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Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany Paperback – 1 Mar 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408822121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408822128
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Taylor's account is unexceptionable and sometimes impressive ... There is much memorable anecdotage in this readable tale' (Max Hastings, Sunday Times)

'An engrossing account of the occupation and denazification of Germany ... a balanced and thought-provoking story' (Scotland on Sunday)

'Frederick Taylor is one of the brightest historians writing today.' (Newsweek)

'Taylor's book is popular history at its best, essential reading for anyone who is interested in the Nazis and wants to know what happened next.' (Richard Evans, New Statesman)

Book Description

The first major history of what happened in Germany immediately after World War Two

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Les Fearns on 26 Mar 2012
Format: Hardcover
After books on the wartime bombing of Dresden and the Berlin Wall, Taylor now provides a popular read on the less explored (by non-German historians at least) immediate post war history of Germany, 1945-47. The initial chapters provide a narrative of collapse and defeat including the mass movements of Germans from east to west (although not with the same degree of depth or breadth as in Giles MacDonogh: After the Reich - from the fall of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift). I was fascinated to discover that teams of economists had been working secretly within the Nazi structure under Backe (Hitler's Food Minister) and Speer planning for the economic survival of a defeated germany from 1943 onwards. The team included one Ludwig Ehrhard, later to be the architect of west Germany's economic miracle.

Where Taylor shines is when he looks at the specific occupation policies of the allies. One useful chapter examines the practical problems of denazification. An early IBM system was introduced to set up a database of suspected Nazi's - but was plagued by technical issues. It was to prove an impossibility for demobilising occupiers to denazify an entire population and Taylor chronicles how pragmatism led to this being one of the first areas handed back to German control. Another factor slowing down the process is suggested as being an underlying anti-semitism amongst the US command (especially Patton) which was reflected in a distaste for supporting and listening to DP's (Displaced persons) many of whom were Jewish survivors of the camps.

Post war zonal policy is examined individually. Much has already been written of the attitude of the Soviets in the east, less about the British and especially the French in the west.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By I. Curry VINE VOICE on 6 Dec 2011
Format: Hardcover
Frederick Taylor's latest book is subtitled `The Occupation and Denazification of Germany'. The title, `Exorcising Hitler', suggests the focus of the book will be the process of denazifying the defeated Third Reich. It was this aspect that I was most interested in as it is a subject that seems to avoid the forensic coverage that saturates anything to do with the Nazi regime.

I was therefore slightly disappointed by the balance of this book being focused on the occupation of Germany. That said, the occupation narrative is handled deftly, with Taylor focusing on the different reception of western and Soviet forces and the death throes of the Nazi regime. The Götterdämmerung of fortress cities and the assault on east Prussia contrasts with the relatively benign reception of western forces across the Rhine.
The fate of the German people and the allied occupiers from Stunde Null (Zero Hour) is even-handedly covered. Millions of Germans suffered expulsion from their homes and homelands and all Germans lived through the starving years of limited rations (albeit in a Europe similarly afflicted by lack of food).

There are interesting diversions, such as telling the story of the Werwolf brigades that threatened (and, in large part, did no more than threaten) to terrorise the occupiers after the end of the war, or plans for a Nazi national redoubt in the Alps. US State Department plans under Henry Morgenthau to revert Germany to an agrarian economy, an impossible plan that would turn the clock back to a pre-industrial age, demonstrate how things could have been even worse for the conquered nation.

I expected more coverage on the specifics of denazification - reversing the brain washing of more than eleven years of saturation propaganda.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Felix Valencia on 13 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback
The period in German history following the Second World War is probably one of the most neglected in terms of popular history, far overshadowed by the war itself and frequently overlooked as a mere footnote to the origins of the Cold War. Yet the fascinating question remains as to why the peace following the First World War contributed to the beginnings of the Second, whilst the policies following the latter led to one of the longest periods of peace on the continent.

How the victors handled their policy of 'unconditional surrender', and what this entailed for occupied Germany, is the subject of Frederick Taylor's book. His book covers the final stages of the war, as the Allied and Soviet forces prepared to attack and occupy Germany proper. Military actions only play a background role in the narrative, Taylor focussing only on interactions with the civilians, including the atrocities most severely carried out on the Eastern Front, as well as retaliatory attacks by Nazi fanatics and so called 'Werwolf' units.

Where this book shines is in Taylor's ability to compare and contrast the widely differing policies and practices of the occupying forces. Despite the complexity of the subject, the book highlights the differences between those directing policy and those governing forces on the ground, between those espousing punitive policies and those wishing to see a rapidly rehabilitated Germany, and between the Soviet, American, British and French zones. It becomes clear just how much of a challenge the question of denazification posed to the victors, which ostensibly remained an inflexible goal of all parties.
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