This text presents a history of the killing fields on the Eastern front of World War II. It is based on new material available from Russian and other Eastern European archives from Baltic countries like Latvia. The SS Einsatzgruppen were a few thousand members of the special German police force - the real rough guys, not the elite Waffen SS stags. ...Read MoreThis text presents a history of the killing fields on the Eastern front of World War II. It is based on new material available from Russian and other Eastern European archives from Baltic countries like Latvia. The SS Einsatzgruppen were a few thousand members of the special German police force - the real rough guys, not the elite Waffen SS stags. They were the men who moved in just behind the German army in conquered territory and did the dirty work of "stabilizing" the population, a euphemism for the most ruthless killing spree of the century. The furiosity of the violence in the East, the pure sadism of it, is astonishing. This book documents the planning and execution of the programme in tragic detail, filling a gap in the history of the Third Reich and explaining motives that have seemed obscure if not incomprehensible.Read Less
Rhodes? book is a must have/must read for everyone, and a necessary tool to combat the holocaust deniers who remain among us. Sadly, while it contains observations and testimony that is revealing to some extent of the dark nature lurking within all of us, it lacks what all such books lack: testimony and in-depth analysis of the day-to-day, hands-on perpetrators. These individuals escaped into the general population before the allied liberators got to the death camps. Had they been pursued and captured, we may have been able to uncover so much more regarding how otherwise normal individuals can view their neighbors as subhuman, and then exterminate them simply as a result of following orders. Other books such as Goldensohn?s ?Nuremberg Interviews,? Kogon?s ?The Theory and Practice of Hell,? and Goldhagen?s scholarly rendition of his thesis, ?Hitler?s Willing Executioners,? all fall short in the same respect. Had the allied forces approaching the camps been forewarned about what they might encounter?as they could have been?they might have approached the sites stealthily and captured some of the hands-on perpetrators?not for punishment and retribution, but for analysis and illumination.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-04-08 This is not for the squeamish. Rhodes, a Pulitzer winner for The Making of the Atomic Bomb, has pulled together a mountain of research on the mass murders of Jews perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppen special task forces organized by the SS commanders Himmler and Heydrich before the gruesome death camps industrialized the Final Solution. The catalogue of horrors, drawn not only from postwar memoirs and interrogations but also from the Nazi fanaticism for statistical detail, is profoundly appalling, even revolting: some of the malefic perpetrators were so sickened by the slaughter that Himmler set up mental hospitals and rest camps for the insufficiently sadistic. By January 1942, when the Wannsee Conference implicitly authorized the death camps, more than a million Jews crowded the killing pits, some of them later torched to conceal the massacres. Relatively few in the Nazi command structure would pay for their crimes. John J. McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, Rhodes reminds us, reduced 10 of 14 death sentences in U.S. war-crimes trials, and by 1958 all surviving Einsatzgruppen defendants had been freed. German courts were also lenient. But he also suggests that genocide is new only as a word in the dictionary: "The Final Solution...was intended to be only the first phase of a vast, megalomaniacal project of privation, enslavement, mass murder and colonization modeled on the historic colonization of North and South America and on nineteenth-century imperialism but modernized with pseudoscientific theories of eugenic restoration." Thus Rhodes holds the mirror up. 16 pages of photos and six maps not seen by PW. (May) Forecast: Rhodes's reputation and the importance of the subject guarantee major review and media coverage. But the grisly material may prevent some from actually reading this. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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