hits counter Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

Availability: Ready to download

History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau, produce the next Aryan generation and be a loyal cheerleader for the Führer. Then they became the Trümmerfrauen, or Rubble Women, as they cleared and tidied their ruined country to get it back on its feet. They were Germany's heroines. The few women tried and convicted after the war were History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau, produce the next Aryan generation and be a loyal cheerleader for the Führer. Then they became the Trümmerfrauen, or Rubble Women, as they cleared and tidied their ruined country to get it back on its feet. They were Germany's heroines. The few women tried and convicted after the war were simply the evil aberrations - the camp guards, the female Nazi elite - that proved this rule. However, Wendy Lower's research into the very ordinary women who went out to the Nazi Eastern Front reveals an altogether different story. For ambitious young women, the emerging Nazi empire represented a kind of Wild East of career and matrimonial opportunity. Over half a million of them set off for these new lands, where most of the worst crimes of the Reich would occur. Through the interwoven biographies of thirteen women, the reader follows the transformation of young nurses, teachers, secretaries and wives who start out in Weimar and Nazi Germany as ambitious idealists and end up as witnesses, accomplices and perpetrators of the genocide in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. Hitler's Furies presents overwhelming evidence that the women in these territories actively participated in the mass murder - and some became killers. In the case of women like Erna Petri, who brought her family to her husband's impressive Polish SS estate, we find brutality as chilling as any in history. Hitler's Furies is indelible proof that we have not known what we need to know about the role of women in the Nazi killing fields - or about how it could have been hidden for seventy years. It shows that genocide is women's business as well as men's and that, in ignoring women's culpability, we have ignored the reality of the Holocaust.


Compare

History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau, produce the next Aryan generation and be a loyal cheerleader for the Führer. Then they became the Trümmerfrauen, or Rubble Women, as they cleared and tidied their ruined country to get it back on its feet. They were Germany's heroines. The few women tried and convicted after the war were History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau, produce the next Aryan generation and be a loyal cheerleader for the Führer. Then they became the Trümmerfrauen, or Rubble Women, as they cleared and tidied their ruined country to get it back on its feet. They were Germany's heroines. The few women tried and convicted after the war were simply the evil aberrations - the camp guards, the female Nazi elite - that proved this rule. However, Wendy Lower's research into the very ordinary women who went out to the Nazi Eastern Front reveals an altogether different story. For ambitious young women, the emerging Nazi empire represented a kind of Wild East of career and matrimonial opportunity. Over half a million of them set off for these new lands, where most of the worst crimes of the Reich would occur. Through the interwoven biographies of thirteen women, the reader follows the transformation of young nurses, teachers, secretaries and wives who start out in Weimar and Nazi Germany as ambitious idealists and end up as witnesses, accomplices and perpetrators of the genocide in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. Hitler's Furies presents overwhelming evidence that the women in these territories actively participated in the mass murder - and some became killers. In the case of women like Erna Petri, who brought her family to her husband's impressive Polish SS estate, we find brutality as chilling as any in history. Hitler's Furies is indelible proof that we have not known what we need to know about the role of women in the Nazi killing fields - or about how it could have been hidden for seventy years. It shows that genocide is women's business as well as men's and that, in ignoring women's culpability, we have ignored the reality of the Holocaust.

30 review for Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    Mention “Nazi women" and “Holocaust,” and minds will fixate—at least, my mind will fixate—on the image of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS: a buxom blonde camp guard sporting decolletage, high boots and improbable jodhpurs. Wendy Lower wishes to replace that fantasy with a reality less titillating but more frightening: “Hitler's Furies” were teachers, nurses, and secretaries who dutifully carried out the day-to-day business of genocide—often with reluctance, occasionally with enthusiasm—conscious that t Mention “Nazi women" and “Holocaust,” and minds will fixate—at least, my mind will fixate—on the image of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS: a buxom blonde camp guard sporting decolletage, high boots and improbable jodhpurs. Wendy Lower wishes to replace that fantasy with a reality less titillating but more frightening: “Hitler's Furies” were teachers, nurses, and secretaries who dutifully carried out the day-to-day business of genocide—often with reluctance, occasionally with enthusiasm—conscious that they were pioneers, participants in a grand social experiment which would shape the German people for years to come. And then there were the wives of the SS, matching—and sometimes excelling—their husbands in callousness and viciousness. Much of Lower's evidence comes from the Eastern Front—Ukraine, Belarus, Western Russia—and she told me much about the Nazi attitude toward the East that I did not know. I had always thought of Hitler's Ukraine as a proving ground for the “Final Solution,” but Lower has shown me that it was much more than that. Harking back to the 14th century heyday of the Teutonic Knights and their influence beyond Poland and Lithuania, German nationalists looked upon Belarus, Ukraine and Russia as the “Wild East,” a land of faux-humans (Jews) and semi-humans (peasants of non-German stock) fated to be eliminated or dominated by the German people. They found in Karl May's novels of the taming of American West a fine example of racial and cultural domination, and thought May's hero Old Shatterhand an excellent inspiration for the new “cowboys” and “cowgirls” of the Third Reich whose mission was to transform a wilderness and fulfill Germany's “manifest destiny.” Out in the Eastern frontier of Aryan civilization, women could experiment more freely, forge a new revolutionary identity, and indulge themselves in the pettiest of vices, the greatest of crimes. Lower structures her book well. First she introduces us to a dozen women in four categories—teachers, nurses, secretaries, and wives—and then, in a series of chapters, presents them to us again in ascending order of culpability, as “Witnesses,” “Accomplices,” and “Perpetrators.” The horrors accumulate as the book progresses, and the effect on the reader grows in power. It is the details, though, that stick with me: the teacher who abandons her German-Ukrainian pupils to death and the Red Army; the nurse who euthanizes the blinded German soldier with morphine; the secretary who shouts a joyful “Heil Hitler!” when she sees the piles of the clothes of the dead from which she is allowed to choose; the SS wife who feeds the six Jewish children before she shoots them in the back of the head; the SS mistress, who, weary of shooting rabbits from her carriage, begins to fire upon the hunt's Jewish beaters instead. Still, no matter how shocking the individual incidents—and some are more shocking than these—the most frightful part finally is the normality of it all, how crime settles so comfortably into human habit that it cannot be properly distinguished or confidently recalled. What did we do that Saturday? I can no longer remember. Was it rabbits or Jews that Hermann and I hunted that day in the snow?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gil Rosenberg

    Based on the NYT's blog interview with Wendy it is clear that she, her agent and publisher sacrificed the integrity of a serious subject in rder to publish a commercial book that does not prove its marketing claims. After decades of research Wendy had a theory she sought to prove -that countless thousands of young German women participated in the the killing fields in the East. The problem is that she only has little bits and fragments of information on twelve women in the book and one full forc Based on the NYT's blog interview with Wendy it is clear that she, her agent and publisher sacrificed the integrity of a serious subject in rder to publish a commercial book that does not prove its marketing claims. After decades of research Wendy had a theory she sought to prove -that countless thousands of young German women participated in the the killing fields in the East. The problem is that she only has little bits and fragments of information on twelve women in the book and one full forced confession by the Stasi. Based on her answers (http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/201... you can plainly see that she cut the book down to size to appeal to the bottom line $$$. These days the book must be about 200 pages in order to sell well. 300+ kills sales. The book's chapters are fleshed out since she does not have enough material to support her thesis. The book really is about 100 pages- chapter 2-5. And what about her claim that she can place 500,000 German women in the East? I emailed her and her answer is that the you have to sift through the end notes to find out. Why not take a chapter and explain how she arrived at that figure? No charts no tables. How many in 1940,41 and 42? Good luck trying to figure that out from her end notes. In the back of her book Christopher R. Browning's blub states 1,500,000. Chapter 6. Why did they kill? Wendy seems not to know the answer and wastes 22 pages. And Chapter 7. What Happened to Them another 22 wasted pages. One sentence on page 197 sums it up- "The short answer is that most got away with murder." Actually they all did. Another 22 pages wasted. The intro, Chapter 1,6,7 and epilogue are just empty fillers. Can 13 women plus a few more in the end notes represent the hundreds of thousands of women who were in the East? In general society women rarely commit violence and the reality is that Nazism was a magnet for psychopaths, careerists, and profiteers. Katrin Himmler explains it best here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oU3zl... "Many were involved in crimes. Lots of men and women took part, not only in the SS and police force but in the gov't organizations, in administrative apparatus many other areas. That makes it hard to define who was a perpetrator because it was the Nazis intention to divide the responsibility among as many as possible so individuals involved could feel I'm not really responsible I was just following orders or performing menial tasks or I didn't know what was going on I was too far away that makes it difficult to define exactly what the term perpetrator involves. It is important to differentiate and look closely at each case. Perpetrators, collaborators, followers, or do we need further to differentiate to profiteers or passive supporters? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/sun... Wendy could have added the women in her end notes, other examples of women from other books and dealt more with how the state industrial apparatus of thousands of torture, labor and extermination camps within Germany's borders by 1940 were transferred to the East. Hey, but that would mean a serious 500+ page academic book. And you can't make much money from those products.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower is described as a revelatory 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 during World War II. The book claims to powerfully revise history and proves that we have ignored the reality of women as brutal killers during the Holocaust. While Lower does provide statements and references that depict women as active participants in the Holocaust rather than supportive wiv Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower is described as a revelatory 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 during World War II. The book claims to powerfully revise history and proves that we have ignored the reality of women as brutal killers during the Holocaust. While Lower does provide statements and references that depict women as active participants in the Holocaust rather than supportive wives and cheerleaders for the Nazi party the book falls far short of being the powerhouse of evidence that it claims. The main problem with this book is that it felt as though Lower is trying to force evidence to meet her theory rather than following the evidence to its own conclusion. Is there evidence that women voluntarily participated in the murders of thousands of Holocaust vicims? Yes. Is there evidence that women actively supported the Nazi Party? Yes. Is there evidence that for over 70 years that this has been hidden away, avoided, covered-up while tens of thousands of women walked free after committing major crimes against humanity? No. The problem isn’t the evidence it is the embellishment of the evidence that is the problem. The book claims that thousands, or tens of thousands, of women participated in the Holocaust as either active or passive supporters of the Nazi Party and the murders of various subsets of the population however the book itself only delves into the participation of 12 women. Lower provides a lot of figures but the support for the figures is hard to find. Readers are asked to sort through multiple pages of references and cited sources but it is not easy to do as the data mentioned by Lower and the data from the sources, at time, seem to conflict one another. In the end there are a lot of problems with this book. It has already been known that women participated in the Holocaust and women have been tried for (and found guilty) of these war crimes. The involvement of women in the Holocaust has never been ignored. While there is reason to believe that a lot was overlooked as the world tried to quickly move past these events this book is hardly revelatory. The subject is horrific, and depressing, but there is nothing that is truly a new discovery. The writing in the book is choppy and awkward. At times it feels like, during the editing process, large sections of data were removed and the two end pieces were simply pushed together without consideration for how the writing flowed or blended together. It feels as though this was originally written as a very lengthy data and statistics driven book but then edited to condense it down to a more “sellable” size. Unfortunately it is what isn’t in this book that could have made this book a better read. Overall, it’s a disappointing book about a very fascinating topic. Review by Ashley LaMar Closed the Cover

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    I recently read a historical novel that amongst other things referred to the role of women in Nazi crimes in Eastern Europe, so I wanted to read a history book on the subject. This book, through the stories of some of these women and other sources, gives us an insight into this involvement, attempting to provide a psychological explanation for their actions and for the reasons that most were not punished after the war. It may not offer anything comprehensive but it certainly does provide a usefu I recently read a historical novel that amongst other things referred to the role of women in Nazi crimes in Eastern Europe, so I wanted to read a history book on the subject. This book, through the stories of some of these women and other sources, gives us an insight into this involvement, attempting to provide a psychological explanation for their actions and for the reasons that most were not punished after the war. It may not offer anything comprehensive but it certainly does provide a useful concise reference to this topic. Διάβασα πρόσφατα ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα που μεταξύ άλλων αναφέρονταν στο ρόλο των γυναικών στα εγκλήματα των ναζί στην ανατολική Ευρώπη, όποτε ήθελα να διαβάσω ένα ιστορικό βιβλίο σχετικό με το θέμα. Αυτό το βιβλίο μέσα από τις ιστορίες κάποιων από αυτών των γυναικών και μέσα από άλλες πηγές μας δίνει μία εικόνα για αυτήν την συμμετοχή, επιχειρώντας να δώσει και μία ψυχολογική εξήγηση για τις πράξεις τους αλλά και για τους λόγους που οι περισσότερες δεν τιμωρήθηκαν μετά τον πόλεμο. Ίσως δεν προσφέρει κάτι ολοκληρωμένο αλλά σίγουρα προσφέρει μία χρήσιμη περιεκτική αναφορά σε αυτό το θέμα.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    I have many issues with this book. Where is the research?? She focuses on a few (maybe a dozen) women and draws these overarching and unsubstantiated ideas. For example, she'll say something like, "Terrible things happened in X city in Poland. How can we believe women weren't there? They were there and must have done terrible things." What?? This logic makes no sense. She'll also say, "She claims that she had no part in any terrible things but she lied." Where is the proof she lied?? Maybe she di I have many issues with this book. Where is the research?? She focuses on a few (maybe a dozen) women and draws these overarching and unsubstantiated ideas. For example, she'll say something like, "Terrible things happened in X city in Poland. How can we believe women weren't there? They were there and must have done terrible things." What?? This logic makes no sense. She'll also say, "She claims that she had no part in any terrible things but she lied." Where is the proof she lied?? Maybe she did -- I believe nazi women did terrible things -- but there needs to be PROOF for me to understand. I wanted to like this book. It seemed to take a new angle on WW2. However I prefer books with actually FACTS backed by actual research. If she did any of this, it should be in the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cate

    WARNING: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THOSE WITH A WEAK STOMACH, THE OVERLY PASSIONATE OR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18. This book has taken me a tremendously long amount of time to finish; not because it is badly written or long-winded, but because it overwhelms the reader’s emotions to such a point that you need to put it down and walk away. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, and can only be digested in small, not so easily swallowed mouthfuls. In writing this book the Author pulls on her WARNING: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THOSE WITH A WEAK STOMACH, THE OVERLY PASSIONATE OR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18. This book has taken me a tremendously long amount of time to finish; not because it is badly written or long-winded, but because it overwhelms the reader’s emotions to such a point that you need to put it down and walk away. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, and can only be digested in small, not so easily swallowed mouthfuls. In writing this book the Author pulls on her twenty years experience as an archival researcher and also things she learnt whilst out doing field work; it shows in the way the book is put together that she felt this was a part of history that needed to be told, warts and all, and covers a part of Nazi Germany that has remained untold. Through a series of detailed biographies, the Author introduces the reader to each of the “Furies” in the title; we see their simple and ordinary backgrounds, which are all relatively diverse, but all had one reason to go to the Eastern front and this was also simple; money, duty to the Reich, keeping the family together and social or political connections. Once there, however, their stories take on lives of their own and, in some cases these are very chilling and hard to comprehend in today’s society. These women came from areas of their society as diverse as nurses, secretaries and teachers, but each of the women mentioned in this book all had one thing in common, they became a part of the “Final Solution”. The Author carefully and skilfully separates the women in the book according to their level of participation in these events, whether it is as witnesses to events, indifference at what was happening or, as the reader finds in some cases, just acceptance. By direct or indirect participation, these women could, by no means, be all ‘lumped together’, as each had their own motivations for doing what they did, as chilling as they may have been. Also brought to light is the fact that while many of their male counterparts were the subject of aggressive manhunts that spanned the globe, these women were left untouched and allowed to escape any accountability for their actions by claiming ignorance. I’m not sure if they could be said to have gone on to lead ‘normal’ lives, but the latter part of this provocative and highly emotional read looks into theories that try to explain their participation in such atrocities. The banality of evil was a phrase that came to mind every time I picked up this book and read a little more of their actions. After reading this book, I felt that I am going to need some time away from my much-loved books, both fiction and non-fiction, that cover this period of our history it affected me so much. I would cautiously recommend this book to all that are interested in this period of history, but if you are going to read it you need to be aware it will move you in ways you never imagined. Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2013/10/02... This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    2.5 I loved the beginning of this book, found it very informative, appalling but informative. The author asserts that over half a million women were either involved or consciously looked way, during the Holocaust. I must be extremely naive because I had no idea the figures were that high. Than I think, how would I have reacted during this situation, when not going along could get one killed. One thing I know for sure is that I would not have picnicked on the site of a mass burial. The beginning 2.5 I loved the beginning of this book, found it very informative, appalling but informative. The author asserts that over half a million women were either involved or consciously looked way, during the Holocaust. I must be extremely naive because I had no idea the figures were that high. Than I think, how would I have reacted during this situation, when not going along could get one killed. One thing I know for sure is that I would not have picnicked on the site of a mass burial. The beginning explains the different roles women played under Hitler. Nurses, teachers, wives and yes guards. the following chapters, detailing the lives of particular women were not as fascinating. The author was often repetitive, information was related in a very academic fashion, or like a cut and paste job from a biography. Yes, the information was there but not presented in a way to draw in the reader. So one does get a very clear understanding of this subject and in the last chapter the court cases and trials left most of the women free to go on with their lives. Yes, some of the women were hunted down and punished, but most were not. I am not sure if the author proved her claims on the extensiveness of women's roles but this could be due to the choppiness of the author's writing. A fascinating subject but the style of writing was a disappointment. Do not regret reading this as I did gain more knowledge of this subject and learned a few new items as well. With all the different programs that the Third Reich was involved with, all these different components running effectively and efficiently at the same time, I often wonder what could have been accomplished if Hitler's motives had been for the good of his people, all his people.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ionia

    There have been many books, case studies and articles about the Holocaust and many of them have had a special focus but this is the first time I recall seeing an in-depth look at the roles of German women in the Nazi regime. This was a rather ambitious project, with a specific focus and I thought it was compelling. First of all, let me say that this is a tough book to read without feeling sick to your stomach. That has nothing to do with the abilities of the author of course; I didn't expect thi There have been many books, case studies and articles about the Holocaust and many of them have had a special focus but this is the first time I recall seeing an in-depth look at the roles of German women in the Nazi regime. This was a rather ambitious project, with a specific focus and I thought it was compelling. First of all, let me say that this is a tough book to read without feeling sick to your stomach. That has nothing to do with the abilities of the author of course; I didn't expect this book to be a happy walk in the park based on the subject matter--and it wasn't. The author is very honest with her audience about what she uncovered digging through various archives and learning about the daily lives and roles of these women. The atrocities they not only witnessed but also participated in are not sugar coated. They are outlined in a detailed manner in just the way she uncovered them. If you are not familiar with the many failings of human empathy and compassion that arose during this period, prepare yourself before you read. One thing that made me like this book, was that the author did not interject a lot of personal feeling into it. It's not that she was completely devoid of feeling for the period she described, but that she let the research tell the story without offering the sway of her own opinion. I appreciated this approach as it put the facts first. I was particularly interested in the section of this book that dealt with Eugenics. I had never considered before that German women may have played a larger role and for that matter that more than just the famous few, may have been involved with the ideals of the Reich and the carry out of orders from Hitler himself. I suppose, before reading this, I thought of these women as being martyrs as well. I would have said that they were forced in a situational way into taking actions to please the Nazi Regime and therefore protect their own lives and that of their families. This book was certainly eye opening to truths that I had not previously considered. This book features bios of specific women involved in the Nazi movement and really highlights the differences amongst them and the diversity found in their personalities, status and professions very well. A relatively short look into the lives of these women, this book can be digested in one sitting, yet contains a lot of information. The supportive roles of the women mentioned have been seen in other literature, but not exactly from this angle. Knowing that many of them were there by choice and shared the skewed view of the Nazi administrators was a bit of a shock. The last chapter of the book, dealing with the court trials, international law mishaps and all of the women who effectively got away with their crimes was also of particular interest. If you have a fascination with history, or simply want to learn more about a unique aspect of this important period, I would recommend reading this book. This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher and provided by Netgalley.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    I'm sorry to say that this book did not resonate with me. The premise was to prove that German women were more involved in the Holocaust than history tells us. I don't feel that the author proved that at all. Certainly there were some women who actively participated in the atrocities of the death camps and several were brought to trial after the war. The author includes them in her narrative but does not provide conclusive information about other women that she mentions or German women in genera I'm sorry to say that this book did not resonate with me. The premise was to prove that German women were more involved in the Holocaust than history tells us. I don't feel that the author proved that at all. Certainly there were some women who actively participated in the atrocities of the death camps and several were brought to trial after the war. The author includes them in her narrative but does not provide conclusive information about other women that she mentions or German women in general. Her theory that women married to SS men immediately classified them as perpetrators of war crimes is baseless. That is not to say that because the "final solution" was a major tenet of Nazism that women were not aware of the "ethnic cleansing" activities that were happening around them.....but it was part of the upbringing of young people and they did not look at it in the same way that we or history does and for the most part just ignored it as unbelievable as that seems. I am not saying that many women were not guilty by association but to brand the majority of German women as perpetrators of the Holocaust is not proven in this book. We must never forget the Holocaust but this book did not deliver what I was expecting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    This is an interesting book that (again) takes us back to the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s taking a look at "what happened". One of the most absorbing topics to come out of WW2 is the question of how entire populations could have bought into the genocide and terror of the period. The faulty science, history and religion/folklore preached by the Third Reich was accepted and indeed adopted by the majority of the population of Germany and the so called German states. Here we look at the women who This is an interesting book that (again) takes us back to the horrors of the 1930s and 1940s taking a look at "what happened". One of the most absorbing topics to come out of WW2 is the question of how entire populations could have bought into the genocide and terror of the period. The faulty science, history and religion/folklore preached by the Third Reich was accepted and indeed adopted by the majority of the population of Germany and the so called German states. Here we look at the women who were involved in the "building" of the Third Reich. Told with some detail and with short bios of some of these women the book is readable. I drop it to 3 stars only because the info-dump heavy text can get very hard to stay with at times. As I suppose must be expected the book is depressing. That said as we consider what came about to get almost an entire people to buy into the big lie(s) I think we may want to examine our own society.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    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 wer 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 dispossessing Nazi targets and actually killing them 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 in this book. 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 revenge 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.

  12. 4 out of 5

    KOMET

    This book goes a long way toward elucidating the role a number of German women played as "agents of death" in the Nazi Holocaust. Before coming to this book, I had thought that the only German women who had willingly taken part in killing Jews and other peoples regarded as "undesirables" by the Nazis were the SS auxiliaries in the concentration camps like Ravensbruck and Bergen Belsen, who acquired a reputation for brutality. But in "Hitler's Furies", the reader learns that there were also Germa This book goes a long way toward elucidating the role a number of German women played as "agents of death" in the Nazi Holocaust. Before coming to this book, I had thought that the only German women who had willingly taken part in killing Jews and other peoples regarded as "undesirables" by the Nazis were the SS auxiliaries in the concentration camps like Ravensbruck and Bergen Belsen, who acquired a reputation for brutality. But in "Hitler's Furies", the reader learns that there were also German women working in areas as diverse as nursing, teaching, and secretarial work in the East following both the conquest of Poland and Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union who were witnesses to the killings of Jews. Indeed, some, such as Erna Petri and Gertrude Segel, crossed the line and gladly engaged in murder on several occasions. What is remarkable about this story is how the role of these murderous women in the service of the Third Reich was largely hidden or ignored for close to 70 years after the Second World War. The author explains why this was allowed to happen and endeavors to inform and educate the reader about the role of women in the Third Reich, the Nazis' attitudes about women, and the postwar lives of the women who had chosen to kill in support of the Hitler regime. I'm glad to have read this book, for it gives the reader an added insight into how the Holocaust made some women willing executioners of the Final Solution.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Annensky

    It's very unfortunate that this book is so badly organized and repetitive, because Lower's research into female German participation in the Holocaust on the Eastern Front is in many ways highly valuable. Reviewers here complain that Lower's research sample of some thirteen German women enablers/accomplices/perpetrators is too small to be statistically significant or even remotely representative, but as Lower points out (at the very end of the book, when such an observation would have been so muc It's very unfortunate that this book is so badly organized and repetitive, because Lower's research into female German participation in the Holocaust on the Eastern Front is in many ways highly valuable. Reviewers here complain that Lower's research sample of some thirteen German women enablers/accomplices/perpetrators is too small to be statistically significant or even remotely representative, but as Lower points out (at the very end of the book, when such an observation would have been so much more helpful & informative in the introduction), most of our reports of Nazi women's acts of exploitation, much less violence against Jews are only known from eyewitness (i.e., Jewish survivors') accounts, and there were indeed very few Jewish eyewitnesses left on the ground in 1944-1945 in the formerly German-occupied territories of the Soviet Union, since the overwhelming majority of Jews there, some 90 percent or more, had been murdered. This brings up a second point, which Lower stresses, that German female Holocaust perpetrators aside from camp guards or euthanasia nurses were generally outside the law even in the lawless society of the Third Reich, and as such, their crimes were rarely if ever documented by the Nazi bureaucracy. Most of these women had no significant official standing in the Third Reich, i.e, they were not officers or high-ranking bureaucrats, they were not men, they were "mere" secretaries or typists or, more often than not, wives or lovers of SS officers. In other words, these women had no "official" sanction to murder so-called enemies of the Reich. Put even more baldly, if such women acted murderously they were doing so of their OWN VOLITION, a significant point, which the accused women would later protest vociferously when a handful of such cases came to trial in post-war Germany. Their lawyers (and even the judges in West Germany) generally argued that these women had acted in such a horrific way only because of the undue influence of their murderous husbands or lovers! A handy sexist argument if ever there was one... Two themes of this book most disturbed me. Firstly, the lack of justice given to Holocaust survivors in the postwar West German courts. West German judges throughout this period and well into the late 1970s generally disregarded eyewitness (i.e., Jewish survivor) testimony as unreliable, and in the absence of official (i.e., German, Nazi) documentation, found obviously guilty perpetrators not guilty and set them free. (Especially women, it seems.) I found myself sympathizing more and more with the German Holocaust survivor & diarist Victor Klemperer, who decided to remain in East Germany in part because he thought the communists (Soviet & East German alike) would be much more ruthless than the West Germans in handing out victors' justice to the perpetrators of the Final Solution. And indeed, one of the worst cases of female perpetrators, Erna Petri, in fact the only case of an alleged German female perpetrator in Lower's sample which actually ended in a life sentence for crimes against humanity, received that life sentence from an East German, not a West German court. An SS wife, Petri shot & killed in cold blood six Jewish boys (mere children between the ages of 6 and 12) who had escaped a train headed for the death camps. By way of contrast, Johanna Altvater, a German secretary on the eastern front, who according to the testimony of numerous eyewitnesses had sadistically murdered and mortally injured numerous Jewish children during her unauthorized visits to a ghetto on the borderlands of Poland & Ukraine -- was found not guilty by a West German court, because there was no official (Nazi) documentation to verify her presence at the scenes of the alleged crimes. Only and precisely because (to repeat) her visits had been unauthorized by the Nazi higher-ups, and had even shocked her (male) German compatriots & fellow murderers at the time. The second theme of this book that also perturbed me, and which I believe is insufficiently addressed by the author, is precisely that of the Nazi female perpetrators' seemingly specifically directed violence against Jewish children. While Lower does stress the "revolutionary" situation in which these young German women found themselves (because the Third Reich was a real revolution, not only politically & culturally but also morally), she does not explore in any significant depth this violent uprooting of the traditional role of the nurturing mother ascribed to German females. Were these female Nazi murderers of Jewish children consciously or unconsciously revolting against their ascribed gender role? Were they trying to emulate Nazi men (more powerful, with more status)? There are other disturbing gender-relevant accounts in this book, such as the one about the pregnant Nazi woman who struck a Jewish girl with a whip during a pogrom, and another about a Nazi wife repeatedly slamming her (empty) baby carriage into ghetto Jews in order to injure them deliberately. But in my opinion, Lower never effectively engages with such images on anything more than the most superficial, even politically safe level. So, overall, while I learned a lot from this book and I am truly grateful that it was written, I have to say that I was disappointed by it. I can only hope that Lower continues with her research and writes more (and more thoughtful) books in the future.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dachokie

    Enlightening, but Incomplete … This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book. Considering almost every facet of the Nazi era has been examined to some degree, there is a disappointing void in divulging female accountability when it comes to Nazi atrocities. With HITLER’S FURIES, Wendy Lower sheds the “hausfrau” persona so commonly associated with German women of the time and reveals the disturbing fact that many of these women actively contr Enlightening, but Incomplete … This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book. Considering almost every facet of the Nazi era has been examined to some degree, there is a disappointing void in divulging female accountability when it comes to Nazi atrocities. With HITLER’S FURIES, Wendy Lower sheds the “hausfrau” persona so commonly associated with German women of the time and reveals the disturbing fact that many of these women actively contributed to the Nazi extermination programs in Eastern Europe. Eva Braun, the female most-associated with Nazi Germany, wasn’t a member of the Nazi party and little is known of her knowledge, let alone approval or acceptance of German atrocities. Arguably, other than Braun, most would be hard-pressed to identify ANY German female of the time. Even the deeds of brutal female camp guards (Ilse Koch and Irma Grese) or Magda Goebbels’ infanticide don’t draw much attention these days. But, as Lowe points out in her book, several hundred thousand German women took advantage of the opportunities and adventures that work in German-occupied Eastern Europe presented. Answering the call were ordinary and unassuming secretaries, teachers, nurses and wives of officers/party officials. HITLER’S FURIES examines a dozen women who sought work in the “Wild East” and became cogs in the Nazi murder machine. Lower introduces each of the “furies” with detailed biographies that reveal relatively diverse and innocent backgrounds. Photos of the women portray them as simple and ordinary. The reasons for going to the occupied East were simple as well: financial gain, a sense of national duty, adventure, social/political connections or, for those who were married to Nazi officials stationed in the occupied territories, an opportunity to keep the family together. The author is careful not to simply lump all these women together as murderers and separates them according to their level of participation (indirect and direct). Some of the women are witnesses to murder and develop a sense of indifference or even acceptance. Others are aware that their menial secretarial duties include typing orders of deportation and death squad assignments but justify their level of participation as simply doing their jobs. The worst of the bunch, however, are those women who willingly participated in the killing outside the realm of any job and Lower spares nothing in detailing their shockingly cold-blooded behavior which included the killing of children. Probably the most shocking aspect of the book is that most all of these women went on to live “normal” lives after the war. While decades of aggressive global manhunts sought to bring even the lowest-leveled of their male counterparts to justice; claims of ignorance and forgetfulness proved to be enough of a defense for these women to escape any accountability. The latter portion of the book delves into theories that try to explain the reasoning for their participation in such barbarism. I found HITLER’S FURIES to be a provocative read, but I felt it was somewhat incomplete in that it merely scratches the surface of a much bigger picture. Expanded, the book has the potential to be a valuable resource/authority on the subject matter, but its brevity and scope allude to it being the published by-product of an academic assignment. Lost potential aside, the book highlights a fascinating, but forgotten/ignored aspect of the Second World War.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    "In many ways, this book is about how we fail to reckon with the past, not so much as a historical reconstruction or morality tale, but as evidence of a recurring problem in which we all share responsibility. What are the blind spots and taboos that persist in our retelling of events, in individual accounts, memoirs, and national histories? Why does this history continue to haunt us, several generations and many miles removed [...]?" (p. 200). In Hitler's Furies, author Wendy Lower follows variou "In many ways, this book is about how we fail to reckon with the past, not so much as a historical reconstruction or morality tale, but as evidence of a recurring problem in which we all share responsibility. What are the blind spots and taboos that persist in our retelling of events, in individual accounts, memoirs, and national histories? Why does this history continue to haunt us, several generations and many miles removed [...]?" (p. 200). In Hitler's Furies, author Wendy Lower follows various nurses, secretaries, and wives into the killing fields of the Eastern Front during WWII. In doing so, she tries to dispel a persistent aura of naivete and victim-hood of women who may have been just as (and in some cases more) culpable of mass killings as their male counterparts. I found myself fascinated by her discussion and analysis of fluid gender roles and expectations, especially in situations where women who were brought up with skewed senses of duty and little education suddenly found themselves wielding massive amounts of power. It's an odd way to think about sexism, isn't it, to argue that female war criminals weren't persecuted after the war, not because they didn't commit similar crimes to their male counterparts, but because the general assumption is that the women who did were ineffectual, bullied by husbands/bosses, or freaks of nature? The author introduced us to a dozen or so German women who served in the East (mostly Poland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine) in various positions and follows them through their careers and into the postwar period. She categorizes each woman as either a "witness", "accomplice", or "perpetrator" (photographs included), and I found it unnerving to at first identify with, say, the young secretary who wanted to escape her small-town life by volunteering for duty abroad, only to recoil at the blood she helped spill. This book brings up a lot of these uncomfortable "what would I have done?" type of questions, and that alone, I think, makes it a worthwhile read. My main criticism of the book is that it didn't always delve as deep, or introduce as much specific details and evidence, as I would have liked. It felt to me like a piece of serious research that was dialed back to be more accessible to a wider audience--and maybe that's a good thing--but this is one of the rare times I'd argue that more can sometimes be more. There were a few times, especially in early pages, where an interesting idea would be introduced, but then no evidence or further detail would be introduced and suddenly it would swerve into another topic (signs of over-pruning by a nervous editor, perhaps?). I ended up reading through the extensive footnotes--and wish more of the footnoted information & sources had been integrated into the text. One other thing I didn't really buy was the the statistical approach. I'm no mathematician, but to me introducing a handful of possible war criminals and then using their existence as "evidence" that there must have been a greater concentration of crimes by women is useless because the sample size is far too small, and as such can't really be representative of anything. Perhaps social histories and statistics are just as mixable as oil and water; nevertheless, I highly recommend the social history aspect of this book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    This book raises an interesting issue with regards women and history. Too often women have been written out of history altogether, or otherwise relegated to the category of 'women's history' as though the doings and deeds of women were somehow completely unrelated to the mainstream of 'regular' history. HIStory, indeed. But as Wendy Lower points out, in the case of women in Nazi Germany in particular, this patriarchal attitude has led to the whitewashing of women's roles in history and has allow This book raises an interesting issue with regards women and history. Too often women have been written out of history altogether, or otherwise relegated to the category of 'women's history' as though the doings and deeds of women were somehow completely unrelated to the mainstream of 'regular' history. HIStory, indeed. But as Wendy Lower points out, in the case of women in Nazi Germany in particular, this patriarchal attitude has led to the whitewashing of women's roles in history and has allowed the negative aspects of women's actions to go as unrecorded as the positive. When one thinks of the Holocaust, one thinks of the SS, the concentration camps, the camp commandants, the Einsatzgruppen. When one thinks of the Holocaust, one rarely thinks of it also being perpetrated by women. And yet thousands upon thousands of women played roles through the Nazi Party: secretaries managing paperwork that condemned Jews to the gas chambers; personal assistants who accompanied their bosses on Aktions and took part in the shooting; nurses who administered lethal injections to those deemed unworthy of life; teachers posted to the conquered East to instil Nazi doctrine in ethnic German children; welfare officers tasked with kidnapping children with Aryan features or blood; SS wives accompanying their husbands to Poland and Latvia, the Ukraine, Russia, shooting labourers from villa balconies. The standard response after the war was that these women knew nothing of the Holocaust, that they were just minor functionaries, paper-pushers, or they were manipulated and forced by their brutal husbands. In this revealing and frequently shocking book, Lower exposes the hollowness of these claims through a number of named examples - many were indicted after the war but few were convicted of murder or war crimes. Gender stereotypes worked in these women's favour - few of the largely male investigators and judges could imagine women acting in such a way, and the judicial insistence on relying on documentary evidence over eyewitness testimony meant that there was little 'concrete' proof against these women, since most of their roles were outside of the political and military structure that generated much of this paperwork. There was little understanding at the time of how circumstances and culture can affect behaviour in both men and women (enlightening experiments like the Stanford Prison Experiment were still decades in the future) and it was deemed unthinkable that women could act in such aggressive and brutal ways, therefore these claims could not be true. As a women, I'd like to say I find it surprisingly that we have waited so long for such a study as this one, since every other aspect of the Holocaust and the Third Reich seems to have been investigated and analysed to death - but in many ways our society is just as patriarchal now as it was in the 1940s, and these issues are still sadly neglected. One hopes Wendy Lower's book opens to the door to more studies on the role of women in Nazi Germany - true sexual equality means taking the bad with the good, after all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    When we look back to the atrocities committed by the Germans against the Jews and others during World War 2, the focus is generally on men. We know that there were women camp guards who were as sadistic and cruel as their male counterparts, but on the whole the role of women has remained hidden. In this ground-breaking and deeply chilling book, Wendy Lower demonstrates that ordinary women as well were often only too complicit in the Holocaust. Lower’s extensive research reveals that half a milli When we look back to the atrocities committed by the Germans against the Jews and others during World War 2, the focus is generally on men. We know that there were women camp guards who were as sadistic and cruel as their male counterparts, but on the whole the role of women has remained hidden. In this ground-breaking and deeply chilling book, Wendy Lower demonstrates that ordinary women as well were often only too complicit in the Holocaust. Lower’s extensive research reveals that half a million women volunteered to go to the Eastern front, where they were personally responsible for many crimes and acts of brutality. Secretaries, nurses, social workers, teachers and wives became not just witnesses but accomplices and active participants, from the secretaries who typed up the lists of victims to those who took part in the murder of innocent victims, very often children. These women, it must be stressed, were volunteers. They were genuine supporters of the regime, convinced by Nazi propaganda, and often saw joining the party as a route to social advancement and offering their services in the East a first step on the way. The Nazi regime offered ambitious young women opportunities undreamt of before the war. These were young women, on the whole. It is worth remembering that the average age of a concentration camp guard was 26 – the youngest was just 15. Few questioned what they were asked to do, and after the war few were brought to justice. This is an important book, and Lower is to be congratulated on unearthing the biographies of some of these women. Her style is perhaps a little dry and pedestrian at times, but this in no way detracts from the sheer horror of the story she tells. Just when you think you can no longer be shocked at what happened, along comes another book to demonstrate that the sheer scale of the depravity has yet to be fully exposed. Essential reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Read Gil Rosenberg's review for more detail. I have no doubt that Professor Lower is an expert in this area and this book definitely piqued my interest in reading more about the Eastern Front and the post-war trials. That said, either the book was much longer and was poorly edited (as Rosenberg suggests) or Professor Lower just did a lousy job of cutting and pasting her own research into a 200-page book that would be accessible to the lay reader. There is a tremendous amount of repetition and lot Read Gil Rosenberg's review for more detail. I have no doubt that Professor Lower is an expert in this area and this book definitely piqued my interest in reading more about the Eastern Front and the post-war trials. That said, either the book was much longer and was poorly edited (as Rosenberg suggests) or Professor Lower just did a lousy job of cutting and pasting her own research into a 200-page book that would be accessible to the lay reader. There is a tremendous amount of repetition and lots of awkward transitions. In at least three spots, there were sentences added to the end of the paragraph that seemed like they belonged somewhere else. There is also a weird mix of writing tones -- the blandly professorial mixed with a more peppy inviting style. I also felt the writer needed to spend a lot more time with the first chapter. This is a tricky chapter in a non-fiction book about a subject that a lot of people know at least a little bit about. And you can see the author struggles with this. At times she is providing very simple detail that virtually anyone picking up this kind of book would know before veering over to important (but not well-written) discussions of the source material and its weaknesses. The book does one thing very well -- builds on the canon of non-fiction suggesting that the West was way too eager to sweep the Nazi thing under the rug after the war. If the book's small page count introduces more readers to this, it will have accomplished something.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    An exceptionally well written and researched document detailing how women were swept up into the Nazi propaganda machine; from ordinary housewives and mothers to professionals and skilled workers. Initially I expected much of the book to focus on female camp guards, in reality the author only touched upon this and instead drew attention to the lesser known female perpetrators of war crimes and mass genocide. There are some truly horrific eyewitness accounts of cruelty towards the sick, mentally An exceptionally well written and researched document detailing how women were swept up into the Nazi propaganda machine; from ordinary housewives and mothers to professionals and skilled workers. Initially I expected much of the book to focus on female camp guards, in reality the author only touched upon this and instead drew attention to the lesser known female perpetrators of war crimes and mass genocide. There are some truly horrific eyewitness accounts of cruelty towards the sick, mentally ill and young children which makes for difficult reading. But as the author graciously repeats, the German woman’s role in the Holocaust should not be underestimated.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ManOfLaBook.com

    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 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. For more reviews and bookish posts please visit: http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenni

    I remember when I first read about this book, and got very excited to get my hands on a copy because 1) German history, and 2) women. It's a good take on a subject you rarely see anything written about; it's like women weren't part of history, like they did absolutely nothing during WWII. Especially when it comes to crimes and such. I liked that the author chose to focus on a few women in particular instead of making it a more and possibly vague study. The book shows how these women knew what wa I remember when I first read about this book, and got very excited to get my hands on a copy because 1) German history, and 2) women. It's a good take on a subject you rarely see anything written about; it's like women weren't part of history, like they did absolutely nothing during WWII. Especially when it comes to crimes and such. I liked that the author chose to focus on a few women in particular instead of making it a more and possibly vague study. The book shows how these women knew what was going on around them, and some of them knew exactly what they were doing when taking part in those atrocities, killing and torturing people. It's also a terrifying reminded of the mass psychosis that affected people, how they believed they were doing the right thing because the higher ups were saying so. (I must admit that while I was reading, I kept wondering what I would have done if I were in that kind of situation. It would be noble to say I'd help the innocent, fight against the government and all that, but in the end I don't know if I would have it in me. Thank God I'll hopefully never end up in a situation where I'd find out.) Basically, what I got out of this book is that the women did some extremely horrifying things, but mostly got away with it because 1) it was what everyone was doing and expected to do, and 2) they were women. There are descriptions of actions that are chilling to read, and to know that it all happened for real makes it even worse. This book is an excellent reminded that women always play a bigger part in history than people seem to think, in good and bad.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Addison

    [donated to library] Wow, this is an excellent book. It's about women's place in the genocidal machinery of Hitler's empire in eastern Europe, and how that place is almost impossible to recover, because it's the history of support staff, to whom--of course--nobody pays attention. (The audiobook reader is also excellent.) Lower tracks individual nurses, secretaries, teachers, and wives, uncovering evidence of their roles as witnesses, accomplices, and perpetrators. Concentration camp guards are not [donated to library] Wow, this is an excellent book. It's about women's place in the genocidal machinery of Hitler's empire in eastern Europe, and how that place is almost impossible to recover, because it's the history of support staff, to whom--of course--nobody pays attention. (The audiobook reader is also excellent.) Lower tracks individual nurses, secretaries, teachers, and wives, uncovering evidence of their roles as witnesses, accomplices, and perpetrators. Concentration camp guards are not the only women who participated in the Holocaust. Since I was just reading about Irma Grese in Vronsky's Women Serial Killers, it was easy to make the comparison and see that these women who killed Jews unofficially were every bit as horrendous as the Beast of Belsen. (Wikipedia tells me Grese was also known as the Hyena of Auschwitz.) But because their crimes weren't documented, and because West German courts did not consider eyewitness testimony sufficiently credible to warrant conviction (eyewitness testimony of the caliber of "I saw her pick up a child and kill it by beating it against the wall of the ghetto" or "I saw her lure children to her with candy and then shoot them in the mouth")--and because "denazification" was so woefully incomplete in Germany and Austria--most of them simply slipped away, back into anonymity. Lower's is a Herculean task, and she does it very very well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    Countless German women actively participated in the Holocaust but returned to civilian life and melted into the populace- never held accountable for their crimes against humanity. This well researched book attempts to explain why. Many who were brought to trial were acquitted. Even though courts admitted these women had committed the crimes,the social climate, Nazi culture, and pressure of the times were cited as excuses for their behavior. The climate of the post war period explains the relucta Countless German women actively participated in the Holocaust but returned to civilian life and melted into the populace- never held accountable for their crimes against humanity. This well researched book attempts to explain why. Many who were brought to trial were acquitted. Even though courts admitted these women had committed the crimes,the social climate, Nazi culture, and pressure of the times were cited as excuses for their behavior. The climate of the post war period explains the reluctance to punish women who behavior the public found hard to believe. Their cruelty and lack of mercy or compassion was often more brutal than men. In time the American Government withdrew from the process and left the search for and prosecution of war criminals to the Germans themselves. The standards for prosecution were different in different parts of Germany so that some minor perpetrators were given the death penalty, most serious crimes were simply ignored and the perpetrators set free. Excellent and informative read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    In my effort to read more non-fiction novels I reached for this one. I'm very happy I did. Although the topic is horrifying and incredibly graphic at times, it is a part of history and it's something we must learn from. The women in this novel were heartless, unimaginable monsters, yet somehow a vast majority were left unscathed. I've never specifically studied the women during the Third Reich, so this was interesting. I enjoyed this, but the last 50 pages really lagged for me, however I would r In my effort to read more non-fiction novels I reached for this one. I'm very happy I did. Although the topic is horrifying and incredibly graphic at times, it is a part of history and it's something we must learn from. The women in this novel were heartless, unimaginable monsters, yet somehow a vast majority were left unscathed. I've never specifically studied the women during the Third Reich, so this was interesting. I enjoyed this, but the last 50 pages really lagged for me, however I would recommend this novel!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    Wendy Lower is a Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College and a consultant for the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is published in Holocaust books and articles. Her short bio on the book's cover mentions her fieldwork conducted throughout Europe. It was on a field trip to the Ukraine several decades ago that the inspiration occurred to push her to search for information on the role of Nazi women, especially in relation to the extensive genocidal killing that took place in Germany's v Wendy Lower is a Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College and a consultant for the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is published in Holocaust books and articles. Her short bio on the book's cover mentions her fieldwork conducted throughout Europe. It was on a field trip to the Ukraine several decades ago that the inspiration occurred to push her to search for information on the role of Nazi women, especially in relation to the extensive genocidal killing that took place in Germany's vast occupied countries in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic Countries during World War II. From 1941 until the Germans began retreating back away from these conquered areas in 1943, the Nazi's ran a program of making these countries into new colonies for waves of Germans who would be taking advantage of the "Lebensraum", or living spaces made possible by the removal of the previous inhabitants. Since many Jews livid in these areas, the method of dealing with them was to march groups of them, of all ages, out of the towns, and shoot them by the thousands. Prior to this happening, the Jews were rounded up and placed in Ghettos created by using barbed wire to section off portions of literally hundreds of towns and villages, where they would live in squalor and fear until special killing squads known as "Einsatzgruppen" liquidated the ghettos. Much of Lower's book is based on events happening in the Ukraine, an area she describes as a horrible "Nazi playground." (p. 1). Large country estates were taken over by Nazi officials, who lived large on the agricultural bounty and with the use of slave labor from the rapidly diminishing Jewish populace. Any Nazi official could inflict punishment, even death, as they saw fit. The top of the dung heap of Nazidom was the SS, which administered the programs of arrest, detention, torture and murder. It was a common sight in towns and cities to see partisans and others hanging in public. All of the worldly possessions of the locals were available for plundering by the Nazi's. What got Lower's curiosity going was her discovery of the legions of women who accompanied this state terror apparatus eastward. The women weren't combatants, of course, but it turned out that half a million women worked for the Nazi's during those years, in the eastern countries, as school teachers, nurses, secretaries and wives of SS officials. This book is a powerful refutation of the old accepted beliefs which placed women as the victims of the war, silently suffering while their men went off to war. It's important to remember that none of these women were required as part of their positions to personally conduct themselves violently, but Lower has reported on many instances in which women actively became involved in carrying out violent acts. The fuel for this process was the ability of women to obtain, and revel in personal positions of power through their attachments to powerful men. This brought proximity to power in a state-run mechanism devoted to massive destruction. Whatever small divide there was between home or office, and the ghettos, killing fields and death camps was willingly cast aside for these women to "join the orgy of violence." (p. 6). Various, but widespread levels of culpable behavior occurred. These ranged from the office workers who routinely, knowingly processed the documents for killings or deportation to death camps for thousands of victims, and who in some cases committed violent acts with their bosses outside the office, to SS wives who did some of the killing themselves. One of these wives and mothers was reported to actually have rammed into, and killed a Jewish child while pushing her baby carriage. Which brings up an important point. Lower separates these perpetrators and enablers of genocide from the classic case of the trained female killer, such as the numerous concentration camp guards who had always been known to have committed acts of cruelty in death camps; indeed, inflicting pain and death were part of their job description.The women covered by this book were not employed as petty tyrants and were not sociopaths. The subjects of this book are women who came of age in the 1930's when the martial fervor of the new Nazi government offered a way out of ordinary, boring lives in drab villages with rigid social rules, if they were able to go to school and learn a skill needed by the government's expanding operations in new lands, or were perceptive enough to know that the growing SS, with its emphasis on racial purity, created a new social elite of eligible, upward climbing officers who were attractive to status-consious women. "Hitler's Furies" provides graphic examples of specific instances of violent depravity that demonstrate Lower's conclusion that genocide was also participated in by women, not at the margins, but directly in the midst of the overall operations. Two myths are debunked in this book. The first is a commonly believed assumption that the great mass of the German people were innocently ignorant of massive ethnic killing which was caused by a mad Chancellor in charge of a small, core group of party faithful who somehow managed to get control of the government and military. Lower shows clearly that the Holocaust could not have functioned without broad societal complicity. More specifically for the purposes of the book is the unmasking of the widespread role of women, since they comprised about half of society. It doesn't matter if that society has shown itself to be one of the most culturally advanced for centuries. Widespread genocidal involvement of citizens of both genders occurs when a populace is convinced that their survival is bound up into an "existential struggle for their existence" (p. 166) against other groups living in that society; moral codes become turned upside down and total participation by all citizens toward militarized goals become normal. The second myth is the common belief that most of the Nazi's were rounded up and brought to justice in the decades after World War II. Despite the Nurenberg Trials, the arrest and execution of Adolf Eichmann by Isreal, and the untiring Nazi-hunting efforts of Simon Wiesenthal, many former party members have now been known to have been employed by the victors' governments since the war. The successes of the American and Soviet space programs would not have been possible, for instance, without the guidance of former Nazi rocket scientists. More specific to this book, Lower has researched the fate of the individuals she has written about, and has found very little evidence of prosecution for crimes against humanity; when that prosecution has occurred, convictions have rarely occurred in German and Austrian courts. Part of the reason is gender bias, in which accused female perpetrators are not considered to have had political views similar to their murderous husbands and lovers. Prosecuting females for acts of barbarism also brought up reminders of a past that many in those two countries would like to bury. Lower also notes the societal need to ascribe traditional female roles with their association with moral ideals, thus inhibiting any desire to search out female perpetrators of state-sponsored torture and murder. Many stories of criminal involvement, as well as heroic deeds will never be available for publishing on the record. But, as the author states, continuing to unearth the facts about the past helps us to see what men and women can be made to believe in, and how they will act on the basis of those beliefs.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This book is truly groundbreaking. Twenty years ago the claim that the German Wehrmacht was innocent of crimes in the East was shattered. Professor Lower has shown in this book that many ordinary women sent East were guilty of participation in genocide. The book stays away from the usual focus of the Holocaust, the female camp guards and instead looks at nurses, secretaries and wives of officials that, through their own choice, participated in murder. The evidence is quite chilling. Professor Lowe This book is truly groundbreaking. Twenty years ago the claim that the German Wehrmacht was innocent of crimes in the East was shattered. Professor Lower has shown in this book that many ordinary women sent East were guilty of participation in genocide. The book stays away from the usual focus of the Holocaust, the female camp guards and instead looks at nurses, secretaries and wives of officials that, through their own choice, participated in murder. The evidence is quite chilling. Professor Lower focuses on about two dozen women, including a Socialist who did not involve herself in crimes, but wrote extensively to her parents about local conditions, including the mass murders. She also writes about post-war dates and the general view amongst society at the time that women could not have been perpetrators, unless they were led to their actions by a male facilitator and for that reason, got away with murder.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ghost of the Library

    Well this was a disappointment..what a blah book! Don´t get me wrong, information on the Holocaust must always be available, read, spread as far and wide as possible, to better understand what happened and how not so impossible it is to see history repeat itself...i just wish it had been done in a more precise, better structured, less vague manner than in this one. I have lost count of the number of books, movies, documentaries i read/watched over the years regarding WW2 and Nazi Germany - and i a Well this was a disappointment..what a blah book! Don´t get me wrong, information on the Holocaust must always be available, read, spread as far and wide as possible, to better understand what happened and how not so impossible it is to see history repeat itself...i just wish it had been done in a more precise, better structured, less vague manner than in this one. I have lost count of the number of books, movies, documentaries i read/watched over the years regarding WW2 and Nazi Germany - and i am the first to admit blame in sometimes erasing from my mind just what was the german women's role in all this, other than the famous 3 K ideology we were taught about in history lessons (Kinder, Küche, Kirche - Kids, Kitchen, Church)! So it was with a good deal of curiosity that i wanted to read this one, especially after been blown away by that excellent book (and movie) called The Reader - review isn't here yet, will eventually do it...eventually... Well this is ... i cant believe i am gonna say this, it sounds horrible given the topic, but this is beyond dull to read.... Probably due to the way the author chose to organize it, the book reads like a 60 minute lecture thats meant to convey only a few general concepts and ideas and make you buy whatever the speaker is selling at the end! Tons of generalizations are all neatly rolled up in the pages of the book regarding statistics, probabilities, theories, ideas, and so on, sprinkled only occasionally with examples of women that fit the categories into which the author divides her tale - witnesses, accomplices and perpetrators. There is little background information on these women that the author uses as examples of the different level of involvement and, just as the story gets "going" rhythm wise, the pace is cut by the tiny amount of exact information given - even with regards to the crimes these women witnessed/committed. To make matters worse, in my humble opinion, then the author wastes an enormous amount of time/pages on more generalizations, that sound at times tremendously apologetic - we are constantly told how difficult it was (is?) to believe women were/are capable of the type of cruelty that was committed - had me questioning at times just in what planet does a woman who works with the holocaust museum live to write this? ...Man is capable of anything and everything if properly "trained/educated"...we are nothing if not creatures of habits after all. There is some interesting information here, but i would hardly call this an in depth study on the topic like an introduction, if you can survive the way the book is structured - and that i leave to each one´s personal tastes. If you are already familiar with the topic, its safe to say you can stay clear of this one....not worth your time! - for proper information on women prisioners/guards there are better books out there - Like "Ravensbruck" by Sarah Helms - i am currently rereading it and i will post a review once i finish it. Another reason i gave it 3 stars besides the lecture factor, is the sheer amount of pages wasted on notes (48!) when compared to the total pages of the book - personally i hate notes organized this way because it makes me "dance" back and forth on the pages, so i admit to having totally ignored them - skipped pages looking for the bibliography and oh crap, its mixed in between the 40 pages of notes!....it makes no sense really....not wasting time researching anything from this one. I am sure the author meant well but clearly something here failed big time...the topic is important but i couldn't shake off the feeling of boredom while reading this..shame on me, i know....

  28. 4 out of 5

    rachel

    In college, I was taught that drawing baseless conclusions about facts as a historian or researcher is the best way to get your readers to distrust you. I had this experience with Hitler's Furies. It came at the moment when Lower describes a young boy walking past the corpse of a Jewish woman in the street two days in a row. When he tells his mother (who is not one of the known awful women profiled in this book, and for all intents and purposes, completely random) on the second day of seeing the In college, I was taught that drawing baseless conclusions about facts as a historian or researcher is the best way to get your readers to distrust you. I had this experience with Hitler's Furies. It came at the moment when Lower describes a young boy walking past the corpse of a Jewish woman in the street two days in a row. When he tells his mother (who is not one of the known awful women profiled in this book, and for all intents and purposes, completely random) on the second day of seeing the body, she reports it to the city to be cleaned up. Lower asks -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- "Did the woman object to the immorality of the dead body in the street, or was it that she did not want the sight of a dead body offending her son?" Look: the Holocaust is horrific in imagination, and somehow even more horrific in actual fact. I read this book, the known atrocities recounted in it, with a heavy heart. Johanna Altvater was a total monster. No one needs to work to convince me differently. The opportunism of many of the women in this book is unconscionable and in the case of Hitler's Furies, the facts can speak for themselves. But to imply such completely unsupported malice from the anecdote of the body in the street to reinforce an argument? You lost me there, Wendy Lower. Who knows if that woman was a Johanna Altvater or revolted deeply on a moral level? The book happens to be about an interesting topic, and that is the only reason why it has earned three stars from me. If it was dashed off and edited quickly over a year's time to raise awareness, that's one thing. But reportedly, this was 20 years in the making. It's got way too much filler, repetition, and choppiness to be the satisfying product of 20 years of research. A disappointment, ultimately. But I hope someone writes the real academic study this division of Holocaust studies deserves.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bethodology

    This seemed to be a promising book, written by a scholar and based on original documentation, on an important and interesting topic: the likely participation of a significant number of German women in inhumane Nazi efforts. However, it reads like a poorly edited series of stand-alone essays, with each chapter re-using the same argument again and again. Lower also makes the cardinal error of introducing over a dozen largely undifferentiated historical figures in one chapter and then referring bac This seemed to be a promising book, written by a scholar and based on original documentation, on an important and interesting topic: the likely participation of a significant number of German women in inhumane Nazi efforts. However, it reads like a poorly edited series of stand-alone essays, with each chapter re-using the same argument again and again. Lower also makes the cardinal error of introducing over a dozen largely undifferentiated historical figures in one chapter and then referring back to them in later chapters; it was hard to keep them straight, or frankly to care. Unlike other reviewers, I was not bothered by the small volume of source material on which she draws much larger trends. I understand that there simply may no longer exist a great deal of original documentation, and the pervasiveness of Nazi inhumanities--from restrictive laws to ghetto black markets to the over 15,000 labor, concentration, and death camps--means that many thousands of average German citizens, including women, had to be directly or passively involved. Lower does not do herself favors, however, by employing poor logic and argumentation, and occasional sensationalist rhetoric, in theorizing trends from her few points of data.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    “Hitler's Furies” examines author Wendy Lower's hypothesis that many German women participated in genocidal activities on the eastern front during World War II. To be honest, I feel bad rating this book so low, since I understand that Lower undertook many years of research in the former Soviet Union in order to provide fodder for this book. Nonetheless, I feel that “Hitler's Furies” offers only an incomplete glimpse at the topic of German women's participation in the Holocaust. For example, she “Hitler's Furies” examines author Wendy Lower's hypothesis that many German women participated in genocidal activities on the eastern front during World War II. To be honest, I feel bad rating this book so low, since I understand that Lower undertook many years of research in the former Soviet Union in order to provide fodder for this book. Nonetheless, I feel that “Hitler's Furies” offers only an incomplete glimpse at the topic of German women's participation in the Holocaust. For example, she practically glosses over the many reports of rape and other brutalities the women suffered at the hands of the Red Army immediately following WWII, events that obviously affected them in significant ways. “Hitler's Furies” focuses on the lives of thirteen German women whom are all, at least according to Lower, either witnesses, accomplices, or killers. Lower only briefly describes the milieu of Weimar Germany before digging into the events these women participated in during the war. Of course, some of these women did, in fact, commit terrible crimes. I expected more breadth and depth, as well as a more solid understanding of the role most German women played in the Holocaust, not just a select few.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.