Some Questions on Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands (2010)

What makes Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, in your mind, groundbreaking? Original? What are the book’s great strengths?

What new optic or perspective do you obtain by reading Bloodlands?

What makes Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, also, an object of controversy and a target of criticism? What are its weaknesses?

How does what Snyder writes contribute to a different understanding of Europe in the early mid-20th century and to a transformed understanding of mass state murder in the borderlands between Nazi Germany and the USSR?

How, in focusing on the geographic area between Hitler and Stalin, Nazi Germany and Soviet Union, and on imperial utopian schemes by rival tyrannies, does Bloodlands also add to our understanding of the Holocaust?

What popular misconceptions about the Nazi Holocaust does Snyder correct?

Can Snyder be accused of de-centering the Holocaust? Diminishing it? What about the Holocaust does Snyder not explain?

What might reasonably said to be omitted from Bloodlands or treated without an even hand?

Can Snyder’s Bloodlands be put to the service of those who would diminish and relativize the Nazi Holocaust, specifically those who speak today of a double genocide, who draw a broad equivalence between Nazism and Communism, and who seek to cover up the role of local participants in the Bloodlands in the mass murder of the Jews? Can it contribute to the aspirational goal of unsavory political elements who wish to replace Holocaust Remembrance Day with Red-Brown Day?

What do you make of Snyder’s efforts to comment on modernity and the Holocaust?

About Ken Waltzer

Ken Waltzer grew up in New York City and attended Harpur College of the State University of New York and Harvard University as a Graduate Prize Fellow. He has helped build James Madison College, Michigan State University's highly reputed residential college in public affairs and currently serves as director of Jewish Studies at MSU. In 2011-2012, he is the Winegarden Visiting Professor at UM-Flint.
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