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Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich (Oxford Paperbacks)
 
 

Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich (Oxford Paperbacks) [Kindle Edition]

Omer Bartov
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Review

"Insightful, stimulating, compelling, controversial. Students read it, understand it, debate it, and are edified by it."--Otto M. Nelson, Texas Tech University "Bartov's book is fascinating. It certainly flies--and flies well!--in the face of the traditional interpretation of the Wehrmacht's wartime attitudes."--D.R. Dorondo, Western Carolina University"An important new book....Rather convincingly, Bartov asserts that the savagery of war reshaped the Werhmacht in Hitler's image and that the Wermcht embraced the idea of war as a defence of civilization against 'Jewish/Bolshevik barbarism.'"--Canadian Jewish News (Toronto)"A unique interpretation of a much disputed subject."--T.E. Smuck, University of Hawaii, Hilo"Excellent study. Reflects keen insights into the links between Hitler's social revolution and the war in the East."--Ronald Smelser, University of Utah

Product Description

As the Cold War followed on the heels of the Second World War, as the Nuremburg Trials faded in the shadow of the Iron Curtain, both the Germans and the West were quick to accept the idea that Hitler's army had been no SS, no Gestapo, that it was a professional force little touched by Nazi politics. But in this compelling account Omer Bartov reveals a very different history, as he probes the experience of the average soldier to show just how thoroughly Nazi ideology permeated the army.
In Hitler's Army, Bartov focuses on the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union--where the vast majority of German troops fought--to show how the savagery of war reshaped the army in Hitler's image. Both brutalized and brutalizing, these soldiers needed to see their bitter sacrifices as noble patriotism and to justify their own atrocities by seeing their victims as subhuman. In the unprecedented ferocity and catastrophic losses of the Eastrn front, he writes, soldiers embraced the idea that the war was a defense of civilization against Jewish/Bolshevik barbarism, a war of racial survival to be waged at all costs. Bartov describes the incredible scale and destruction of the invasion of Russia in horrific detail. Even in the first months--often depicted as a time of easy victories--undermanned and ill-equipped German units were stretched to the breaking point by vast distances and bitter Soviet resistance. Facing scarce supplies and enormous casualties, the average soldier sank to ta a primitive level of existence, re-experiencing the trench warfare of World War I under the most extreme weather conditions imaginable; the fighting itself was savage, and massacres of prisoners were common. Troops looted food and supplies from civilians with wild abandon; they mercilessly wiped out villages suspected of aiding partisans. Incredible losses led to recruits being thrown together in units that once had been filled with men from the same communities, making Nazi ideology even more important as a binding force. And they were further brutalized by a military justice system that executed almost 15,000 German soldiers during the war. Bartov goes on to explore letters, diaries, military reports, and other sources, showing how widespread Hitler's views became among common fighting men--men who grew up, he reminds us, under the Nazi regime. In the end, they truly became Hitler's army.
In six years of warfare, the vast majority of German men passed through the Wehrmacht and almost every family had a relative who fought in the East. Bartov's powerful new account of how deeply Nazi ideology penetrated the army sheds new light on how deeply it penetrated the nation. Hitler's Army makes an important correction not merely to the historical record but to how we see the world today.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 486 KB
  • Print Length: 253 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0195079035
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (4 July 1991)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0057CZ560
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #564,992 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Bartov does a fine job revealing how the average German soldier thought, how the savagery of the combat combined with their own racialist attitudes towards their opponent to allow them to commit or tolerate the commission of atrocities. Bartov also describes how the vaunted mechanized Panzer army quickly bogged down into WWI-style infantry combat, and that the high rate of casualties destroyed German unit integrity. Bartov's description of German soldiers' "war tourism," including photographing mass executions of Jews, dispels myths about the "good" Germans. They may not have all been Nazis, and they were not all war criminals, but by and large they did share Hitler's racial attitudes. This accounts for their grim fanatical resistance as well as the atrocities. Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable 17 Jun 2005
Format:Paperback
Up until the 1970's the view of the Wehrmacht as by and large honourable soldiers was rarely challenged in the west.
Only in the last couple of decades have scholars like Bartov chipped away at this myth by analysing the great mass of photographs, letters and diaries that show ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers enthusiastically participating in atrocities, while documentary evidence from higher up the command chain has illustrated the degree to which the army was intimately involved at every level in genocide.
Of particular value in this respect is the Federal Republic's official history Germany in the Second World which is still being published (although the extortionate price of these volumes means you'll never see them outside of a university library).
Bartov's distinctive contribution is to not just document the degree to which the Wehrmacht was indoctrinated and behaved as Hitler's Army but to ask how this impacted on its miltary effectiveness.
While modern military historians tend to see the maintenance of small unit cohesion as central to combat effectiveness (i.e. soldiers do what they do not primarily out of patriotism or hatred of the enemy but 'for their mates'), any analysis of German casualty rates in the eastern front indicates that personnel turnover was far too fast for small unit cohesion to be maintained.
However as the fighting qualities of the Wehrmacht remained extrordinarily high right up to the end some other explanation is required.
For Bartov the key is Nazi ideology - most Germans of military age in 1943 had spent a decade undergoing intensive indoctrination and had in many if not all cases thoroughly internalised the values of the Third Reich and behaved accordingly.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a good read for swastika fetishists 27 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is one of the most important contributions to the destruction of the popular myth that the Wehrmacht was an "honorable" fighting force, entirely innocent of the crimes carried out against the "racial enemies" of the Reich. As such, it will hold little interest to readers of "camo-porn" who believe that soldiers have a morality higher than that of their nations' leaders. If your tastes run more to the "bang bang, you're dead" end of military history, this book will probably bore you. For readers interested in the causes of the Germans' mass murders and other horrifying atrocities, an important and illuminating book
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting Read 1 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I stumbled onto this book and was very pleased that I did like many people I have an interest in the German Army and its history right back to the Thirty years war period. Over that period it has been both victorious and defeated but its conduct had been no worse or better than any other peoples army the second world war showed it at its best as a combat machine but at its worst in the service of a terrible idea this book helps show that fact. History is about truth as far as it can ever be told this book tells part of the story it is for you the reader to decide how much I would highly recommend it.
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