Timothy Snyder on the Holocaust with Lessons for Today

Recently, Timothy Snyder was at the barricades in Ukraine, complaining that Western voices were drowned out by “really effective propaganda apparatus” even as Crimea was annexed.  He should know something about how oppression looks. His last book was a very sobering–but essential read–about how much Poland suffered in WW II between the Germans, and then later, the Red Army. Now, the Yale historian wades into the lessons of the Holocaust, in an effort to refocus our understanding on it in a new book, seen as “not a conventional history“:

“It’s become much less about causes, and much more about pictures and remembering and honoring,” he continued. “What honoring leads to is a lot of respectful silence. That has its place, but it doesn’t generate knowledge.”

In Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, Snyder aims to elevate our understanding of less-known Eastern European voices. These quotes from the NYT book review should serve to introduce an important (and undoubtably much-discussed) new book:

“Our shorthand for talking about this stuff has been Poles and Jews, Germans and Jews,” Mr. Snyder said. “I think it should be states, institutions, micro-level sociological explanations, economic behavior.” Source: Timothy Snyder’s ‘Black Earth’ Puts Holocaust, and Himself, in Spotlight – The New York Times


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