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.)
Superb, horrifying, enlightening. Written with facts at the forefront, but tears at your heart and soul that a whole country of women could embrace such hatred.
In part. To refresh my memory.
It focus on a very important aspect of what is surely one of the most horrific and therefore must-confront phenomenon in history: the Nazi attempt at world-domination and genocide. Women form half the population, and to understand their role in this is essential.According to Robert & Ruth Kempner's study "Women in Nazi Germany", cited by the author, German women were fanatical supporters who had been integrated into all aspects of the government..." They estimated 7 million indoctrinated, and that 600,000 were still dangerous at the end of the war because they were politically active and indoctrinators. But despite the alarming data they compiled, "crimal investigators and denazification courts ...concluded that women in the white-collar state machinery were not threats to postwar German society."
The author writes: "at least half a million women witnessed and contributed to the operations and terror of a genocidal war in the eastern territories. The Nazi regime mobilized a generation of young females revolutionaries who were conditioned to accept violence, to incite it, and to commit it, in defense of or as an assertion of Germany's superiority."
I would recommend buying the Kindle (or a paper) version to supplement the audiobook, as there are copious notes that are often of interest. These notes take up 40% of the Kindle edition and contain a plethora of references. The book is also useful for a better understanding of foreign names, often difficult to seize by ear even when correctly pronounced.
No. She reads well, and on the whole pronounces German words correctly.
Annette Schücking frustrating attempts to get courts to pursue war criminals.
When a German woman is executed for giving food and succor to Jewish victims.
The one reservation I have is that the author does not take into account recent research on psychopaths. Modern equipment allows an objective definition of psychopath as someone whose brain does not respond to certain types of stimuli and therefore is physiologically incapable of feelings that are the emotional underpinnings of morality. This research, unavailable to Nürnberg judges and to earlier historians and psychologists, must surely change the way we look at perpetrators of atrocities and our approach to society and moral order in general.
Very disturbing exploration of the role women played in Nazi Germany perpetrating crimes (both in the Holocaust and in the years leading up to it). Much of the more general history is fairly well known and likely familiar to anyone who has done a fair amount of WWII and Holocaust reading. Where the author adds something new to the canon is in focusing on Nazi women, and specifically those that participated in campaigns of "euthanasia" against "life unworthy of life" prior to the formal institution of the camp system, and then those that participated in the camps and in other "actions" (including moving to the east and engaging in mass killings and singular murders). The book explores the mindset of women of the time, what the 1920s and 1930s did to shape them, the motivation for joining the Nazi party, and then what made the smaller subset of women who actively participated in the most brutal aspects of the Nazi agenda different than the other women (who could often avoid the worst of the actions if they chose to). The book also chronicles what happened to the women who were known to be active participants, and how their fates differed both from their male counterparts and based on where the were tried (in the East or the West). In the end, the author makes the salient point that societal and cultural stereotypes about the nature of femininity colored the ability of people to fully grasp the involvement of some women in the horrors of the Nazis. She also makes the point that understanding what people are capable of includes taking off the blinders and assessing women the same way we assess men - fully capable of brutality and deserving of comparable responsibility and punishment.
A more comprehensive view of German women as War criminals during the Nazi Era. This goes beyond the few SS camp guards briefly sensationalized in other books. New material for me at least. Unfortunately the Author only covers a select few cases in the Eastern conquered territories. It is hard to get the scale how many German women overall were directly complicit in atrocities from these few case studies although the Author makes some estimates. This seems like an area that is mostly unexplored in the literature. Beyond the documentation problems the book covers political issues that make this a daunting task for further study. The outcome of the court cases are surprising and unsettling. The implication is that the majority of War crimes committed by both men and women under Nazi rule were unpunished. It is interesting that the East German Stasi were able to elicit both confessions and get convictions to a much greater degree than their West German counterparts. To what degree Woman were involved in atrocities remains unclear but it is more than previously thought or studied.
The author provides a careful review of the role of women as perpetrators in the Holocaust. As a researcher, she noted in the epilogue, it is far more difficult to discuss the lives of people who acted righteously. The same often died for their actions.
This reader's reaction: the disease of sin lies dormant in humanity. Germany is no different than other powers. Let us learn from history and choose love and seek redemption before another repeat.
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.
Maybe a bright spot or a decent human at least once in a while.
It was just hours of wretched descriptions of horrible human beings. And rather dry at that.
Seemed a fairly accurate description of some very interesting psychological studies.
I know there are some hard truths in this book and I appreciated them, but damn, you can't listen to it for hours straight without wanting to pull out your fingernails. The narrator was as horrible as the subject matter; dry, depressing and just plain sad. No thanks.
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