Orginal Publication Date
Ethnic Studies Review
As the author observed in this engaging work, the expression "Nazi conscience" is not an oxymoron. Nazi morality, profoundly ethnic in nature, sharply defined those accepted and rejected as members of the German Volk. Claudia Koonz describes with great clarity the emergence of an "ethnic fundamentalism" supported by numerous "ethnocrats" under the Third Reich who, during the "normal years" of 1933-1 939, advanced decidedly racial and biological perspectives on ethnicity (141, 217). Especially significant for our understanding of Nazi racial policy is Koonz's exploration of German public opinion, much of which reflected an abhorrence of Nazi brutality. What made the policy of genocide possible was the rationalization of anti-Jewish measures through a system of legal measures creating the "mirage of law and order" (1 93). Thus, Nazi actions against the racial other could be legally justified and initially accepted by broad sections of the German population before the death camps became a reality. In the end the Nazi conscience could justify the mass murder of Jews as an act of moral responsibility.
Copyright ©ESR, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 2003