Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning
We have come to see the Holocaust as a factory of death, organised by bureaucrats. Yet by the time the gas chambers became operation more than a million European Jews were already dead: shot at close range over pits and ravines. They had been murdered in the lawless killing zones created by the German colonial war in the East, many on the fertile black earth that the Nazis believed would feed the German people. It comforts us to believe that the Holocaust was a unique event. But as Timothy Snyder shows, we have missed basic lessons of the history of the Holocaust, and some of our beliefs are frighteningly close to the ecological panic that Hitler expressed in the 1920s. As ideological and environmental challenges to the world order mount, our societies might be more vulnerable than we would like to think. Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands was an acclaimed exploration of what happened in eastern Europe between 1933 and 1945, when Nazi and Soviet policy brought death to some 14 million people. Black Earth is a deep exploration of the ideas and politics that enabled the worst of these policies, the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Its pioneering treatment of this unprecedented crime makes the Holocaust intelligible, and thus all the more terrifying.
A radical reframing of the Holocaust that challenges prevailing myths and draws disturbing parallels with the present
"In this unusual and innovative book, Timothy Snyder takes a fresh look at the intellectual origins of the Holocaust, placing Hitler's genocide firmly in the politics and diplomacy of 1930s Europe. Black Earth is required reading for anyone who cares about this difficult period of history" -- Anne Applebaum "Timothy Snyder's bold new approach to the Holocaust links Hitler's racial worldview to the destruction of states and the quest for land and food. This insight leads to thought-provoking and disturbing conclusions for today's world. Black Earth uses the recent past's terrible inhumanity to underline an urgent need to rethink our own future" -- Ian Kershaw "Part history, part political theory, Black Earth is a learned and challenging reinterpretation" -- Henry A. Kissinger "Black Earth is provocative, challenging, and an important addition to our understanding of the Holocaust. As he did in Bloodlands, Timothy Snyder makes us rethink those things we were sure we already knew" -- Deborah Lipstadt "Timothy Snyder's Black Earth is not only a powerful exposure of the horrors of the Holocaust but also a compelling dissection of the Holocaust's continuing threat" -- Zbigniew Brzezinski
Timothy Snyder is the Housum Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of Bloodlands, which received the Hannah Arendt Prize, the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding and the literature award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Snyder is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement and a former contributing editor at The New Republic. He is a member of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a permanent fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences, and sits on the advisory council of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research.