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Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and…

Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 2011; vuoden 2011 painos)

– tekijä: Frederick Taylor (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1588132,432 (3.65)7
British historian Taylor (The Berlin Wall) surveys the occupation policies of the Allied victors, showing a variegated picture: brutal in the Soviet zone, relatively humane in the American, British, and French sectors, but everywhere a landscape of hunger, cold, and--in German eyes--humiliation. Taylor also examines how the efforts to bring to account millions of ex-Nazi Party members were erratic, corrupt, and ineffective.… (lisätietoja)
Teoksen nimi:Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany
Kirjailijat:Frederick Taylor (Tekijä)
Info:Bloomsbury Press (2011), 480 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany (tekijä: Frederick Taylor) (2011)


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The period in German history following the Second World War is probably one of the most neglected in terms of popular history, far overshadowed by the war itself and frequently overlooked as a mere footnote to the origins of the Cold War. Yet the fascinating question remains as to why the peace following the First World War contributed to the beginnings of the Second, whilst the policies following the latter led to one of the longest periods of peace on the continent.

How the victors handled their policy of ‘unconditional surrender’, and what this entailed for occupied Germany, is the subject of Frederick Taylor’s book. It covers the final stages of the war, as the Allied and Soviet forces prepared to attack and occupy Germany proper. Military actions only play a background role in the narrative, Taylor focussing only on interactions with the civilians, including the atrocities most severely carried out on the Eastern Front, as well as retaliatory attacks by Nazi fanatics and so called ‘Werwolf’ units.

Where this book shines is in Taylor’s ability to compare and contrast the widely differing policies and practices of the occupying forces. Despite the complexity of the subject, the book highlights the differences between those directing policy and those governing forces on the ground, between those espousing punitive policies and those wishing to see a rapidly rehabilitated Germany, as well as comparing the Soviet, American, British and French zones. It becomes clear just how much of a challenge the question of denazification posed to the victors, which ostensibly remained an inflexible goal of all parties. The totalitarian nature of the Nazi Party meant that virtually no one had remained completely aloof of the system, leaving policy planners the major task of separating hardline Nazis from ‘career Nazis’, ‘muss Nazis’ or fellow travellers. Taylor treats each of the occupying zones separately, and looks at the systems put in place and measures their successes and failures, not just in terms of raw numbers weeding out devout Nazis, but also the impact of these policies on the German population, and to what extent these changes were lasting.

Unfortunately, this book has one major failing, and that lies in its title. Subtitled “The Occupation and Denazification of Germany”, there feels to be rather too much of the former and not enough of the latter to justify the name. Taylor does spend a lot of time dealing with the occupiers’ attempts to remove Nazis themselves from positions of influence in German society, but there is little to nothing on their own and subsequent German policies as regards dealing with Nazism as an ideology. There is surprisingly little on areas such as education, the media and law, and even such mundane things as the renaming of streets or the treatment of the swastika are left out. Even the Psychological Warfare Division responsible for Allied propaganda goes unmentioned in the index (albeit some of their actions are covered). Aside from this, it is also disappointing that there are virtually no comparisons to occupation and denazification policies in other countries after the Second World War, e.g. Austria or France, or similar ‘purification’ actions during other periods (Taylor mentions the de-Ba’athification policy of the Iraq War a few times, without making any direct allusions). However given the scope of the book, the omission can be understood. Finally as another commenter pointed out, it seems that someone working for the publisher decided that the book would sell better with HITLER written in large letters across the front, which is at once no doubt true, but all the same bitterly depressing.

For all this, Exorcising Hitler is an extremely well-written and well-researched account of immediate post-war Germany. No apologist, Taylor points out appalling conditions in Western POW camps, engineered through pure legal sophistry, the mass rapes and atrocities in the East, and the sufferings of refugees and ‘displaced persons’ driven from their territories and turned back from others. A potentially bewildering subject, Taylor takes the issue of denazification apart and analyses each policy and practical element in turn, comparing and contrasting the different approaches, and examining the successes and failures of the post-war occupation. The book’s epilogue ties the whole together with an excellent summary of the reactions to and effects of these policies in post-war Germany right through to the present day. ( )
  Fips | Oct 30, 2016 |
542 Nonfiction History Military History & Affairs World War II

Frederick Taylor, Exorcising Hitler. The Occupation and Denazification of Germany.

Bloomsbury Press, May 2011.

Frederick Taylor: fred@fredericktaylorhistory.com

Agents: Jane Turnbull jane@janeturnbull.co.uk; Dan Conaway http://www.writershouse.com/.
Editor: Bill Swainson http://www.bloomsbury.com/

Frederick Taylor is no stranger to fractious topics. In 2004 he published Dresden, in which he tread on a slippery slope, the controversial bombing of that city by both the RAF and USAAF on February 13, 1945. In Dresden, Taylor sought to refute the argument that the bombing was an act of such needless ferocity as to place it in the category of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

In his new book, Exorcising Hitler, Taylor continues to face down the horrors of the twentieth century. His subject is the treatment of Germans by the war’s victors from the closing months of the Second World War until 1949, when the former Allies permitted the return of German self government. This latter development was not, it should be noted, the result of a sudden outbreak of altruism among the Allies. Having digested most of Exorcising Hitler, the reader is drawn to the conclusion that the formation of two mutually hostile German nation states reflected more than anything else the unwillingness of the Allies/occupiers to expend further time and energy trying to reconcile the forest of ambiguities nurtured by Germany’s defeat. The existence of what would become known as East and West Germany, they hoped, would mitigate permanently against any revival of German power in central Europe. That their creation simultaneously would encourage political and military stability on the continent could be counted as a bonus.

It is the welter of ambiguities loosed by Germany’s final collapse that is at the heart of Exorcising Hitler. No sentient person reading Taylor’s work can avoid confronting those ambiguities. Were the German women, children and disabled veterans in their thousands existing squalidly in Germany’s bombed-out cities, among unburied corpses many times their number, victims or perpetrators? All but a small percentage of German POWs in the hands of the Red Army at the end of the war “disappeared”, never to be seen or heard from again. Most of the lucky few who returned to their homeland did so after a decade spent in the gulag. Had these men taken part in the crimes of the Nazi regime? Or were they innocent? And there were yet tens of thousands more German POWs in the custody of the western Allies at war’s end. It appears that a very high percentage of these men survived their captivity. Yet “surviving” is not the same as being well treated, and these men were most decidedly not well treated. Had they “earned” their many months of exposure to the elements, near starvation, and disease by their individual complicity in the regime’s wrongdoing, or had they simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time?

The Allied victory also brought to the surface the ticklish problem of bringing to book the former top leadership of Nazi Germany, a process fraught with ambiguity. American lawyers and the substantial moral authority of the United States were both important influences upon the so-called Nuremburg trials of major German war criminals, as well as the similar prosecutions which followed. But the American legal system of the 1940’s was more attuned to the nineteenth century than the twentieth or twenty-first, and so were its practitioners. One of these was Harlan Fiske Stone, the then presiding Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Justice Stone, a champion of judicial legitimacy and the protections provided by strict adherence to procedure, pronounced the Nuremburg proceedings a “high-grade lynching party”. That the trials were seriously undermined by ambiguity is attested by the cases against Reichmarshal Hermann Goering and Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz respectively. Although the indictment charged Goering with war crimes, it did not mention unlawful aerial bombardment, and the prosecution made no effort whatever to build a case for war crimes against the former head of the German air force in connection with attack from the air. Doenitz was convicted of war crimes for the German conduct of the war at sea, yet his plea for clemency was supported by letters from at least 100 U.S. naval officers, as well as the personal testimony of Admiral Chester Nimitz.

Exorcising Hitler is a journey through a desolated landscape, brought about by a cataclysm without parallel since the Thirty Years War. Frederick Taylor has woven together the disparate lives of people on either side of the divide between victor and defeated, and in doing so has illuminated the ambiguities that pervade life, individual and collective. ( )
  tenutter | Apr 9, 2015 |
Outstanding. Likely the best book on the Occupation I have read. Untangles the intricate diplomatic, political, and social dimensions that made DeNazification such a complex undertaking. Excellent commentary on Nuremberg Trials, the food crises, and the territorial squabbling in the post-war. ( )
  VGAHarris | Jan 19, 2015 |
Interesting discussion of the early post war occupation of Germany, and attempts at 'reeducation. ( )
  bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
4961. Exorcising Hitler The Occupation and Denazification of Germany, by Frederick Taylor (read 25 Sep 2012) This is a 2011 book by a British historian which tells well of the occupation of Germany beginning in late 1944 and completed by May 8, 1945. The account of the period from 1945 to 1947 occupies most of the book, and seems disjointed and overly anecdotal and somewhat superficial. It jumps around and does not seem well-organized. But the final chapter, telling of the course of German history from 1947 to the present, is a joy to read and makes reading the whole book seem well worthwhile ( )
1 ääni Schmerguls | Sep 25, 2012 |
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To Götz Bergander, Joachim Trenkner and Helmut Schnatz, who were born to a regime founded in war and intolerance but, along with so many others, helped to build something much, much better in its place.
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In the spring of 1945, the four major powers that had defeated Hitler's armies took an unprecedentedly drastic step: they abolished Germany's sovereign government and took direct control of its territory. (Introduction)
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British historian Taylor (The Berlin Wall) surveys the occupation policies of the Allied victors, showing a variegated picture: brutal in the Soviet zone, relatively humane in the American, British, and French sectors, but everywhere a landscape of hunger, cold, and--in German eyes--humiliation. Taylor also examines how the efforts to bring to account millions of ex-Nazi Party members were erratic, corrupt, and ineffective.

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