Yehuda Bauer (Hebrew: יהודה באואר; born April 6, 1926) is an Israeli historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
|Alma mater||Cardiff University|
|Thesis||British Mandate of Palestine|
Yehuda Bauer was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia and fluent in Czech, Slovak and German. He later learned Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French and Polish. His father had strong Zionist convictions and during the 1930s he tried to raise money to relocate his family to the British Mandate of Palestine. On the day Nazi Germany annexed Czechoslovakia, March 15, 1939, the family immigrated to Palestine by managing to get past Nazi officials on a train which slipped them over the border into Poland. From there they moved via Romania to Palestine.
Bauer attended high school in Haifa and at sixteen, inspired by his history teacher, Rachel Krulik, he decided to dedicate himself to studying history. Upon completing high school, he joined the Palmach. He attended Cardiff University in Wales on a British scholarship, interrupting his studies to fight in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, after which he completed his degree.
Bauer returned to Israel to join Kibbutz Shoval and began his graduate work in history at the Hebrew University. He received his doctorate in 1960 for a thesis on the British Mandate of Palestine. The following year, he began teaching at the Institute for Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University.
He served on the central committee of Mapam, then the junior partner party of Israel's ruling Mapai (Israel Labour Party), and was a visiting professor at Brandeis University, Yale University, Richard Stockton College, and Clark University. He was the founding editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies, and served on the editorial board of the Encyclopaedia of the Holocaust, published by Yad Vashem in 1990.
Awards and recognition
- In 1998, he was awarded the Israel Prize, for "history of the Jewish people", primarily in connection with his Holocaust studies.
- In 2001, he was elected a Member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
- In 2008, he received the Yakir Yerushalayim (Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem) award from the city of Jerusalem.
In addition, he currently serves as academic adviser to Yad Vashem, academic adviser to the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research, and senior adviser to the Swedish Government on the International Forum on Genocide Prevention.
Views and opinions
Bauer specializes in the Holocaust, antisemitism —a word which he insists should be written unhyphenated—and the Jewish resistance movement during the Holocaust, and he has argued for a wider definition of the term. In Bauer's view, resistance to the Nazis comprised not only physical opposition but any activity that gave the Jewish people dignity and humanity in the most humiliating and inhumane conditions. Furthermore, Bauer has disputed the popular view that most Jews went to their deaths passively—"like sheep to the slaughter". He argues that, given the conditions in which the Jews of Eastern Europe had to endure, what is surprising is not how little resistance there was, but rather how much. Bauer has defended Rudolf Kastner and the Aid and Rescue Committee, who have been criticized for allegedly not publicizing the Vrba-Wetzler report which documented the deportation of the Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz. According to Bauer, conditions prevented Kastner and other Jewish leaders from publicizing what they knew, and prevented Jews from escaping.
With regard to the functionalism versus intentionalism question, Bauer started out as an Intentionalist, but he is now a leading proponent of a synthesis of the two schools. Bauer argues that on the basis of Heinrich Himmler's memorandum of May 25, 1940 to Adolf Hitler regarding the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question"—in which Himmler states his rejection of "the Bolshevik method of physical annihilation of a people out of inner conviction as un-German and impossible," and goes on to recommend the Madagascar Plan as the desired "territorial solution" of the "Jewish Question"—proves that there was no master plan for genocide going back to the days when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf. However, Bauer takes issue with Functionalist historians, such as Hans Mommsen, who argue that the lead in the Holocaust was taken entirely by lower-level officials with little involvement by the leadership in Berlin.
Bauer believes that Hitler was the key figure who caused the Holocaust, and that at some point in the later half of 1941, he gave a series of orders which called for the genocide of the entire Jewish population. Bauer has pointed to the discovery of an entry in Himmler's notebook dated December 18, 1941 where Himmler wrote down the question "What to do with the Jews of Russia?" According to the same notebook, Hitler's response to the question was "Exterminate them as partisans." In Bauer's view, this is as close as historians will ever get to a definitive order from Hitler ordering the Holocaust. Bauer believes that, at about the same time, Hitler gave further verbal orders for the Holocaust, but unfortunately for historians, nobody bothered to write them down. What the Nazis called the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" was formalized at the Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942.
Bauer disagrees with those who argue that the Holocaust was just another genocide. Though he agrees that there were other genocides in history, he argues that the Holocaust was the worst single case of genocide in history, in which every member of a nation was selected for annihilation. American historian Henry Friedlander argues that the Romani and the disabled were just as much victims of the Holocaust as the Jews were. However, Bauer has said that the Romani were subject to genocide (just not "the Holocaust") and he has supported the demands of Romani for reparations from Germany.
Another trend that Bauer has denounced is the representation of the Holocaust as a mystical experience outside the normal range of human understanding. He has argued against the work of some Orthodox rabbis and theologians who say that the Holocaust was the work of God and part of a mysterious master plan for the Jewish people. In Bauer's view, those who seek to promote this line of thinking argue that God is just and good, while simultaneously bringing down the Holocaust on the Jewish people. Bauer has argued that a God who inflicts the Shoah on his Chosen People is neither good nor just. Moreover, Bauer has argued that this line of reasoning robs Adolf Hitler of his evil: if Hitler was just fulfilling God's will regarding the Jews, then he was merely an instrument of divine wrath and did not choose to be evil.
In January 2012, Bauer's article in the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs entitled "The Holocaust, America and American Jewry" precipitated a bitter debate between him, Rafael Medoff (Wyman Institute) and Alexander J. Groth (University of California, Davis), on what the US Government and the Jews of America could and could not have done to rescue the Jews of Europe.
At Yad Vashem Professor Bauer stated that Hillel Kook (Peter Bergson), founder and director of the New York based Emergency Committee for the Rescue of European Jewry (a.k.a. Bergson Group), did not save anyone.
Bauer has criticized the American political scientist Daniel Goldhagen, who writes that the Holocaust was the result of the allegedly unique "eliminationist" antisemitic culture of the Germans. He has accused Goldhagen of Germanophobic racism, and of only selecting evidence which is favorable to his thesis.
While speaking to a group of visitors to Israel in 2003, Bauer stated that "What we have here between the Israelis and the Palestinians is an armed conflict - if one side becomes stronger there is a chance of genocide." When one of the visitors asked, "Am I to understand that you think Israel could commit genocide on the Palestinian people?," Bauer answered "Yes," and added, "Just two days ago, extremist settlers passed out flyers to rid Arabs from this land. Ethnic cleansing results in mass killing." Bauer also noted that opinion polls show that a high percentage of Palestinians want to get rid of Jews.
Concerning Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan, Bauer argued that the Pope meant well and tried to walk the tightrope between Arab-Palestinian-Muslim and Palestinian-Christian enmity toward Israel and the Jews on the one hand, and the collective trauma of Jews in Israel and elsewhere regarding the Holocaust on the other.
- The initial organization of the Holocaust survivors in Bavaria, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1970
- From diplomacy to Resistance: A history of Jewish Palestine. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America, 1970. Translated from Hebrew by Alton M. Winters.
- Flight and rescue: Brichah. New York: Random House, c1970
- They chose life: Jewish resistance in the Holocaust. New York: The American Jewish Committee, c1973
- Rescue operations through Vilna, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1973
- My brother's keeper: A history of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, c1974
- The Holocaust and the struggle of the Yishuv as factors in the establishment of the State of Israel. [Jerusalem]: [Yad Vashem 1976]
- Trends in Holocaust research, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1977
- The Holocaust in historical perspective. Seattle: University of Washington Press, c1978
- The Judenraete: some conclusions. [Jerusalem]: [Yad Vashem, 1979]
- The Jewish emergence from powerlessness. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1979
- The Holocaust as historical experience: Essays and a discussion, New York: Holmes & Meier, c1981
- American Jewry and the Holocaust. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee,. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1981 ISBN 0-8143-1672-7
- Jewish foreign policy during the Holocaust. New York: 1984
- Jewish survivors in DP camps and She'erith Hapletah, Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1984
- Antisemitism today: Myth and reality. Jerusalem: Hebrew University. Institute of Contemporary Jewry, 1985
- Antisemitism in Western Europe. 1988
- ed., Present-day Antisemitism: Proceedings of the Eighth International Seminar of the Study Circle on World Jewry under the auspices of the President of Israel, Chaim Herzog, Jerusalem 29–31 December 1985. Jerusalem: The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, The Hebrew University, 1988
- Out of the ashes: The impact of American Jews on post-Holocaust European Jewry. Oxford: Pergamon Press, c1989
- The mission of Joel Brand. 1989
- ed., Remembering for the future: Working papers and addenda. Oxford: Pergamon Press,c1989
- Jewish reactions to the Holocaust. Tel-Aviv: MOD Books, c1989
- Résistance et passivité juive face à l'Holocauste. 1989
- Out of the Ashes. Oxford, Pergamon Press, 1989
- Antisemitism and anti-Zionism—New and old. 1990
- World War II. 1990
- Is the Holocaust explicable? 1990
- La place d'Auschwitz dans la Shoah. 1990
- The Brichah: Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1990
- The Holocaust, religion and Jewish history. 1991
- Who was responsible and when? Some well-known documents revisited. 1991
- Holocaust and genocide. Some comparisons. 1991
- The tragedy of the Slovak Jews within the framework of Nazi policy towards the Jews in general, 1992
- Vom christlichen Judenhass zum modernen Antisemitismus—Ein Erklaerungsversuch. 1992
- On the applicability of definitions—Anti-Semitism in present-day Europe. 1993
- Antisemitism as a European and world problem. 1993
- The Wannsee "Conference" and its significance for the "Final Solution". 1993
- Antisemitism in the 1990s. 1993
- The significance of the Final Solution. 1994
- Jews for sale?: Nazi-Jewish negotiations,. New Haven: Yale University Press, October 1994
- The Impact of the Holocaust. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996
- A history of the Holocaust. New York: Franklin Watts, c1982, 2001
- Rethinking the Holocaust. Haven, Yale University, 2001
- The Jews - A Contrary People. LIT Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-643-90501-7
- "Gypsies", in Yisrael Gutman and Michael Berenbaum, eds., Anatomy of the Auschwitz death camp, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C. c1994. ISBN 0-253-32684-2
Edited conference papers
- Menachem Z. Rosensaft and Yehuda Bauer (eds.), Antisemitism: threat to Western civilization. Jerusalem: Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1989. ISBN 965-222-126-0. (Papers based on a conference held at the New York University School of Law, 27 October 1985).
- Yehuda Bauer (ed.), The danger of Antisemitism in Central and Eastern Europe in the wake of 1989-1990. Jerusalem: The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem: c1991. ISBN 965-222-242-9 (Based on a conference held October 28–29, 1990, in Jerusalem)
- Dalia Karpel 'History professor Yehuda Bauer: 'Netanyahu doesn't know history' at Haaretz 21 February 2013.
- "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1998 (in Hebrew)".
- "Recipients of Yakir Yerushalayim award (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on 2011-06-17. City of Jerusalem official website
- "Problems of Contemporary Antisemitism" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 5, 2003. Retrieved 2003-07-05.. Lecture by Yehuda Bauer, 2003. Jewish Studies at UC Santa Cruz
- Bauer, Yehuda. Interview with Amos Goldberg. 18 January 1998. 22 July 2007 
- Bauer, Yehuda. Jews for Sale? Nazi–Jewish Negotiations 1933–1945. Yale University Press, 1994, p. 72.
- Vrba, Rudolf. I Escaped from Auschwitz, Barricade Books, 2002, p. 406.
- Bauer, Yehuda Rethinking the Holocaust Yale University Press, 2000, page 5
- "Info" (PDF). www1.yadvashem.org. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2015-04-20.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Segev, Tom (November 2, 2012). "Maybe Roosevelt Couldn't Have Saved the Jews From the Nazis After All". Haaretz.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-25. Retrieved 2015-05-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Holocaust Rescue Revisited, Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs VII:3, 127-142
- Bauer, Yehuda (January–April 1997). "On Perpetrators of the Holocaust and the Public Discourse". The Jewish Quarterly Review. 87 (3/4): 346, 349. doi:10.2307/1455190. JSTOR 1455190. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
- Halpern, Orly, "Bauer: It could happen here," Haaretz, 26 February 2003
- Yehuda Bauer, "The Pope Meant Well," Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2009
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Yehuda Bauer|
- Bio at ADL
- interview at KQED Forum January 11, 2005 (audio)
- Address to the Bundestag January 27, 1998
- 1998 Interview (PDF)
- 1993 Interview
- at Yad VaShem
- at HUJI
- Lectures at Researchchannel
- The “Final Solution” - A Bureaucratic Process or an Ideological Genocide? Excerpt from interview with Bauer
- Yehuda Bauer at Memory of Nation site.