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A Very Considerable Achievement,
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This review is from: Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Hardcover)
Timothy Snyder defines the Bloodlands in today's terms as Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States, Petersburg, the western rim of the Russian Federation, and most of Poland. Between 1930 and 1945, the region saw the murder of more than 14 million people. The famine associated with farm collectivisation took more than three million lives, mostly in Ukraine. The Great Terror (/Purge/Yezhovshchina), also pre-war, took 700,000. The Nazis and Soviets then invaded Poland and the Baltic States, and both set about eliminating the educated classes; 200,000 dead. Hitler invaded the Soviet Union and starved to death a million or more Leningrad residents and three million prisoners of war. More than five million Jews living in Poland, the Baltic States and the occupied Soviet Union were shot or gassed. After the tide of war turned, the Soviets encouraged partisans to harry retreating German troops (but gave them little support) and a further half million civilians were killed in Belarus and Warsaw.
As the 700 plus entries in the bibliography of this volume demonstrate, there is a vast scholarship that falls within or overlaps this subject area. Timothy Snyder's achievement, and it is very considerable, is to bring it all together, presenting data, narrative and a selection of first-hand accounts as a coherent and digestible whole. The horror and the scale of the slaughter are hard to comprehend - staggering numbers of people rounded-up, transported, killed, and bodies disposed of in very short spaces of time, even a single day, or night. They are also hard to take, especially when a few last words reach us from a victim, such as from a child who knows she is about to be killed, and how.
But Timothy Snyder has a bigger purpose than merely to shock us. After rather more than 300 pages detailing the crimes, the last two chapters become extended essays addressing wider issues, invoking and seeking to take further the analyses of commentators such as Vasily Grossman, Hannah Arendt and Anna Akhmatova. He pleads with us not to fall into the moral trap of dismissing the Nazis or the Soviets as inhuman, for that is how they viewed the people they killed. Like their victims, they were indeed human, and we must persist in endeavouring to understand them.
One `by-product' of the book was entirely new to me and, as such, particularly interesting - Nazi plans for the newly-conquered territories post-war. Additional to total removal of the Jews (not necessarily by killing them), a large proportion of the indigenous population was to be starved to death, or terrorised into fleeing East, beyond the Urals. The rest were to be enslaved in a purely agrarian economy presided over by immigrant German farmers. Existing cities and towns were to be razed and a new network of small (German) towns established. When capitulation of the Soviet Union was not immediately achieved in autumn 1941, Generalplan Ost was largely put on hold. Jews were in any case virtually eliminated from the occupied territories and millions of Slavs starved to death, but those actions were not directly in fulfilment of the plan.
The book is well written, and there are only a couple of points where the American English might obscure the intended meaning for the user of British English. Some repetition, especially of lists of locations and numbers, suggests the book is expected to be prescribed to students one chapter at a time, and not necessarily sequentially, but the occasional re-cap can be helpful and does not become irritating. The book is well supplied with useful maps illustrating changing boundaries and the locations of key events, and well indexed.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Nov 2010 12:48:59 GMT
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Dec 2010 12:24:36 GMT
F Henwood says:
Rerevisionist, would you care to expand on your post? Pray tell, why does reporting the fact that more than 'five million jews were gassed' automatically make a book 'rubbish?'
Posted on 7 Jan 2011 10:42:48 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jan 2011 10:25:42 GMT
Rerevisionist - for starters, the reviewer clearly stated "shot or gassed". This is assuming that inattentive reading caused your doubt and hence your comment. However, if your comment it to suggest that Baby Yar or Treblinka (to take just two examples of each method of killing, one in Soviet Ukraine, another in 'General Government') never happened, that your problem is of an entirely different order...
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2011 12:14:21 GMT
Danny of Arabia says:
Given Rerevisionist doesnt believe the Holocaust ever happened it is unlikely he is quibbling about the method of execution
Posted on 7 Apr 2011 18:21:07 BDT
Mr. J. Farrington says:
Lost John has understated the numbers killed during the Purges of 37/38. The victims were in the tens of millions and not the 700,000 that he mentions.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jul 2011 22:03:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 Jul 2011 22:04:53 BDT
S. P. Jones says:
What do you expect from a man (rerevisionist)who doesn't believe that atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Who gave Arthur Butz "Hoax of the Twentieth Century" five stars and is big fan of David Irving.
In reply to an earlier post on 9 Oct 2012 16:39:39 BDT
William Podmore says:
No, Professor Michael Ellman estimated repression deaths in the USSR in 1937-38 at between 950,000 and 1.2 million. Unlike earlier writers, e.g. Robert Conquest, Ellman was able to use the corrected NKVD data to reach his figure.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Oct 2012 15:29:31 BDT
Lost John says:
Thank you for your post, William. Just to be absolutely clear in case anyone has missed an important point, the figure I quote, 700,000, is Tim Snyder's estimate of the numbers killed during The Great Terror within the area he dubs The Bloodlands. Far from being at odds with Michael Ellman's estimate, Snyder's estimate for The Bloodlands sits comfortably within Ellman's for the whole Soviet Union.
In reply to an earlier post on 8 Aug 2013 09:18:05 BDT
Chris Green says:
worth mentioning that rerevisionist is the intellectual Titan who claimed in another review that one only needs 3 books to understand the 2nd world war. At least one, and possibly all, of them were by David Irving. I think that rather tells its own story.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Oct 2013 16:04:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Oct 2013 16:09:47 BDT
Rerevisionist: You are a coward: we need to face difficult truths, otherwise we can never achieve maturity. You are being left behind by the courageous.