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Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 7. Oktober 2014

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National Book Award Finalist
National Jewish Book Award Finalist

"Disquieting . . . Ms. Lower’s book is partly the study of a youthquake . . . Earlier books about the Holocaust have offered up poster girls of brutality and atrocity . . .[Lower’s] insight is to track more mundane lives, and to argue for a vastly wider complicity."
New York Times

"Intriguing and chilling . . . feminism run amok."
Chicago Tribune

"A virtuosic feat of scholarship."
Kirkus Reviews

"Well-researched . . . As gripping and eye-opening as it is chilling."

National Book Award Finalist
National Jewish Book Award Finalist

"Disquieting . . . Ms. Lower’s book is partly the study of a youthquake . . . Earlier books about the Holocaust have offered up poster girls of brutality and atrocity . . .[Lower’s] insight is to track more mundane lives, and to argue for a vastly wider complicity."
New York Times

"Intriguing and chilling . . . feminism run amok."
Chicago Tribune

"Compelling. . . By focusing on the role of ordinary women — rather than the already notorious female concentration camp guards — Lower brings to the forefront an unexplored aspect of the Holocaust. . . Lower’s careful research proves that the capacity for indifferent cruelty is not reserved for men — it exists in all of us."
Washington Post

"A virtuosic feat of scholarship."
Kirkus Reviews

"Well-researched . . . As gripping and eye-opening as it is chilling."

"Often harrowing and even disturbing... [Hitler's Furies] shines a stark light on the ordinary women who accompanied the “ordinary men” of Christopher Browning’s landmark study."
New Statesman (UK)

"Lower sheds some much-needed light on an aspect of WWII history that has remained in the shadows for decades . . . Surprising and deeply unsettling, the book is a welcome addition to the literature on the Holocaust.”—Booklist

Hitlers Furies will be experienced and remembered as a turning point in both women’s studies and Holocaust studies.”—Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands

Hitler's Furies is the first book to follow the biographical trajectories of individual women whose youthful exuberance, loyalty to the Führer, ambition, and racism took them to the deadliest sites in German-occupied Europe. Drawing on immensely rich source material, Lower integrates women perpetrators and accomplices into the social history of the Third Reich, and illuminates them indelibly as a part of post-war East and West German memory that has been, until this book, unmined.”—Claudia Koonz, author of Mothers in the Fatherland

Hitler’s Furies is a long overdue and superb addition to the history of the Holocaust. The role of women perpetrators during the Final Solution has been too much glossed over. Lower’s book provides an important and stunning corrective. It is a significant addition to our understanding of the role of ordinary Germans in the Reich’s genocide.”—Deborah Lipstadt, author of Eichmann on Trial

“Lower shifts away from the narrow focus on the few thousand female concentration camp guards who have been at the center of previous studies of female culpability in Nazi crimes and identifies the cluster of professions—nurses, social workers, teachers, office workers—that in addition to family connections brought nearly one-half million women to the German East and into close proximity with pervasive Nazi atrocities. Through the lives of carefully-researched individuals, she captures a spectrum of career trajectories and behavior. This is a book that artfully combines the study of gender with the illumination of individual experience.”—Christopher R. Browning, author of Ordinary Men

National Book Award Finalist

"Well-researched . . . As gripping and eye-opening as it is chilling. "

"Disquieting . . . Ms. Lower’s book is partly the study of a youthquake . . . Earlier books about the Holocaust have offered up poster girls of brutality and atrocity . . .[Lower’s] insight is to track more mundane lives, and to argue for a vastly wider complicity."
New York Times

"Intriguing and chilling . . . feminism run amok."
Chicago Tribune

"A virtuosic feat of scholarship."
Kirkus Reviews


A shocking new history of the role of German women in the Holocaust, not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but as actual killers on the Eastern Front -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch .

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108 von 120 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Hard to Know 11. September 2013
Von Lita Perna - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
National Book Awards Finalists Announced Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower was chosen as a a finalist in the National Book Awards.
'The National Book Foundation announced on Wednesday the 2013 National Book Award finalists, with five nominees in each of the four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people's literature. They were winnowed down from longlists of 10. The winners will be named at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on Nov. 20.'

In the introduction to Hitler's Furies, Author Wendy Lower writes that while traveling on bad 1992 Soviet roads doing research for this book she had to stop often. You will have to stop often too, just to digest the horrors in this book.

This fact filled, exhaustively researched and detailed book divides main topics into Witnesses, Accomplices and Killers and begins with eleven names of the Main Characters.

The book ends with the sentence, "The short answer is that most got away with murder."

The author asks if youth, naiveté, a sense of adventure, dedication to Nazi ideals ambition and curiosity explains how many women got swept up in `the moment and the movement.' But, she writes that as each of these women came closer to the reality of their nation's deeds, they had to make a personal choice. This book is about the choice made by at least half a million women who witnessed and contributed to genocide.

Half a million nurses, secretaries, teachers, wives, Nazi Party activists and resettlement advisors went east. Going east was the route to success for those with ambition; those wanting to realize their ideological goals or those looking for a husband or adventure. Many volunteered to go to Poland, the Baltics and Ukraine. It was a romantic notion; a frontier adventure, where anything was possible

The author discusses teachers who ran schools and kindergartens in the east that excluded non-German children, but accepted `racially valuable' children whose parents had been shot. The children were taught Hitler's maxims about the superiority of the German race...and German songs...and proper German behavior.
Nurses were primary witnesses of the Holocaust and direct killers. In Germany they administered lethal injections, starved patients, participated in selections and escorted selected victims to gas chambers.
Beside the nurses, secretaries and office aids were the largest group of workers in the day- to- day operation of genocide, but though they were accomplices (they took dictation, `typed up orders facilitating the robbery, deportation and mass murder of Jews') they were not likely to engage in direct violence.
The author states that some of the worst female perpetrators were wives who acted out their hatred.

The stories become horrifying when Lower talks about particular cruelties by women she names.


Liselotte Meir participated in the planning of massacres and was present at shootings from 1942-43. She was in charge of the life saving stamp that decided who should be saved or killed. (She once saved her hairdresser.) She went on Sunday outings to hunt and shoot Jews.

Erna Reichmann stood before 2,000 Jews being marched to their deaths.

Vera Wohlauf was present at the liquidation of 11,000 Jews from the Miedzyrzec Podlaski ghetto where the corpses of 960 men women and children were scattered on the streets.
She was also regularly present at the market place where Jews were assembled for deportation and she walked among them, humiliating them and brandishing a whip.


Johanna Altyater's specialty was killing children, often luring them with candy. On September 16, 1942 she approached a six year old and a toddler in the Polish Volodymyr-Volynsky ghetto as if she was going to give them a treat. She lifted the toddler and slammed its head against the wall and threw the dead child at its father's feet.

Erna Petri brought terrified and hungry children into her home and fed them then lined them up in front of a ditch and shot them all.

Lisel Willhays shot Jews from her balcony.

Josefine Block held a whip and ordered Ukrainian militiamen to hurry up and kill 200 gypsies.
One time she ordered one of her husband's employees to shoot four weak Jewish girls

There were others.

There were women in elite ranks of the scientific and medical professions.
There were `desk murders'.
There were sadists.

The book explores different reasons these women participated and why they killed.
The book reveals the lies alibis and excuses of the accomplices and perpetrators.
The book tells about the trials, the sentences (few) and exonerations and follows up on these women's lives after the war.

Most of them went back to living normal lives.

You may find this book disturbing.
You may close the book and hope there is a hell for these women, a mere tip of the iceberg, and for all the thousands of others who got away with murder.

Top quality writing. Well researched. Divided into sections to make it easy to follow. Holds interest in a topic that may make you want to turn from. Worth reading.
48 von 55 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An unjustly neglected field of study 31. August 2013
Von Phelps Gates - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
A fascinating case study of a dozen women, detailing the roles they played before, during, and after the Nazi era. The women range over a broad spectrum of guilt: on one extreme are those who tried to thwart Nazi crimes (sometimes at danger to themselves), and on the other extreme are women who directly took part in cold-blooded murder. In between are those with varying degrees of guilt: secretaries who typed up lists of victims, nurses whose duty to their patients took second place to their allegiance to the regime, women who served refreshments on railway platforms to members of the Einsatzgruppen while trains of victims passed through. If the book has a weakness, it's that it concentrates on the vivid portrayal of these individuals, rather than determining what proportion of women fell into various categories of guilt: the extreme ends of the spectrum seem to be the exception rather than the rule, but it's hard to tell at this late date. One particularly interesting aspect of the book is how it contrasts the treatment of Nazis after the war in East and West Germany: the East was much more vigorous in prosecutions, for both ideological and political grounds that the author discusses in detail. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this grim period of human history.
29 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Thought Provoking Historical Book 9. Oktober 2013
Von Man of La Book - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Hitler's Furies: Ger­man Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower is a non-fiction book depict­ing the hor­rific and stun­ning roles women played in the Third Reich. Ms. Lower is an Amer­i­can his­to­rian who wrote sev­eral books about the Holo­caust, she pre­sented this new infor­ma­tion in Yad Vashem , the Holo­caust Mar­tyrs' and Heroes' Remem­brance Author­ity in Jerusalem.

""[T]he con­sen­sus in Holo­caust and geno­cide stud­ies is that the sys­tems that make mass mur­der pos­si­ble would not func­tion with­out the broad par­tic­i­pa­tion of soci­ety, and yet nearly all his­to­ries of the Holo­caust leave out half of those who pop­u­lated that soci­ety, as if women's his­tory hap­pens some­where else."

I always find books about the col­lec­tive psy­chol­ogy of Ger­mans dur­ing World War II fas­ci­nat­ing. Why would any­one allow such geno­cide to hap­pen? What were they think­ing? How could they turn a blind eye to such cru­elty? How could peo­ple, oth­er­wise good and descent, can par­tic­i­pate in mass murder?

In her excel­lent book, Hitler's Furies: Ger­man Women in the Nazi Killing Fields author Wendy Lower brings new evi­dence about the Holo­caust as well as answer­ing some of the ques­tions above as well as shed­ding light on the role of women per­pe­tra­tors. Ms. Lower tells dis­turb­ing tales of pro­fes­sional women (nurses, sec­re­taries, etc.) who knew about, helped and or par­tic­i­pated in killings as well as those who were there as part .

The Nazi pro­pa­ganda machine not only con­di­tioned women to accept and tol­er­ate vio­lence, but also to par­tic­i­pate in it. The Third Reich not only insisted on women hon­or­ing the 3 Ks (Kinder, Küche, Kirche - chil­dren, kitchen, church), but also mobi­lized women to con­tribute to the ter­ror at home and in the occu­pied Ger­man ter­ri­to­ries either via admin­is­tra­tive work, moral sup­port (it's hard work killing hun­dreds a day and the mur­der­ers needed snacks, rest and psy­cho­log­i­cal sup­port) or active participation.

The author tells the sto­ries of Nazi moth­ers who shot, point blank, at scared Jew­ish kids who hap­pen to escape the train tak­ing them to the gas cham­bers (but she fed them first) or a house­wife of an SS offi­cer who took plea­sure in ram­ming Jews with her baby cart and bash­ing the heads of chil­dren in front of their par­ents. Women who sim­ply using their slaves as tar­get prac­tice from bal­conies or ones who used to take plea­sure at walk­ing into a Jew­ish children's hos­pi­tal in the Ghetto and throw­ing out sick kids from the third floor balcony.

The Reich's brain­wash­ing of racial purity was so suc­cess­ful many didn't ques­tion it. If you wanted a job or a pro­mo­tion you "did your duty" even if that meant mass mur­der. How­ever, this is not an excuse, in war time per­cep­tion of "right" and "wrong" get mud­died, but that usu­ally occurs on an indi­vid­ual scale, not when it comes to the assist and/or par­tic­i­pat­ing in geno­cide or a bas­tardized form of euthana­sia (killing your own sol­diers who were left men­tally or phys­i­cally injured in battle).

The author writes about the crimes and mur­ders these women com­mit­ted. Those crimes are insane, lur­ing hun­gry chil­dren over with the promise of candy only to shoot them in the mouth, bash­ing children's heads in the wall (in front of their fam­i­lies), gain­ing trust by serv­ing food and then a swift exe­cu­tion of scared, starv­ing and exhausted kids or rip­ping off limbs.
It's insane!

The author also asks impor­tant ques­tions which negates the women's claim that they "knew noth­ing". Ques­tions such as how did they miss the mass graves and smell of tens of thou­sands of corpses dur­ing their pic­nic out­ings? Who did they think the train­loads of clothes and jew­elry belong to?

The book also touches the fact that vio­lence is not a male dom­i­nated trait, we all have it but in women it comes out dif­fer­ently and the assump­tion that women won't engage in mass mur­der is wrong. This is a dan­ger­ous assump­tion, as the author points out because "min­i­miz­ing the vio­lent behav­ior of women cre­ates a false shield" by assum­ing that one half of the human race won't mur­der the other. But given the oppor­tu­nity, women par­tic­i­pate and engaged in geno­cide just like their male counterparts.

The book ends on a somber note, after World War II the role of the women (half a mil­lion, accord­ing to the author) has been min­i­mized and almost for­got­ten. Most of the women who assisted or par­tic­i­pated in the Holo­caust went on to live their lives, dying of old age with their fam­ily around.

Dis­claimer: I got this book for free.
43 von 53 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An important study of the horrors of the Nazi war in the east 14. September 2013
Von Stanley Hauer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Most of us with an interest in World War II have read at least something about the status of women in the Third Reich. Usually it's some variation on the old formula "Kinder, Kirche, Kueche" (Children, Church, Kitchen), to which most women were supposedly bound. Then there are numerous biographies of Eva Braun, a couple about Magda Goebbels, and a few concerning other notable women of the period; then there's Anna Maria Sigmund's interesting "Die Frauen der Nazis," which mostly concerns the wives of the famous German officers of the Hitlerzeit.

Wendy Lower's new book is an entirely different sort of work. This is the story of ordinary women--tens of thousands of them perhaps--who went to work in the occupied east (Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.) to carry out the horrors of the Holocaust. They were teachers, secretaries, wives, and (most deadly of all) nurses. Lower has carried out much of her research in recently opened archives in Russia. The results are mind-numbing in their revelations. Yet again this book reminds us of the absolute impenetrability of the mentality that could kill women and children, gas Jews and euthanize mentally defectives, eliminate anyone whom they disliked. Lower attempts the usual explanations: a society with an inordinate respect for authority, an ability to dismiss people as mere rats and "other," a blind obedience to duty. But none of these rationalizations really works. It's just baffling.

The women in this book were mostly single girls who went east for opportunity and employment. In this vast space of alien populations and normless anomie, their behavior became something out of a textbook on abnormal psychology. A few examples:

* The case of Liselotte Meier, who led a life of pornographic hedonism with her lover; her Jewish slaves served "postcoital delicacies as they lay naked in bed."
* The monster Johanna Altvater, who on a rouotine trip to a Jewish ghetto came across a toddler. "She lifted the child into her arms and held it so tightly that the child screamed and wriggled. Altvater grabbed the child by the legs, held it upside down, and slammed its head against the ghetto wall as if she were banging the dust out of a small carpet. She threw the lifeless child at the feet of its father." On other days she entertained herself by visiting camp infirmaries and tossing children over the balcony onto the pavement below. (Altvater was later put on trial and acquitted.)
* Liesel Willhaus recruited Jews to build a balcony for her villa, where she stood and shot Jewish gardeners working for her below.
* Erika Ohr worked in a hospital (not with Jews but native Germans). When a number of children died, she did not know what to do with the bodies, so she hung them from hooks in the cloak room.

The whole horrible business is well summed up in a comment from Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer, quoted by Lower, "Applying terms like beastly and beastiality to the Nazis is `an insult to the animal kingdom . . . ; the behavior of the perpetrators was all too human, not inhuman.'"

This is an important book. Not easy to read because of the extremely gruesome nature of the subject, Lower's book is a valuable contribution to the literature of the Second World War. What must it be like, I have to wonder, to spend years, as Lower did, reading over and over again about these atrocities? They are difficult enough to read in this 200-page digest of her findings. Nevertheless, read this book.
16 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
How ideology trumps humanity 8. Oktober 2013
Von Maine Colonial - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Even though I've read hundreds of novels and history books about the Holocaust, Wendy Lower's study was a revelation. In a way, it shouldn't have been. Having read a lot about the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads who murdered Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and others in the east, to make room for Germany's intended rural paradise), euthanasia programs, Gestapo offices, occupation bureaucracies and other elements of the Nazi operations, I knew that there were many nurses, secretaries and wives who were part of, or associated with, those operations.

But this knowledge stayed in the back of my mind. I never really considered that this meant there were hundreds of thousands of German women who euthanized people on a regular basis, and who pushed the reams of paper dispossessing the Nazis' targets and ordering and reporting on mass murder. What I really didn't know at all was the level of direct involvement in abusing and killing Nazi targets by women sent to work in the east (or who accompanied men sent to the east).

You will not read much of anything in this book about sadistic Nazi prison guards. Lower acknowledges that's what most people think of when the subject of women involved in the Nazi killing machine comes up. But her point is that there were many, many more women who were involved in the genocide. Middle-class and upper-class women felt it was their duty to work in the genocidal bureaucracy. What's more, many bought into the propaganda about the "opportunities" in the east and headed there with ambitions of achieving a better life.

How could this happen? Lower shows us that most of these women were young; in their twenties. They'd been indoctrinated into the Nazis' racial mindset since their early youth. Women were trained in shooting and had it drummed into their heads that the life of the Aryan nation absolutely depended on eradicating the eternal Jewish and Bolshevik enemies, and subjugating the Slavs. This is an eye-opening illustration of how training could turn significant numbers of people, including women, into uncaring "desk killers" at best, and cold-blooded murderers at worst.

The horror of what Germans did during the war never leaves us, but when Lower throws a light on how the deadly Nazi ideology was able to destroy the humanity of so many women, it intensifies our dismay. It's even more disheartening to learn that even after the war ended, so many of these women never came to terms with their wrongs. They continued to feel that the Jews were a threat and that any punishment the German perpetrators faced was simply vengeful persecution. They even had the gall to claim that they were being treated worse than the Jews had been.

The narrative of this book is relatively short and readable for history, making it easily accessible, but it is supported by extensive notes for serious students of history.

I received a free review copy of this book from Netgalley.
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