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A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany

Tekijä: Monica Black

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
812327,236 (3.92)4
"In the aftermath of World War II, a succession of mass supernatural events swept through a war-torn Germany. As millions were afflicted by a host of seemingly incurable maladies (including blindness and paralysis), waves of apocalyptic rumors crashed over the land. A messianic faith healer rose to extraordinary fame, prayer groups performed exorcisms, and enormous crowds traveled to witness apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Most strikingly, scores of people accused their neighbors of witchcraft, and found themselves in turn hauled into court on charges of defamation, assault, and even murder. What linked these events, in the wake of an annihilationist war and the Holocaust, was a widespread preoccupation with evil. While many histories emphasize Germany's rapid transition from genocidal dictatorship to liberal democracy, A Demon-Haunted Land places in full view the toxic mistrust, profound bitterness, and spiritual malaise that unfolded alongside the economic miracle. Drawing from a set of previously unpublished archival materials, acclaimed historian Monica Black argues that the surge of supernatural obsessions stemmed from the unspoken guilt and shame of a nation remarkably silent about what was euphemistically called "the most recent past." This shadow history irrevocably changes our view of postwar Germany, revealing the country's fraught emotional life, deep moral disquiet, and the cost of trying to bury a horrific legacy"--… (lisätietoja)
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In A Demon-Haunted Land, Monica Black explores how the emotional and psychological fall-out of WWII led to a surge in belief in faith healers and in witchcraft accusations in 1950s/60s Germany. She argues that this particular uptick in such beliefs arose at least in part from a collective denial of guilt/responsibility for Nazi war crimes which led to many Germans seeing themselves as the war's true victims. Black's argument is sometimes more convincing in the micro than in the macro, and the structure didn't always best support it, but this is still an interesting and clearly argued read.

I'd recommend this more for an academic/upper-level undergraduate or graduate classroom audience, however; despite the sexed-up subtitle, this is an academic book, not a work of popular history.

(The audiobook narrator's pronunciation of German was very "..... Well, you tried.") ( )
  siriaeve | Nov 27, 2023 |
Inevitably something of a work of supposition and speculation, the author takes an interesting angle on how the social strains of post-1945 Germany led to an embrace of supposedly supernatural folk belief. Most of this book focuses on the phenomena of the faith healer Bruno Groning, or a wave of lawsuits and trials relating by the practice of witchcraft (usually instigated by the accused "witches"), and what it says about all the issues in the wake of the Third Reich that "couldn't" be talked about, in terms of just recompense and retribution, when so many hands were dirty, and imaginations failed at how this abyss of human behavior had been reached. I have to admit that the overall impact is a little slighter than I thought it might be, but I was still happy to learn about some history of which I was totally ignorant of. ( )
  Shrike58 | Nov 12, 2022 |
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"In the aftermath of World War II, a succession of mass supernatural events swept through a war-torn Germany. As millions were afflicted by a host of seemingly incurable maladies (including blindness and paralysis), waves of apocalyptic rumors crashed over the land. A messianic faith healer rose to extraordinary fame, prayer groups performed exorcisms, and enormous crowds traveled to witness apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Most strikingly, scores of people accused their neighbors of witchcraft, and found themselves in turn hauled into court on charges of defamation, assault, and even murder. What linked these events, in the wake of an annihilationist war and the Holocaust, was a widespread preoccupation with evil. While many histories emphasize Germany's rapid transition from genocidal dictatorship to liberal democracy, A Demon-Haunted Land places in full view the toxic mistrust, profound bitterness, and spiritual malaise that unfolded alongside the economic miracle. Drawing from a set of previously unpublished archival materials, acclaimed historian Monica Black argues that the surge of supernatural obsessions stemmed from the unspoken guilt and shame of a nation remarkably silent about what was euphemistically called "the most recent past." This shadow history irrevocably changes our view of postwar Germany, revealing the country's fraught emotional life, deep moral disquiet, and the cost of trying to bury a horrific legacy"--

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