Responses to Animals in the Third Reich:
- Received "Outstanding Academic Title" award from the journal in 2000; Choice
- Published in Japanese and Czech translations;
- "Rarely does a book contribute to two fields so significantly as this one. Sax, an independent scholar and consultant to various human rights organizations, has written the first book to explore thoroughly the Nazi cult of animals. In a way, this book reads like a mystery novel, as it uncovers some of the chief paradoxes of Nazi ideology. The Nazis promoted vegetarianism and passed the most progressive anticruelty laws the world has ever known. Yet they also developed a mystical technocracy that reduced morality to the crudest version of a biological struggle for survival. They used images of animals to vilify their enemies (especially, of course, the Jews) and add to their own mystique (the 58 were portrayed as predator animals). Sax is especially insightful about the subtle ways that the Nazis parodied and plundered Christian theology. This book is a must for all collections in German history and in animal rights. It is a deep and profound reflection on the complex and perplexing ways that animals can shape human culture and politics. All readership levels." —S. H. Webb,Wabash College, Choice, May 2001;
- "At various places the book provides wonderful insights into Europe's biological and psychological enterprises as influenced by the times . . . . The book is extremely well written and offers more than a scholarly treatise on the activities of the Third Reich. It provides enough background to help the reader understand what is, for most, not understandable-- the Holocaust. To quote Sax, 'Initially devoted to reuniting humanity with the realm of animals, the Nazi regime opened a new divide between the two. The Holocaust now stands as a uniquely human phenomenon.'" Alan M. Beck, Contemporary Scoiology, vol. 31, # 1 (2002);
"In this fascinating study, Sax, an intellectual historian and author, explores the elaborate system the Nazis developed using animal symbols to characterize different types of people and in the process provides a thought-provoking commentary of man's relationship with the animal kingdom. Adapting symbolism drawn from earlier traditions--the history of these symbols is part of the narrative─the animal symbols were twisted and applied to the Nazi propaganda of their inherent superiority, while people's attitudes and relationships towards actual animals were also affected and questioned.” Book News;
"With the publication of yet another monumental biography of Hitler, Goldhagen's book Hitler's Willing Executions and Finkelstein’s response to it, one might well conclude that the effort to comprehend the Holocaust has gone just about as far as it can, and that there is nothing left to do but stand back in silent horror. Then comes Boria Sax with a totally new slant on the Nazis and their genocidal obsessions. In the chapter “The Aryan Wolf and the Jewish Dog,” he explores an aspect of Nazi ideology and policy that, to my knowledge, no one has seriously studied until now: the Nazi relationship to animals, both as mythic figures and as actual living creatures. I had come across references to Hitler's fixation on wolves in his biographies, but the authors offered no context for this fixation and tended to treat it as yet another idiosyncratic symptom of mental illness. In Sax's book, I learned for the first time of the central role that animals, especially predatory animals, played in the Nazi worldview, and how this colored their perception of Jews as "pigs" and "dogs." This is an utterly fascinating work, enriched by Sax's wide-ranging erudition, and sure to intrigue ordinary readers as well as inspiring scholars for years to come." Barbara Ehrenreich;
“Sax's book contains a great deal of food for thought, and helps us see both the banalities and the atrocities from this era in new and revealing lights. There is a great deal of material on the symbolism of blood, and some intriguing discussion of ritual animal sacrifice. Nazi regulations of how animals should and should not be slaughtered also come into focus: stockyard animals and fish had to be stunned before being killed, for example, and lobsters were not to be cooked in a slowly heated kettle, but rather plunged immediately into boiling water. Konrad Lorenz is sharply and appropriately criticized, both for his tacit endorsement of certain forms of political predation (recall that he joined the Nazi party in 1938) and his Nazi-sympathizing view that "for us, race and ethnicity are everything, the individual human being as good as nothing" (p. 22). The book should be of interest to any- one seeking to understand either the larger context of the Holocaust or the history of animal protection and abuse; one can also hope that books like this will help provoke further examination of the intertwined histories of the brutalization of humans and the treatment of animals as unfeeling objects.” Robert Proctor, Anthrozoös, vol. 14, # 2 (2002).