Studying the horrors of the Holocaust typically is centered around the use of the concentration camps and the death of millions of people throughout Europe. What most miss is how the Holocaust was possible. What led to such atrocities? How could it even be imagined? Karl Schleunes goes into the path that brought Hitler and the Holocaust to the world in his book, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy Toward German Jews 1933-1939.
I have watched hundreds of documentaries and read various accounts of the Holocaust, but never had I seen anything that really concentrated on how Hitler and his government came up with idea of exterminating the Jews along with other unwanted groups. I found this interesting study in Schleunes work. He starts with the Jewish ‘problem’ during the Second Reich exploring the tensions that existed long before Hitler appeared on the scene. The feelings already existed and waited on someone to use them.
Schleunes follows the path of German history and politics that put Hitler into the role of leader and dictator of Germany while focusing on the anti-Semitic feelings that were smoldering under the surface. Fanning the flames were those that wanted all Jews exterminated and saw their chance in Hitler who had made promises in his speeches that he would eliminate the Jewish ‘problem’ all true Germans faced.
The reader is taken down the road of boycotting, political side-stepping, legislation, promotion of Aryanization, forced emigration, and the creation of the concentration camps. The idea did not arise with Hitler to power, but developed as plans failed and succeeded along the way for the Third Reich to clear the path of all who ‘opposed’ them or held the Germans back from their destiny.
This work is an outstanding piece of Holocaust writing that does more than recant the life of the concentrations camps or how many died. It helps the world see inside the minds of those that created the camps and set out to destroy lives no matter how young or how old. It does not excuse the murderers, but gives their reasons in a way that clearly reveals how Auschwitz and the other camps could exit at all.
This is an excellent piece of writing for anyone interested in learning more of how the Holocaust occurred than knowing more of the same that you see everywhere else on the horrific events. This book takes you down The Twisted Road to Auschwitz . You will see every curve, bump, and sudden drop of the journey. Add this book to your collection of WWII, German, and Holocaust history material.
Disclaimer: This book was purchased by the author for a History of the Holocaust class.