Skip to main content

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning







Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy J. Snyder

Timothy J. Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University and no stranger to writing on the Holocaust has written an excellent new book on the Holocaust entitled Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.  Snyder opens his book by focusing on the fountainhead of Hitler’s views, his concept nature and his worldview.  Politics and power were but empty stereotypes that were left for the author to fill them with meaning.  Snyder writes, “Reason was replaced by references, argumentation by incantations…The totalistic idea of life as struggle placed all power to interpret any event in the mind of its author (Introduction).”  Science, for Hitler, was not about increasing advancements for the benefit of the common man, “rather it was a completed revelation of the law of racial struggle.”  There were no questions that would lead the scientist to further discoveries because this would be disastrous for Hitler, for with new discoveries, his racial struggle theory would come to its groundless state.

In the first chapter Snyder opens up to his reader’s Hitler’s interpretation of the word Lebensraum.  Coming into the German language as “habitat,” it also had the household definition of “living room.”  Snyder writes, “Nature was nothing more than society, society nothing more than nature.  Thus there was no difference between an animal struggle for physical existence and the preference of families for nicer lives (chapter 1).”  How does this play out for Hitler?  For one, these European populated lands, specifically east of Germany could be colonized to increase the living space of the racially superior.  Further, as Snyder reiterates in his book, these foreign lands would also be the place where the killing fields existed, where the Nazis would send the Jews to die.  The sense of purging the land of inferior peoples and inhabiting them would only increase the area for the extermination of Jews, outside of the purview of those living in cities like Berlin, Stuttgart, and Munich. 
In chapter 11, Snyder chronicles the events and people involved in the Polish Home Army and their attempts to counter the Germans.  What I found to be most interesting was the paper mills that were created by the Home Army to save many Jews.  Snyder writes, “The Home Army also carried out some actions to save Jewish lives, or support Jewish struggles.  Probably the most significant way…was by the production of false German documents.  Their famous “paper mills” could generate Kennkarten , indicating in fact that Jews were in fact Poles:…”  The Jews had safety from their identity being found out by German officers and belonged to an organization who came together to fight. 

This is a captivating book and one which I will go back to and read again.  With an amazing ability to bring to light sources from many other languages, Snyder is unparalleled in his abilities.


Thanks to Blogging for Books for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder
Misperceptions, misconnections, and missed observations are just some of the issues that Timothy Snyder raises in his book, Black Earth, concerning the Holocaust.  Snyder, no stranger to the frontlines of scholarship on the Holocaust, with his previous book Bloodlands, that concerns the land from Hitler to Stalin, takes a look at the Holocaust from new sources and new avenues of thought.  How did some nation-states survive relatively unscathed from Nazi persecution while others, notably Jewish populations, succumb to a wave of killings?  Also, what was the role of the Soviet Union in the war and how did Stalin effect changes in the Final Solution?  These questions are only two of the many that Snyder answers in his detailed account of the Holocaust.
One of the best chapters was entitled The Auschwitz Paradox.  Generally when the public thinks about the Holocaust, we think of Auschwitz first or at the top of our mental m…

the great spiritual migration

The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian D McLaren

Brian McLaren and his own pithy way brings to the foreground and emphasis on a new kind of Christianity. The kind of faith that Brian envisions is a kind of migration not been set in the bedrock of beliefs that is unmoving but rather shifting with both culture and with faith. His new book the great spiritual migration is exactly that, a pointed work that encapsulates a vision towards the future where Christianity is changing and its peoples lives are changed as well.

Brian states in the introduction, "but we also know that for a lot of people Christianity is malfunctioning, seriously so, and it's not pretty. This kind of frustration with conventional Christianity is what McLaren gets gets to at the heart of this message is concerned with a number of different clusters unbelief. One, namely that Christianity has been stuck in a set of propositions or beliefs that has controlled churches in the faith, rather then a spirit of love t…

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson

NKJV Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Growing up with the NIV, the NKJV was not a bible I was familiar with.  This new NKJV Study Bible takes all of the features of the Thomas Nelson Study Bible and makes them better.  Right out of the box I noticed that the Bible was considerably lighter than most study bibles I have read.  Further, the text font was much larger than most study editions, although I’m not quite sure of the size. The aquamarine color was a great touch and the Bible was finely put together, enduring the wear of many coming years of use.
Why is this Bible worth the purchase?  First, the study notes were great for extra handling of particular confusing and messy areas of Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments.  Yet, the study notes aren’t an obstruction to the reading of the biblical text.  Clearly, the editors have taken great care in making the text stand out and the notes illuminate certain themes and areas of Scripture.  Second, the NKJV takes into account all t…