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Donald Bloxham's The Final Solution: A Genocide

2269 words - 10 pages

Bloxham book ‘the final solution: A genocide’ has brought about much criticism and debate. In this book Bloxham “seeks to situate the mass-murder of European Jewry between 1941 and 1945 within the broader history of European genocide from 1875 to 1945” . In this, he challenges the uniqueness of the holocaust, and presents the argument that the full meaning of the holocaust and final solution can only be completely understood, if it is placed in the larger context of genocide. Bloxham argues that “the history of the holocaust is itself an international history, and international history always has comparative dimensions” . Furthermore, in the forum Bloxham states that the aim of the book was to bring the holocaust into a wider history of genocide and bridge together the holocaust and genocide studies. This analysis will look at each review in order of appearance in the forum, and the comments Bloxham reports back in reaction. However in light of this analysis, not all points that were raised will be able to be commented on, instead this analysis will focus on the key point’s aspect of each review.
To begin, Matthaus suggests that one should not focus on whether the argument for uniqueness is important (to which all reviews seem to suggest), it should focus on whether the book helps us have a better understanding of the holocaust . It should question if it produces new insights, and provides us with the origins and driving forces behind genocide. What is being argued here is that historians should look at whether analysing the holocaust in a way Bloxham does, helps to understand the wider context of national genocides as well as understanding this specific event. By focusing on the books core narrative, the review comments on each chapter thematically. Matthaus clearly identifies the aims of his book: to “look at interrelations between cases of genocide and the politics that perpetrated genocide” and to “maximise the light thrown onto the final solution not only by studying its developments in detail but by studying prior European ethno politics and genocides elsewhere in the world” . Although Matthaus seems at first very sketchy about the fact that Bloxham only relied on published work, which raises concerns about the methodology for such a bridge building book. It turns out that he agrees that it is a “highly insightful and stimulating analysis with huge potential for expanding the limits of how we understand the correlation between the holocaust and other genocide phenomena’s”
Furthermore, the “masterful synthesis of the Third Reich history alone makes his book stand out among overview studies on the Nazi era” . Matthaus argues that two elements of his book are note worthy. One is the reconstruction of the stages, agents and driving forces in the developments towards the final solution. Secondly that concepts like ‘lebensraum’ did impact on social and political practises, whereas others like ‘security’ were strongly rooted in ideological...

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