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Inside Hitler's Greece: The Experience of Occupation, 1941-44 [Paperback]

Mark Mazower
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Aug 1995
In April 1941 the German army invaded Greece, leading to four years of hideous barbarism and to a civil war that tore the country apart. Inside Hitler's Greece explores the impact of the Occupation upon the lives and values of ordinary Greeks. Drawing on a wealth of first-hand accounts and previously untapped archival sources Mark Mazower offers a vividly human picture of the experiences of resistance fighters and black marketeers, teenage German conscripts and Gestapo officers. He shows how war threw traditional family roles into question as women became breadwinners and children took up arms. The moral complexities of life under foreign rule are linked to the unfolding political tragedy that brought the civil war. The book describes the economic exploitation of Greece and the resulting famine - the disintegration of an entire society and the origins of mass resistance. It offers an unsentimental account of the realities of guerrilla life in the mountains, covering the psychological as well as the material effects of total war. But the war is also seen through German eyes: soldiers, diplomats, and SS officials speak in their own words, allowing us to understand the beliefs and values that underlay Nazi policies of violence, terror, and extermination. From staff officers like the young Kurt Waldheim to ordinary Bavarian conscripts, the German Occupation apparatus is brought to life in unprecedented detail. A world of ruined villages and stirring revolutionary utopias, abandoned Jewish homes and starving islanders - the world of Hitler's New Order - is comprehensively analyzed and set in its historical context.

Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; New edition edition (1 Aug 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300065523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300065527
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,650,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Mazower is the author of Inside Hitler's Greece, Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century, The Balkans, which won the Wolfson Prize for History, and Salonika: City of Ghosts, which won both the Runciman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. He has taught at the University of Sussex, Princeton University and Birkbeck College, University of London. He is now Professor of History at Columbia University.

Product Description


"A vivid picture of the German occupier's mind and actions ... Mazower's arguments are always fair." -- Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Fascinating ... [Mazower] succeeds in getting under the skin of the occupation ... [This book] conjures up, in vivid detail, life under an occupation that had shattered old certainties and replaced them with painful choices, cynical compromises, and hopes undercut by the daily death toll." -- Mark Almond, The Times

"Mazower's elegant prose and meticulous eye for detail cut to the heart of the nature and effects of the occupation on Greek society and political life ... With its rich historical detail, vivid accounts, its sheer scope and perceptiveness, it is a must for the professional historian and an eye-opener for the interested general reader." -- Spyros Economides, The European

"This is the first thorough account in English of almost every aspect of life in Axis-occupied Greece. It draws on a mass of material, including Greek wartime newspapers and German military archives. All of this is absorbed into a highly readable narrative and illustrated with sometimes heartbreaking contemporary photographs." -- Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph

"[A] sensitive, illuminating and richly textured account of painful, complex experience."

Richard Overy, Observer -- Richard Overy, Observer --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Mark Mazower is professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London, and author of Dark Continent. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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In April 1936, thousands of mourners packed into the narrow streets of the old port of Chania for the funeral of the great statesman Eleftherios Venizelos. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, illuminating, expert study 25 April 2002
By A Customer
It's not appreciated very well outside Greece just how brutal the German occupation was. Greek society was turned upside down in a way that no country in western Europe experienced. This is by far the best English-language study of this traumatic episode in Greek history, but it is also one of the best studies of any Nazi-occupied country in the second world war.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This brilliant book details the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Greece.

Goering told all Reich Commissioners and Military Commanders of occupied territories, "I could not care less when you say that people under your administration are dying of hunger. Let them perish so long as no German starves."

In the first year of the occupation, April 1941-April 1942, 40,000 people starved to death. The British lifted their sea blockade of Greece only in August 1942 to allow Greece to get grain from outside Europe. Greece had first asked the British government to lift the blockade in April 1941. The Red Cross estimated that 250,000 Greeks died of famine in 1941-43.

Mazower sums up, "Everywhere the hunger intensified people's alienation from the state and radicalised large sections of the population, including many white-collar workers and middle-class professionals, former bastions of the old bourgeois order, who looked in vain to the established political world in Athens for guidance and leadership in their daily struggle for survival."

He points out that the government's "efforts to keep Greece on the gold standard pushed the economy into recession .." He cites an American oil executive working in Greece who said, "The Germans are looting for all they are worth, both openly and by forcing the Greeks to sell for worthless paper marks, issued locally."

In September 1943, EAM/ELAS [National Liberation Front/Greek People's Liberation Army] got the Grand Rabbi out of Athens, which `saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of Jews'. Mazower writes, "Though the [Jewish] fugitives received support from many quarters, the outstanding role was played by EAM/ELAS, whose underground organisation was the most extensive in the country.
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By Cliff
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An excellent but harrowing history of the Greek occupation. Mazower does not whitewash any aspects. The British duplicity, the Greek collaborators, the savage mountain guerilla fighters - every aspect gets a well reasoned and excellently referenced coverage with no obvious bias. The barbarity of the Nazis however, even now some 70 years later, beggars belief. That such atrocities could be carried out without significant dissent by so many German soldiers can only sicken any decent reader.

Reading this book at a time when USA has decided to unilaterally bomb innocent civilians in IS occupied Syria in response to the beheading of 2 US citizens by the so called Islamic State shows that the Nazis terror policy of mass killing of civilians to terrorise whole populations and deter any opposition is still mainstream US policy.

It did not work for the Germans in Greece and I don't doubt it will be counter-productive to US interests in the Middle East. It will however destroy the lives of many innocent Syrians, as did the German atrocities in Greece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Mazower knows his stuff' 18 July 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent book by a historian whom I have the deapest respect for, Mark Mozower. He knows his Greece. He sheds light on the Axis occupation of Hellas. Little wonder that the Greeks have somewhat strained to Germany having suffered the greatest civilan losses of any occupied nation in WW2. Greece received insufficient reparations for the destruction of civilian property and the loss of plant and machinery. The British played no small in supporting the political forces which shaped post-war Greece, and what a sorry mess they made of it. I can also recommend his book on Salonica.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lest we forget 17 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Current generations have never understood the horror of the Nazi occupation of Greece. This book provides an opportunity to gain an appreciation of what it was really like, providing the reader has the imagination necessary to step into the shoes of oppressed majority of Greeks at that time. Mazower's book has captured the ambience of living with the dread of a visit from either the Security Battalion or the ELAS functionaries, only to be eclipsed by fear of the Nazi SiPo/SD. The full horror cannot, of course, be learned except from experience, but this book might help provide an antidote to the ravings of the presently growing extreme right wing in Greek politics if only it could be provided as reading material in Greek schools.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelatory and shocking 21 Nov 2011
By Quadnil
A visitor to Greece for nearly 20 years, I've always felt that my understanding of their recent history was lamentably deficient. All the motorway service stations in Greece seem to be full of books about the subject but I've found so few in English. This one book has opened my eyes to the brutality, the horrors, the inhumanity of the war years and what immediately followed. Perhaps all modern day Germans should read this when they are deciding whether or not it is morally correct to support Greece in its financial crisis.
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