From Daniel Goldhagen's 1996 book Hitler's Willing Executioners:
I maintain that any explanation that fails to acknowledge the actors' capacity to know and to judge, namely to understand and to have views about the significance and the morality of their actions, that fails to hold the actors' beliefs and values as central, that fails to emphasize the autonomous motivating force of Nazi ideology, particularly its central component of antisemitism, cannot possibly succeed in telling us much about why the perpetrators acted as they did.
. . .
My explanation -- which is new to the scholarly literature on the perpetrators -- is that the perpetrators, "ordinary Germans," were animated by antisemitism, by a particular type of antisemitism that led them to conclude that the Jews ought to die. The perpetrators' beliefs, their particular brand of antisemitism, though obviously not the sole source, was, I maintain, a most significant and indispensable source of the perpetrators' action and must be at the center of any explanation of them. Simply put, the perpetrators, having consulted their own convictions and morality and having judged the mass annihilation of the Jews to be right, did not want to say "no."
Tags: Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners