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The Holocaust History Project.
The Holocaust History Project.

Goldhagen, Daniel


I am interested in reading comments or discussion of Goldhagen's book "Hitler's Willing Executioners." Perhaps you know where they are available. Thank you.

Richard J. Green answers:


As you no doubt are aware, this book has generated considerable controversy. Some of my colleagues may be able to point you to other sources, but I thought you might find interesting a review I wrote of Birn and Finkelsteins critique of Goldhagen.

You can find it at



Rich Green


I am interested in any material other than your short answers regarding the Goldhagen theory and "Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust" I would very much appreciate any references to publications, or indeed direct answers, to questions regarding the willingness of Germans to murder Jews from 1938 to 1945

Marty Kelley answers:

I am one of the volunteers who answers questions for the Holocaust History Project.

I recently acquired, but have not yet had the chance to read, a collection of essays titled Unwilling Germans? The Goldhagen Debate, edited by Robert R. Shandley (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota Press, 1998). This book collects a wide range of articles originally published between 1996 and 1997 (mostly in Germany, though many were also translated and republished elsewhere) debating various aspects of Goldhagen's book. It also includes a number of replies by Goldhagen to his critics. On the basis of a brief look at the table of contents, I'd say it looks quite good.

On the web, of course, a search for "Goldhagen Willing Executioners" or similar terms will turn up endless hits, which I am unable to provide any comprehensive assessnment of. Most links are to individual reviews of the book. You might take a look at the suggested bibliography for a Macquarie University (Australia) Political Science course on genocide, at http://www.genocide.mq.edu.au/AspectsGoldha.htm This list includes only citations, however, not the full text of any articles. What appears to be a fairly balanced assortment of online discussions of Ruth Bettina Birn's critique of Goldhagen (which is discussed in the link from THHP), though far from exhaustive, is compiled at http://www2.h-net.msu.edu/~german/discuss/goldhagen/

Finally, I found what looks like a potentially interesting 1-1/2 hour audio file, a University of South Florida Library panel discussion of Goldhagen, titled "Explaining the Perpertrators: Ordinary Germans, Ordinary Men, and the Goldhagen Controversy," featuring Dr. Christopher Browning, Dr. Jacob Neusner, and Sam Fustukjian, at http://www.lib.usf.edu/spccoll/vr/lecture/browning/audio.html

Good luck with your research! This is among the thorniest questions in Holocaust studies, and will probably never be completely resolved to everyone's satisfaction. I hope that these references will be of some help to you; please feel free to write us again if we can assist you with further questions.


Marty Kelley, Ph.D.

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