Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In Alon Confino’s new book, A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide, he demonstrates that the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years. He shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves—where they came from and where they were heading—and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration—and justification—for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.
Alon Confino will discuss A World Without Jews on Monday, September 15th, at 4:00pm, in Knox Hall, room 509. A wine reception will follow.
Seating is first-come, first-served. Reservations are not required, but are appreciated. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alon Confino is professor in the department of history at the University of Virginia and at Ben Gurion University, Israel. He is the author of The Nation As a Local Metaphor: Württemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871-1918 (1997), Germany As a Culture of Remembrance: Promises and Limits of Writing History (2006), Foundational Pasts: The Holocaust As Historical Understanding (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2012) and A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide (Yale UP, 2014). His current work is on forced migrations in the 1940s in Central and Eastern Europe, India/Pakistan, and Palestine/Israel, focusing on issues of local history, memory, and human rights.
The audio recording of this event is now available here.