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.)
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.
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.
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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