The History of the Great Crime (Review)

Commentary, March 1952.


Léon Poliakov’s excellent book on the Third Reich and the Jews is the first to describe the last phases of the Nazi regime on the basis, strictly, of primary source material. This consists chiefly of documents presented at the Nuremberg Trials and published in several volumes by the American government under the title Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, These volumes contain, in addition to captured Nazi archives, a considerable number of sworn reports and affidavits by former Nazi officials. Mr. Poliakov, with a reasoned obstinacy, tells the story as the documents themselves unfold it, thus avoiding the prejudices and preconceived judgments that mar almost all the other published accounts. He has an eye for the relevant, and possesses complete and intimate knowledge of Nazi Germany’s complicated administrative machinery, of the fluctuating relations between the different services, as well as the ups and downs of the different cliques around Hitler.

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