'Black Earth' Explores Dangers of Misunderstanding the Holocaust

It turns out that in order to carry out something like a Final Solution, you have to first destroy state institutions. . . .

Hitler, and men and women of his generation, grew up in the late 19th century aware of what was happening in the United States [in the West]—understanding it as an example of a successful land colonization, as a successful example of wiping out native peoples and transforming a whole region. So he saw the Americans as an inspiring example of what could be done. . . .

[T]he way I think about the world today is driven by the way I think about the 1930s. Our classical way of thinking about the 1930s is that a totalitarian state got stronger and stronger and oppressed its own citizens more and more. That picture is very misleading. What actually happened is that a German state, which was powerful to start out with, was taken over by a special kind of racial institution—the Nazi Party—and then set out to spread anarchy in Eastern Europe. And it was in that zone of anarchy that the Holocaust was possible.
— Timothy Snyder