Raul Hilberg was a giant in the field of Genocide and Holocaust Studies. Frequently cited as the founder of the field in the United States, Hilberg wrote, taught, and mentored for decades. In a series of influential books, he scouted out the terrain, mapped events, people and personalities, and offered lenses through which to view our field of study. His students and mentees embarked on their own journeys and, in their own ways, set an agenda we continue to pursue today.
In German Railroads, Jewish Souls: The Reichsbahn, Bureaucracy, and the Final Solution (Berghahn Books, 2019), Christopher Browning and Peter Hayes offer an assessment and appreciation of Hilberg’s work. The book explains some of Hilberg’s most influential ideas by focusing on his research on the German Railroad system. Browning and Hayes reprints Hilberg’s work, show how his interpretations shaped the field, and assess how recent research has followed on and nuanced Hilberg’s conclusions. And they reprint a variety of documents that illustrate Hilberg’s analysis. Students will find it immensely valuable. But everyone will benefit from revisiting some of the most important early work in Holocaust studies. It is a fitting tribute to a great scholar.
Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.
Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University.