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Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany Paperback – 1 Mar 2012
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'Taylor's account is unexceptionable and sometimes impressive ... There is much memorable anecdotage in this readable tale' (Max Hastings, Sunday Times)
'An engrossing account of the occupation and denazification of Germany ... a balanced and thought-provoking story' (Scotland on Sunday)
'Frederick Taylor is one of the brightest historians writing today.' (Newsweek)
'Taylor's book is popular history at its best, essential reading for anyone who is interested in the Nazis and wants to know what happened next.' (Richard Evans, New Statesman)
The first major history of what happened in Germany immediately after World War TwoSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The style of writing is a low jargon and easy to understand explanation, without at any point talking down to you, or sacrificing depth. This makes it both an entertaining and informative read.
This is a period of history of which I don't know a great deal, and this book toppled quite a few of my pre-conceptions. I found the information on the French sector to be a bit of an eye opener, and was disturbed by the indication that we don't yet know anything like the full extent of Soviet atrocities in the Eastern sector, whilst the epilogue with its description of the "Sleep cure" ties all the threads together perfectly.
This was a very satisfying read. Frederick Taylor is now high on my list of authors to look out for.
I was therefore slightly disappointed by the balance of this book being focused on the occupation of Germany. That said, the occupation narrative is handled deftly, with Taylor focusing on the different reception of western and Soviet forces and the death throes of the Nazi regime. The Götterdämmerung of fortress cities and the assault on east Prussia contrasts with the relatively benign reception of western forces across the Rhine.
The fate of the German people and the allied occupiers from Stunde Null (Zero Hour) is even-handedly covered. Millions of Germans suffered expulsion from their homes and homelands and all Germans lived through the starving years of limited rations (albeit in a Europe similarly afflicted by lack of food).
There are interesting diversions, such as telling the story of the Werwolf brigades that threatened (and, in large part, did no more than threaten) to terrorise the occupiers after the end of the war, or plans for a Nazi national redoubt in the Alps. US State Department plans under Henry Morgenthau to revert Germany to an agrarian economy, an impossible plan that would turn the clock back to a pre-industrial age, demonstrate how things could have been even worse for the conquered nation.
I expected more coverage on the specifics of denazification - reversing the brain washing of more than eleven years of saturation propaganda. Taylor covers the Spruchkammer (tribunals) and the infamous Fragebogen (questionnaires), but there is limited coverage of the reverse psychology and propaganda designed to induce a sense of collective guilt and responsibility.
To be comprehensive, this book would need to cover the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force's psychological campaigns and press coverage, the civilian tours of concentration camps, the destruction of any physical manifestations of Nazi rule (e.g. removal of swastikas from buildings) and changing street and place names.
On the positive side, Taylor's narrative is strong and balances the sweep of historical coverage with personal examples of the impact of occupation. He handles each four occupying powers separately, highlighting the different approaches taken by British, French, American and Soviet forces. If you are interested in the down fall of the Nazi regime and fate of the German people thereafter, this books makes a worthy addition.
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