Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

Tim Duggan: Crown. Sept. 2015. 480p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781101903452. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781101903469. HIST
Snyder (history, Yale Univ., Bloodlands) asks what lessons have been learned from the Holocaust 70 years after the end of World War II. The unfolding of the Third Reich is chronicled using survivor testimonies and archival sources that cover the effect of widespread famine and political upheaval in post-World War I Europe on Hitler's racial policies, up until his rise to dominance in the 1930s and 1940s. As in Deborah Dwork and Robert Jan van Pelt's Holocaust, variations in implementation of the Final Solution by country are examined. Snyder highlights the doubly occupied areas of Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia, where the majority of deaths occurred. The application of his analysis of the Holocaust's causes to 21st-century political conditions and ecological stresses is grim. Competition for increasingly scarce planetary resources dovetail with the demonization of neighbors to create conditions remarkably similar to those prior to World War II.
VERDICT Snyder's investigation will appeal to readers with an interest in the history of the Holocaust; his call to action will attract those who believe that, as philosopher George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
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