Lucy Dawidowicz, author of a definitive study of the Nazi Holocaust and a prominent Jewish historian and scholar, died Wednesday of cancer, her publisher said. She was 75.
Her "The War Against the Jews," published in 1975, is considered a pioneering study of Nazi genocide. In it she postulates that the destruction of the Jews was central to Nazi ideology and as important to Hitler as conquering Europe.
The New York-born Dawidowicz taught Holocaust studies at Yeshiva University in New York.
Early in her career, she went to Europe where she helped Jewish survivors of World War II re-establish schools and libraries. She also recovered vast collections of books seized by the Nazis.
Ms. Dawidowicz lived in Vilna, Poland, from 1938 to 1939. There she witnessed the force of European anti-Semitism and recounted the experience in a memoir, "From That Place and Time," published last year.
In "The War Against the Jews," Ms. Dawidowicz soberly documented daily life in ghettos as well as the scientific methods of extermination used in concentration camps.
She conflicted with other historians who believed that the Holocaust evolved in response to particular circumstances, not, as she wrote, that the genocide was a basic Nazi program.
She also disagreed with historians by refusing to criticize Jews for not mounting a more effective resistance to the genocide.
She felt it morally inappropriate for those who did not face persecutions to judge those who had. And she felt that Jewish resistance was doomed to failure due to a lack of arms and an overwhelming material superiority by the Nazis.