Wendy Lower's stunning account of the role of German women on the Eastern Front - not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but as actual killers - powerfully revises history. Many young nurses, teachers, secretaries, and wives saw the emerging Nazi empire as a kind of "Wild East" of opportunity, yet they could not have imagined what they would do there.
Lower, drawing on twenty years of archival research and fieldwork on the Holocaust, access to post-Soviet documents, and interviews with German witnesses, presents compelling evidence that these women went on "shopping sprees" and romantic outings to the Jewish ghettos of Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus, and that they were present at killing-field picnics, not only providing refreshment but also taking part in the shooting of Jews. And, Lower uncovers the stories of SS wives - with children of their own - whose brutality is as chilling as any in history.
Hitler's Furies will challenge our deepest beliefs using evidence hidden for seventy years: Women can be just as brutal as men.
©2013 Wendy Lower (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
concerning WWII, the Nazi regime and the horrors of the Holocaust, I can honestly state that Wendy Lower uncovers perhaps the most neglected aspect of Hitler's reign of terror: the role of women. Sure, if one is widely read, the names Irma Grese and Ilsa Koch will have been encountered a time or two, but if you took nearly all of the histories of Nazi Germany to date, you might think that it had been almost entirely a male project. Lower points out very adroitly that this is truly a narrow view of what amounted to a cultural revolution---and that the culture in question was half female. As with literature on psychopaths, so with Nazi Germany: namely, that the evils of women have lain under the cover of more outwardly acting males, allowing, of course, the evil side of femininity to course through history almost unnoticed--and unchecked. Now, given another review, I must note that this is an academic work, and not chucked full of sexy gore, so if "meaty bits" are more your style, perhaps the film Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The SS might be more to your liking. But if you want a clear and intelligent investigation of a grossly underinvestigated aspect of WWII, this is the book for you. (I read this book on the heels of Jack El-Hai's The Nazi And The Psychiatrist and Thomas Harding's Hanns And Rudolph, and I recommend that they be taken along with this book.)
1. I grew to hate "Women willingly participate in genocide" and all of the variations of that sentence. It seemed like every paragraph stated the thesis. I get it. Stop telling me over and over. SHOW me, and get more into theories of explanations.
2. She chops up the stories. I got a lot of introductions without anything remarkable enough to keep the individuals straight by the time she picked up their stories again later. I think it would have been better to tell their stories from beginning to end.
3. When other works were referenced, they tended to only reference the work instead of giving recaps of specifics from other works. I've read a lot of the books referenced, but it would have been a lot more interesting to hear a chunk of relevance from the referenced work... Does that make sense?
There were a couple of new things here for me, and it's a fascinating premise, but I was disappointed. An older, but more intriguing read was Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich by Alison Owings. Unfortunately, it's not available on Audible.
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