When in 1996 I published Hitler’s Willing Executioners I was transformed unexpectedly, and almost instantly, into the author of a #1 international bestseller and the unwitting progenitor of an impassioned international “Goldhagen Debate,” which has since become a fixed part of the western, and especially the German, cultural landscape. The book, about the perpetrators of the Holocaust and ordinary Germans’ role in it, told buried truths about the tens upon tens of thousands who carried out Hitler’s plan to exterminate the Jews: these perpetrators were willing executioners, willing because they were antisemites who believed that exterminating Jews was right and necessary. Survivors of the Holocaust heartily applauded the book, as did younger Germans and people elsewhere who hankered for these tabooed subjects to be finally discussed openly, even as some others clung to various untenable positions with the effect of denying the humanity of the killers and of exonerating them. With time, as many studies have come out which have substantiated Hitler’s Willing Executioners’ conclusions, more and more who have read the book’s vast amount of new research and evidence and its challenging perspectives have come to appreciate and accept what the survivors had known all along.
Speaks nationally and internationally about Worse Than War, Genocide and How to Stop It, Political Islam’s Offensive, the Threat to Israel, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, the Globalization of Antisemitism, and more.
Thus I became a public intellectual, with a debate forever a suffix to my name. I have always been determined to write and speak forthrightly about important topics–topics about which many want to hear, even if many others desperately do not want the truth to be heard. Whether it is about Nazism and the Holocaust, powerful institutions’ moral duties, or the dangers of Political Islam, I have never held my tongue out of fear of what people, including powerful people, might say.
My most recent project, Worse Than War – issuing both in a book and a feature length documentary — tells people what I have learned about genocides and genocide in my three decades of studying them, explaining not just how to understand their many complex facets, but also how to stop the killing. As Hitler’s Willing Executioners did for the Holocaust, Worse Than War poses a powerful challenge to deeply entrenched myths about why genocides happen, fundamentally reconfiguring our understanding of genocide as a global phenomenon and reconceptualizing it as one aspect of a more fundamental form of politics that can be called “eliminationism.” I am gratified that Worse Than War, more than a decade in the writing, has garnered enormous attention and praise.
I hope that you choose to have a look at it. Whether or not you end up agreeing with every conclusion and proposal in Worse Than War, the book offers a plethora of new information and perspectives not just on genocide or eliminationism but on critical aspects of humanity and modernity, society and politics. I hope to rouse your intellect and conscience, even if I at the same time challenge your views about the most foundational matters of politics, society, and human nature.
“A magisterial and profoundly disturbing ‘natural history’ of mass murder.” – New York Times
“Insightful, often startling analysis of why mass murder occurs and how to stop it…makes a convincing case that preventing genocide requires only a modest effort by leaders of democratic nations and the United Nations, both of which are criminally negligent…A significant achievement…intensely researched and wholly original.” – Kirkus
“His book is masterful.” – Anthony Howard, Daily Telegraph (UK)
2009/10: SPIEGEL Interview with Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Mass Slaughter Is a Systemic Problem of the Modern World
“The political scientist Daniel Jonah Goldhagen has never been one to shy away from controversy. In his new book, he argues that state leaders who propagate genocide should be killed outright. SPIEGEL spoke with him about the…” More…