nicholson baker

The Limits Of Pacifism

Novelist Nicholson Baker argues that more negotiation with Hitler might have saved Jewish lives, a view shared by few historians.

06/21/2011
Staff Writer

If there is a holy grail for pacifists—an argument that would prove, once and for all, that war is simply never a good answer—it is the case that not fighting Hitler would have done more to stop the Holocaust than fighting him. After all, even people who call themselves pacifists today often make an exception for Hitler—him, they’d fight.

Baker's essay, "Why I'm A Pacifist," came out in the May 2011 issue of Harper's.

The Holocaust and Pacifists: Would Pacifism Saved More Jews than War?

The thought seems outrageous: that pracifism, a principled objection to America's entrance into World War II, would have saved more Jews than fighting Hitler and defeating Nazism altogether.  But that is the argument that Nicolson Baker, the novelist and author of the 2008 pacifist's interpretation of the war, Human Smoke, makes in his month's Harper's.  And his case is compelling.

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