and economics, but accident, contingency, intention, sadism, innocence, self-justification, resistance, denial and ultimately, meaninglessness too.

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Reviews

Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Absorbing, highly readable and painstakingly researched . . . An intensely personal exploration of the banality of evil.
Niall Ferguson
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Fascinating . . . Davidson has pulled together an account which is compelling and yet, at times, tantalizingly incomplete . . . this is an important book for anyone interested in the moral climate which led to the Holocaust and the other crimes of the Third Reich, and I can highly recommend it.
Adrian Weale, Evening Standard
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: A terrific piece of writing . . . The ordinariness of the man, combined with the fact that he was an "old fighter", make him a compelling example of willing Germans. His postwar life and the absence of any reflection or remorse are also strikingly familiar from other cases we know. [The Perfect Nazi] deserves to do well.
David Cesarani
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: One of the most unsettling books to have been written about the Third Reich not only because of the brutality with which it engages but because of the story of the hatching of great wickedness in a most prosaic life. If there ever was a personification of the banality of evil, it is Martin Davidson's Granpa Bruno. It is two stories in one - both riveting - that of the dentist's transformation into unswerving SS officer and of the grandson's appalled discovery. Woven together they make for unforgettable, haunting reading.
Simon Schama
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: The fascinating and utterly compelling account of what it's like to discover that your grandfather was a ruthless officer in Hitler's SS.
Philip Kerr
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Brave, engrossing, shocking.
Herald
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Davidson's journey into his grandfather's past makes for a compelling and unsettling tale . . . [A] thoughtful and affecting book.
Dominic Sandbrook
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Riveting.
The Times
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Fascinating, scrupulously researched, compelling.
The Sunday Times
Praise for The Perfect Nazi: Searching for the truth about his German grandfather, Martin Davidson discovered Hitler's Everyman: the enthusiastic fascist functionary, unquestioning, unrepentant, and chillingly ordinary. The Perfect Nazi is a fascinating and extraordinary journey into the banality of evil at the heart of Nazism.
Ben MacIntyre