WSW: Author Says There's No Simple Answer for the Holocaust

Apr 15, 2015

War and Genocide Book Cover
Credit Kalamazoo College

Author Doris Bergen uses the analogy of a house on fire to explain the origins of the Holocaust. 


The University of Toronto Professor says for a building to burn down you need dry timber (anti-Semitism, hatred, social tensions). But it needs a spark (leadership, in the case of World War II Nazi leadership in Germany). Bergen says the surrounding conditions, such as the weather are also important (on going war). 

Doris Bergen
Credit Michael Rajzman

Bergen will speak Thursday night April 16th at 7:00 in Dewing Hall at Kalamazoo College. Her address is called Holocaust or Genocide? Uniqueness and Universality. Bergen told WMUK's Gordon Evans that she wants to discuss how we think about different cases of extreme violence and murder. 

"Difficult complicated events have complicated causes."

70 years ago in April of 1945, Allied forces liberated multiple concentration camps, shining more light on the atrocities committed by Nazi forces. Bergen says finding the survivors was not the end of the story. She says even after the war people had lost their families and were trying to rebuild functioning societies. 

Bergen says it's important to understand that the Holocaust happened "Step by Step." She says there is no simple answer as to why. "Difficult complicated events have complicated causes."