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Marching Into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus Hardcover – 7 Jan 2014

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Beorn's meticulously researched work confronts us with Nazi crimes, up close, as they happened. It allows us to see the choices that were available to the perpetrators, and the process by which many ordinary German soldiers gradually turned into willing criminals. In this way, it helps us to understand how such crimes were possible."--Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of "War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941"

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
A solid contribution 1 Jan. 2014
By M. Pitcavage - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Waitman Wade Beorn's "Marching Into Darkness: The Wehrmacht and the Holocaust in Belarus" is a contribution to two of the more active and interesting areas of World War II scholarship in recent decades: 1) the role of the German Army (as opposed to the SS) in perpetrating atrocities and taking part in the Holocaust; and 2) the debate over how and why Germans (in general) came to do such killing. I believe this book began as a dissertation under the guidance of Christopher Browning, who has played a leading role in this second debate.

The book is not a general study of occupation policies and activities but rather essentially a set of case studies of specific killing incidents in 1941-1942 that illustrate a growing but not always planned involvement of the "Wehrmacht" (Beorn's shorthand for the German Army) in the Holocaust, from taking part in the "roundup" of Jews and others for elimination by others to eventual "pro-active" killing activities initiated by themselves. It is well-written and well-researched and the author takes the trouble to find nuance, something that not everybody who contributes to these debates actually does.

Some might find it useful to read Yitzhak Arad's The Holocaust in the Soviet Union first, for some additional information and context, but this is not truly needed.

The one weakness that the work has is not unique to this book but also exists in a number of other works that attempt to implicate the German military in the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity. This is the fact that the book strongly concentrates on Security Divisions and a few other units essentially designed for occupation duties. Units like these were a very small minority of the German military in the Soviet Union (in contrast to the "front-line" units) and someone could legitimately attempt to argue based on works like Beorn's that this speaks more to a suborning of a select subset of the German Army rather than a broad indictment of the German Army in the Soviet Union. Thus I think more attention needs to be paid by scholars in this area to units such as "normal" infantry and armored divisions in the Soviet Union to examine their role in the East.

In any case, this book is well worth getting for anybody interested in these areas.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
An Important Contribution to Scholarship about the Eastern Front- most notably about Belarus 22 Jan. 2014
By Romi Mahajan - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Even of those interested in World War 2, few would know that Belarus saw perhaps the highest mortality rate of any country. Further, that the genocidal plan for the East was carried out in heavy terms in Belarus. Even further, given the redaction of history so commonly used as a weapon in the hands of the powerful, few would know about the sheer blood lust of the Wehrmacht (not only the SS) in Belarus.

Dr. Beorn's work then comes at a very important time as layers of mythology are being peeled back by scholars all over the world. Marching Into Darkness describes a series of incidents in Belarus that culminated in the wholesale slaughter of over 1.5M people. His documentary work indicating the importance of the Mogilev Conference and the clear conflation of "Jews" with "Partisans" as a fig-leaf to carry out the Holocaust in the East are necessary reading for all WW 2 scholars.

Perhaps most important is Dr. Beorn's clear empathy with all victims of Nazism and his ability to couch the Belarus holocaust in the larger terms of the Nazi's crazed plan of domination in the East.

Very important reading. I recommend it highly.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The German Army Did Pull Some Triggers .. Not Just the SS 6 Mar. 2014
By Richard A. MacKinnon - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book shows "chapter and verse" that the German Army became complicit in the massacres of Jews. It joins just a few other histories which show all those German officials/groups who had previously claimed to have no knowledge. In the case of the Wehrmacht, everything was always blamed on the SS. A wonderful preamble to all such books is by Yale's Timothy Snyder who wrote "Bloodlands." In it we learn there is way more to the Holocaust than the death camps and gas/ovens, and much of it took place in what became Russian-occupied territories.

My only quibble with this book and one other which I recommend {"A Small Town Near Auschwitz") is that they establish their premise early-on and then proceed to beat it to death in far too much detail. Shorter books .. please.
Five Stars 30 April 2015
By HVJ - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Devastating review of real events.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
interesting read 6 Oct. 2014
By Scott Bailey - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Book tells the german army participation in the holocost. Show german units and commanders doing their part in the final solution against the jews. Book also shows the germans on operation to round up jews and other enemies deemed by the german goverment
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