The History of the Holocaust: A Chronology of Quotations is unlike most books on the subject for several reasons. First, its writings are culled from a wide variety of sources, including speeches, laws, public opinion polls, diplomatic conferences, and firsthand accounts. In using such a wide variety of source material, Langer portrays the Holocaust from several perspectives and provides a well-rounded portrait of the Final Solution, as well as of the reactions of those involved and those who chose to be uninvolved. Excerpts also document the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany, beginning in 1919 with the formation of the German Workers Party- later to change its name to the National Socialist Party-through the end of the war and the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials. Party propaganda, official government documents, and media reports are drawn upon to verify the doctrines and methods of Hitler, his cohorts, and supporters. This compilation is also unique in that it does not begin with the year World War II started, or the year Hitler came to power in Germany.
It provides references from many earlier sources of anti-Semitism that helped create an atmosphere in which the Holocaust could occur. The first section, titled "Prelude," chronicles important events in the development of anti-Semitism. Included are quotations from early Christian teachings, blood libel superstitions, the Inquisition, and several criminal trials motivated by anti-Semitism, such as the Dreyfus case in France, the Beilis case in Russia, and the Leo Frank case in the United States. In the "Aftermath" section, quotes are gathered from prominent Holocaust writers and commentators, responses of the world community, and interviews with survivors and German citizens. Langer also provides a"Who's Who" section with brief descriptions of everyone quoted, and an extensive bibliography.