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Nations Have the Right to Kill: Hitler, the Holocaust and War

Nations Have the Right to Kill
Author: Richard Koenigsberg

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Commentary on Nations Have the Right to Kill

By Professor Robert Whalen, Chairman of the History Department, Queens University of Charlotte, author of Bitter Wounds: German Victims of the Great War, 1914-1939 and _Sacred Spring: God and the Birth of Modernism in Fin De Siecle Vienna_

Two terrors from long ago haunt us still. First, the Holocaust: that cold-blooded massacre of millions by homicidal technocrats. Second, the ability of political leaders during the First World War to convince ordinary people that slaughtering their neighbors was patriotic. A half century later, we continue to ask: how was this possible?

Richard A. Koenigsberg offers a provocative answer. Driving these terrors, Koenigsberg argues, was a distinct “logic” rooted in a dense and ancient homicidal fantasy. Taking a surprising tack, Koenigsberg relates killing for the nation to dying for the nation. Both warfare and genocide constituted violent redemptive rituals rooted in a fantasy in which the “nation” became a modern, insatiably carnivorous Moloch.

Koenigsberg’s analysis ranges from gender identity, to the First World War, to Aztec warfare. No single answer will exorcize our terrors. But Koenigsberg’s bold and original approach, clearly and precisely presented, will help us, if not to expel them, at least, finally, to comprehend them.