Raul Hil­berg

BORN VI­ENNA, JUNE 2, 1926. DIED VER­MONT, AU­GUST 4, 2007, AGED 81.

The Jewish Chronicle - - Obituaries -

THE fa­ther of Holo­caust stud­ies, his­to­rian Raul Hil­berg coined the terms per­pe­tra­tor, vic­tim and by­s­tander for Hitler’s Fi­nal So­lu­tion.

Son of a sup­plier of goods on credit to poor peo­ple, he left Aus­tria for New York with his fam­ily in 1939. Called up in 1944 and posted to Ger­many, he was sta­tioned in the Mu­nich ex-Nazi base which held Hitler’s crated-up li­brary.

Han­dling the books opened his eyes to Hitler’s anti-Jewish ob­ses­sion and he ded­i­cated his life to study­ing how it turned into a full-scale ex­ter­mi­na­tion pro­gramme in­volv­ing Ger­man so­ci­ety and the econ­omy at ev­ery level.

In 1955, when he pro­duced his the­sis at Columbia Univer­sity, the West was not ready to ab­sorb the full scale and hor­ror. His sem­i­nal book, The De­struc­tion of the Euro­pean Jews, was not pub­lished till 1961. Two ex­panded re­vi­sions fol­lowed in 1985 and 2003.

His re­search of moun­tains of doc­u­ments showed the in­sid­i­ous lev­els of com­pli­ance — even, con­tro­ver­sially, among Jews, to their own doom — and the non­sense of Holo­caust de­nial.

He be­came pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal science at Ver­mont Univer­sity where he taught from 1956-91. In 2006 he was awarded Ger­many’s high­est hon­our to a for­eigner.

He is sur­vived by his sec­ond wife and the son and daugh­ter of his first mar­riage, which ended in di­vorce.

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