Making Sense of Participation in the Holocaust: Is Al Qaeda Comparable to Hitler’s Nazis?

HOUSTON, TX (August 5, 2008) – In recent years, there have been many references to links or symmetries between Al Qaeda and the Nazis of World War II Germany. Both have been seen as composed of fanatics who use modern means to turn the clock back. Yet, how good are evaluations of Al Qaeda as a guide to what made the Nazis tick?

Best-selling author Mark Roseman will attempt to answer that question during a free public lecture on Thursday, Aug. 14, 2008, at Holocaust Museum Houston’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Albert and Ethel Herzstein Theater. Seating is limited and advance registration is requested. Visit www.hmh.org/register.asp to register online.

Roseman argues that, for much of the post-WW II period, the Nazis – apart from Adolf Hitler, Goebbels and a very few others – were seen not as fanatics but as amoral technocrats, bureaucrats or, at most, ice-cold killers. The most famous mid-level perpetrator, Adolf Eichmann, has long been seen as neither fanatical nor demonic, but banally committed to doing his job, no matter what the human cost.

But with the end of the Cold War and the experience of the recent mayhem in the Balkans, a new generation of historians has become more aware of the importance of convictions and beliefs among the perpetrators. Roseman says the fact remains that few Nazis were willing to commit suicide for the cause. And he questions the speed with which they adapted to new circumstances after the war, arguing that it calls into doubt the real depth of their beliefs.

Roseman is the Pat M. Glazer Chair of Jewish Studies and a professor of history at Indiana University. He was educated at Christ’s College Cambridge and the University of Warwick and held posts at various universities in the United Kingdom before moving to Indiana in 2004. He is the author of several books, including "A Past in Hiding," which won four major prizes, including the Fraenkel Prize, the Wingate Literary Prize and the Geschwister Scholl prize. He is also the author of "The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting. The Wannsee Conference and the 'Final Solution,'" which was one of the best-selling non-fiction works in the United Kingdom and has since appeared in 11 languages.

He has edited four books including most recently "Conflict, Catastrophe and Continuity. Essays on Modern German History." He has held a number of prestigious fellowships and recently completed a fellowship at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., where he is working on a source edition of Jewish responses to the Holocaust. He is also writing a study on Nazi perpetrators.

Roseman’s appearance is underwritten by Anna and Emil Steinberger, with special thanks to Continental Airlines, official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.

For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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