In An Uncompromising Generation, Michael Wildt follows the journey of a strikingly homogenous group of young academics—who came from the educated, bourgeois stratum of society—as they started to identify with the Nazi concept of Volksgemeinschaft, which labeled Jews as enemies of the people and justified their murder.
Wildt’s study traces the intellectual evolution of key members of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) from their days as students until the end of World War II. Established in 1939, this office fused together the Gestapo, the Criminal Police, and the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service) of the SS. Far from being small cogs in a big bureaucratic machine, Wildt finds that the people who made up the RSHA constructed the concepts and operated the apparatus that carried out the Holocaust.
At the center of both theory and practice of persecution and genocide in Nazi-occupied Europe, these young men of the RSHA—none of whom envisioned the systematic annihilation of the European Jews—became radicalized. How this occurred is the central question of Wildt’s book. Wildt also discusses the postwar careers of the members of the RSHA. Strikingly, he shows how the leaders of the RSHA evaded the consequences of their actions under the Nazi regime and went on to have important careers in the rebuilt West Germany.
An alternate selection of the History Book Club and Military Book Club