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GERMAN ARMY AND GENOCIDE, THE: Crimes Against War Prisoners, Jews and Other Civilians in the East, 1939-44 [Paperback]

Hamburg Institute for Social Research

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Book Description

1 Dec 1999
An astonishing visual expose of the German army's crimes in World War II.

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Amazon.com: 2.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wehrmacht Complicity in Eastern Front Genocide & War Crimes 2 April 2000
By Ralph Michael Stein - Published on Amazon.com
Through declassification of wartime documents and research into archives newly made available after the dismemberment of the Soviet bloc, far more detailed analysis of German war crimes and genocide is possible, indeed is necessary. Most studies of mobile extermination squads, the Einsatzgruppen, and the death camps emphasize the principal role of various branches of the SS in mass murder. Studies of the war on the Eastern Front have tended to focus on the herculean battles waged and the stratregy and tactics employed from the inception of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 to the 1945 fall of Berlin to the Red Army.
Generally, the German Army, the Wehrmacht, has escaped censure for the Holocaust in its earliest improvisational form and its later administratively controlled manifestation (the German Army wins no plaudits for treating Red Army prisoners according to the Geneva Convention but this seems to have greatly bothered relatively few Western historians).
This book explodes the myth that the German Army was not complicit in wholesale murder of Jews, Gypsies and anyone else targeted by the Nazi state. Comprised of very many damning photographs from a controversial exhibit in Germany and supplmented by an expert historian's analysis, "The German Army and Genocide" is not the last word on the subject but it will spur new research and force needed reappraisal of the conventional wisdom.
The controversy over the exhibit, and this book, is not over. Presentation of the exhibit in New York City has been delayed because of claims about the authenticitiy of some of the photographs and the accompanying legends. Nonetheless an increasing coterie of Holocaust and World War II scholars are finding ample evidence that the Wehrmacht not only aided the SS and the many reserve police battalions engaged in rounding up Jews and others for murder, its top field commanders knew full well what they were enabling and, in some cases, were enthusiastic albeit not very loud supporters.
The photos in this book are not easy to view. With their penchant for documentation, the Wehrmacht captured the sometimes agonised, occasionally amazed expressions of their victims just before they were murdered. This is, however, a chronicle that should be viewed by all interested in the reality of the Final Solution and the barbarity of the German onslaught into the East.
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Shocking Portfolio of Evil Incarnate In the Wehrmacht! 18 Jun 2000
By Barron Laycock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No one who views this book can any longer doubt the complicity and cooperation of the general German armed forces, or Wehrmacht, in the murderous acts of Germany's ignominious Third Reich. Literally hundreds of graphic and horrific photographs show average German soldiers shooting, hanging, bludgeoning, or otherwise mistreating, torturing, and murdering helpless civilian men, women and children during operations on the eastern front. This is a grim but necessary book.
Most surprising is the fact that the photographs were originally part of a German exhibition held in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of World War Two, and constitute a damning condemnation of the role of the average German soldier (as opposed to other specialized Waffen SS or Einsatzgruppe SS units) in visiting the whole panoply of horrors of egregious war crimes on the native populations of the subjugated countries during Operation Barbarossa. These were not crimes committed against opposing military forces, but were rather crimes committed against war prisoners, Jews, and other civilian segments of the subjugated regions.
This is, by its very nature, not an easy or pleasant book to view or read. One does so reluctantly and only in an effort to learn more about the demons that ultimately threaten each of us, as we face personal responsibility for all of our acts as individuals. The conclusion one reaches after viewing these photographs and reading the accompanying text is humbling, shocking, and intensely relevant, even though some fifty years have passed. With similar shocking events composing the headlines and bylines of contemporary news casts, the most shocking thing one realizes is that the world evidently has not yet learned from its past, as events in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, and Somalia make perfectly clear. Human life is still held in little regard, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned in the blood and hate of ethnic, tribal, or national pedigrees.
One problem with the book is that many of the photographs are small and difficult to appreciate in their full impact without a magnifying device. This, however, is a small quibble with a brave, terrible, and significant book such as this one. This is a book we should share with all those cynics who doubt that the Holocaust happened. Perhaps they can explain the hundreds of photos of ordinary German soldiers committing mayhem and murder in some clever fashion. Of course, the debate over what happened is not over. But this book and the documentation it constitutes makes understanding of the Holocaust and how it happened more possible.
9 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The right book written by the wrong people 15 July 2005
By Rebeq - Published on Amazon.com
This book is mainly based on what was called the 'Wehrmachtsausstellung' or an exhibition on war-crimes of the wehrmacht during WW II. It has to be said that meanwhile this exhibition has been partly revised after a number of court trials revealed a considerable number of untrueisms.

Yet, it is a fact that some German soldiers were involved in mass shootings of members of the communist party and jewish civilians, and for that it is a necessary book. On the other hand, a whole number of incidents simply did not occur as shown in this book, many were committed by the NKWD (later became KGB) and the Germans got blamed for it. Let me point out, this is not opinion

but things which were found out during court trials before German courts, and even former KGB members testified this.
16 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pure Apologetic Trash and Historical Rubish. 28 Mar 2007
By Nachtjager - Published on Amazon.com
Once again, German intellectuals have gone the extra mile to make themselves feel guilty about WWII. If you want a book which will assault your common sense and your vision more than any other book dealing with the Holocaust or war crimes, this is it. Herr Wagner has it right, most of the incidents portrayed in this book are photos of barbarism committed by the Russians, NOT the Germans, and are scenes the Germans came upon as they moved east. This has been proven, and most of these photos are taken from former Soviet archives.

Here are just a few of the glaring problems that bother me about this book. One series of photos spread across three pages is captioned as being some 1,800 Jews rounded up in a Russian village prior to being shot. Yet, these people are very well clothed, in many cases carrying bags, some seem downright cheerful, and most interestingly, there are only four German soldiers to be seen in any of the photos, and only one of those four has a weapon - a pistol holster on his hip. These four guys shot 1,800 Jews with one pistol?

Another photo series across two pages shows "Russian soldiers in Civilian Clothes being led away to be executed" and aludes to the point that these are not Russian soldiers at all, but innocent villagers. The problem here is, the men ARE wearing Russian uniforms! Three of them are wearing Russian officer's uniforms for pity's sake! It's now a war crime to lead POWs away at gunpoint?

There are a large number of photos of German soldiers just standing around, interacting with seemingly unbothered civilians, and in one case, HEAVEN FORBID, a German soldier is shown carrying "stolen" chickens! NO JOKE!

There are photos of partisan hangings and shootings, which no one would deny took place. There are also reprisal shootings shown in this book which are most certainly legitimate. One of the most graphic of these photo spreads shows Hungarian troops shooting a dozen partisans, however, not German soldiers. A number of the lynching photos are shown multiple times from different angles to give the impression of multiple events. I find it amazing how many innocent villagers who were lynched for no good reason happen to be wearing riding breeches and jack boots in these photos (Commisars perhaps?).

I collect WWII vintage photos, and I have many photos of German POWs under guard by American and British soldiers. I have some showing German POWs and even former Hitler Youth boys (still in HJ uniforms) digging trenches while US GI's stand over them with rifles and Thompson machine guns. If I used the logic of this particular book, I would caption these photos, "German soldiers being forced to dig their own graves before being shot." I have no idea what these guys are digging trenches for and I don't think anybody shot them. The same can be said for most photos in this book. Just because there's a photo of a Russian digging a ditch, often times photographed without a German anywhere in the picture, that doesn't mean he's digging his own grave! Give it a rest!

Then there's the problem of using the exact same photos several times in this book and captioning them as seperate incidents. One photo showing two partisans being lynched is captioned early in the book as having occured in 1941, and the exact same photo appears some fifty pages later, in a smaller format, and is captioned to be a reprisal hanging in the winter of 1944 and was "a photo found on a dead German soldier."

In short, yes, crimes were committed by the German army. Crimes are committed by every army in time of war. This book is an concerted effort to create a negative image on the Wehrmacht using very sketchy evidence and inventing facts which simply did not occur. This is a book with absolutely no credibility. If you can get this one on sale for a few bucks, it's worth it just to see how outrageous it is. As a historical record of "war crimes" or "genocide", this is a work of pure fantasy and all you have to do is look at the photos and believe your eyes to realize this.
4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this something new?? 6 April 2007
By lordhoot - Published on Amazon.com
Having read through the book and read the previous reviews, I am somewhat bemused to understand what the major fuss is all about. I think its no mystery to any well read individual on World War II that the German Army took part in host of war crimes against POWs, Jews and other civiilians. I am not talking about the SS but regular army units. None of this should be any surprise to anyone outside of novice historians of the subject.

This book reflects on that assumption, that the regular units of the German military committed war crimes and the photos showed that they did. Once more nothing truly revealing here. Problems with the photos is that while many does show German troops committing war crimes, others are more open to subjective perception. One of the reveiwers stated that the photos are rather on the small side and I agreed with him, they are terribly small and that affect their effectiveness.

As bad as the German Army were, many of the photos shows them shooting hostages or hanging paritsans if we take their word on it as the book does. While these are not politically correct methods, they are acceptable methods of warfare since the dawn of warfare. Every nation that ever fought a war uses these methods and applied them.

This book reflects on German war guilt and while that may be a noble effort, it doesn't exactly reflect the true nature of that guilt. It wasn't just those who wore the uniforms that made genocide work, but the civilians behind them who supported and aided their army to commit genocide. To commit genocide on a scale that Germany tried during World War II take more then an army, it takes a society, a national effort. To blamed it on the German Army as a whole, is simplistic cop-out.

Small as the photographs were, I found them pretty interesting and somewhat depressing that man can be reduced to such a state of brutality and casual hate.

Three stars is all I can give this book because it doesn't really state the true nature of the crimes. First the book doesn't say anything new here. Knowledgable readers already knows that the regular German Army committed host of war crimes outside of what the SS units have done. The photos are too small to be really effective and they are often open to conjecture on what the truth may actually be. Some are more effective then others, photos of mass execution of women and children however proves to be few and in-between here. The book shouldn't be read by novices as they may be misled into a wrong assumption.
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