Savage Continent Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

Savage Continent Europe in the Aftermath of World War II Winner of the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize A superb and immensely important book—Jonathan Yardley The Washington Post The Second World War might have officially ended in May 1945 but in reality it rumbled on for another ten yearsThe end of World War II in Europe is remembered as a time when cheering crowds filled the streets but the reality was uite different Across Europe landscapes had been ravaged entire cities razed and than thirty million people had been killed in the war The institutions that we now take for granted—such as police media transport and local and national government—were either entirely absent or compromised Crime rates soared economies collapsed and whole populations hovered on the brink of starvation In Savage Continent Keith Lowe describes a continent where individual Germans and collaborators were rounded up and summarily executed where concentration camps were reopened and violent anti Semitism was reborn In some of the monstrous acts of ethnic cleansing the world has ever seen tens of millions were expelled from their ancestral homelands Savage Continent is the story of post–war Europe from the close of the war right to the establishment of an uneasy stability at the end of the 1940s Based principally on primary sources from a dozen countries Savage Continent is the chronicle of a world gone mad the standard history of post–World War II Europe for years to come


10 thoughts on “Savage Continent Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

  1. Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont says:

    A Tale Unfolds Keith Lowe’s Savage Continent Europe in the Aftermath of World War II is an important book Yes yes I know; you’ve heard it all before the special pleading on behalf of some new publication or other but believe me it is Actually no don’t believe me; don’t take my word for it; read it and find out for yourself If you think that the Second World War in Europe ended abruptly in May 1945; if you think that VE Day brought peace then you are in for a surprise I was reminded of some words from the Book of Jeremiah; They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people lightly saying Peace peace; when there is no peace Considering the important weighting I’m giving here it’s a book that I almost did not read A few years ago I read Giles Macdonogh’s After the Reich From the Liberation of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift I rather assumed that Savage Continent was essentially covering the same territory namely the post war trauma of Germany It does; it touches on the savage expulsion of millions of Germans from the eastern territories handed over to the Poles at Potsdam and Yalta and from their former homes in the Czech Sudetenland But Lowe deals with so much not just a traumatised people but a traumatised Continent; he deals with the traumas of places as far apart and as diverse as Estonia and Greece We are dealing here with political social economic and moral chaos; we are dealing with the abyss the nadir of human civilization We are dealing with starvation lawlessness disruption homelessness rootlessness alienation murder and rape on an unprecedented scale in all of history We are dealing with racial wars and ethnic cleansing that did not end with the Nazis We are dealing with an ugliness of unbelievable intensity In some places the hatred and violence that emerged in the war and immediate post war period never really went away The former Yugoslavia is a case in point where ethnic and racial tensions engendered by the conflict were submerged for decades only to break out once with unrestrained ferocity in the 1990s a reminder of how difficult it is to escape from the past It’s not all about statistics and numbers not all about mass suffering; there are also some sobering personal anecdotes There is the story of an eighteen year old Polish Jew by the name of Roman Halter He had survived Auschwitz It’s May 1945; the war is over; the danger is past; he is free emaciated but free He began a long walk east leaving from Dresden hoping to find others of his family who had survived the Holocaust On the way he met a Russian soldier whom he greeted as a comrade and a liberator The friendly gesture was not returned Instead the Russian ordered him to take his trousers down Having ascertained that he was a Jew he put his revolver to Halter’s head and pulled the trigger The gun misfired The memory of this incident stayed with Halter for the rest of his life Anti Semitism had not died with Hitler The sad truth is as Lowe shows that hatred of the Jews actually increased after the war leading to murderous pogroms in Hungary and Poland It wasn’t the industrial scale biology based mass murder of the Nazis but rather a return to atavist and medieval forms of Jew hatred It was this perhaps even than the Holocaust which led many Jews to conclude that they had no future in Europe There are other stories which in their own way are just as shocking because they are less expected There is the story of the Norwegian children some three thousand of whom were born to women who had relationships with German soldiers during the occupation Afterwards the assumption was that the women must have been mentally sub normal and the soldiers they attracted also mentally sub normal For years afterwards the children born to these people were subject to levels of ostracism and discrimination that had a severe impact on their life chances Compared with some of the other horror stories detailed in this book it amounts to little though it tends to undermine one’s view of the seemingly limitless nature of Scandinavian tolerance There was so much in Lowe’s account of Stunde Null wrongly given as Stunde nul – Zero Hour – as the German referred to the end of the war that I had no knowledge of at all I knew nothing of the vicious racial war between the Poles and the Ukrainians pursued both during and after the war with conseuences even so far as today I knew nothing about the struggles of the Forest Brotherhood the freedom fighters in the Baltic States who went on to resist the Soviet occupiers for years after the war people who were still being killed as late as 1978 The author’s whole account us tremendously illuminating as the dust settled and the great post war divisions between the communist east and the free west began to take shape It’s as well to remember that for many in the east the story of oppression and occupation did not end in 1945; rather one tyranny simply took the place of another Communism has gone now We have a Brave New Europe that has such free peoples in it Ah but that’s just the thing Our Europe the Europe of the European Community is driven by fear of the past than hope for the future Recently we have had all sorts of dire warnings over what might happen if the euro collapses Hence we have a bureaucratic post democratic New Order It is the architects of this New Order in their distrust of the people who are paradoxically recreating forms of popular discontent that led to disaster in the first place So yes this is an important book important if you want to understand the European present as well as the European past It is cogent well written and well argued account if over reliant at points on anecdotal evidence The only thing that irritates me is the author’s tendency to drop into the first person singular It is as if he is a tour guide taking us on a journey a techniue which for me is wholly out of place in a sober historical narrative But if it is a journey we have come far If you want to know how far come and see; come and read I could a tale unfold whose lightest wordWould harrow up thy soul freeze thy young bloodMake thy two eyes like stars start from their spheresThy knotted and combined locks to partAnd each particular hair to stand on endLike uills upon the fretful porpentineBut this eternal blazon must not beTo ears of flesh and blood


  2. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    This is the third in my series of great books on World War Two First Max Hastings in All Hell Let Loose gives the whole story and brilliantly simplifies it too He explains and I’m convinced that WW2 was essentially between Germany and the USSR or between Hitler and Stalin if you wish Everything else was a side show He goes further – the result was never in doubt If Hitler and Stalin were eually ruthless Stalin always had men at his disposal and Russia always had its vast size and epic winters; it was never going to be defeated by Germany Proving this was as we know ferociously murderously inhumanly difficult and accounted for most of the war dead Hastings goes further still – the second major theatre of war USA vs Japan was likewise never in doubt Although the Japanese had run through Indo China like a knife through butter their industrial strength was tiny compared to the USA so within a couple of years they were bound to run out of material – ships tanks guns Likewise proving that foregone conclusion was deathlySo that was the big picture The next two books gave the detail of two parts which I knew little or nothing about – Ian Kershaw’s The End gives a gruesomely detailed description of the final year of the war in Europe the Gotterdammerung catastrophe of Germany itself which as you contemplate its massive thorough ruination puts you in mind of a nation sized suicide by police some criminals prefer to prisonNow finally Savage Continent gives a forensic portrait of the hideousness of the aftermath of this European lunacy Popular historians have mostly steered clear of this period 1945 48 and understandably so – it presents a horrible vista of misery and viciousness of physical destruction and moral collapse and of where there was enough food to eat and enough men left standing who were not too busy raping the women who were still alive of ethnic cleansing untrammeled vengeance and further civil wars It takes a historian with a very strong stomach to write in detail about this period And us readers need to be able to distance ourselves emotionally from what we are reading here otherwise we would never pick up a book like this But readers of history are very familiar with that kind of mental discipline History is indeed little than the register of the crimes follies and misfortunes of mankind Edward GibbonWORLD WAR TWO AND A HALFWorld War Two ended at different times in different places – autumn 1943 in Italy a year later for France but in parts of eastern Europe Greece and Poland for instance it morphed into local civil wars and continued into the 1950s There was one over arching conflict between the Allies and the Nazi regime But parallel to that weaving all the way through it was a war between the left the communists and the right the nationalists for want of a better word Then separate to those two but closely entwined so it was often hard to see a difference were many local wars between the ethnicities in a given area – Ukrainians versus Poles Croats versus Serbs Germans versus Poles these wars went on and on and only intensified after May 1945The way these were dealt with by the occupying Allied forces was lamentable But Keith Lowe firmly says In a straight choice between Stalinist communism and the flawed mix of democracy and authoritarianism espoused by the West the latter was undoubtedly the lesser of the two evilsSTATISTICS OF CHAOS IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATHThere’s a table on page 122 – DEATHS AMONGST PRISONERS OF WAR which records that the USA captured 3097000 prisoners of whom 4537 died; and Britain captured 3635000 of whom 1254 died There is a discussion of why POWs died in American camps than in British But this all becomes rather academic when even before presenting the stats table Keith Lowe says We must remember that these are conservative figures even official historians concede that thousands of deaths probably went unrecordedAnd later after gruesome revenge stories The validity of accounts like this is impossible to verify and it is uite likely that some aspects have been greatly exaggerated Underneath another stats table THE JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT OF COLLABORATORS IN WESTERN EUROPE he says Despite the precise nature of some of the figures above they should be considered estimates only as many of the absolute numbers are disputed This entire book is strewn with statistical data big numbers everywhere and all are disputed all may be wrong But this does not stop the author Acknowledging the immense difficulties he ploughs on He covers topic after topic – whole chapters on for example the fate of the “horizontal collaborators” the women who had intimate relations with occupying German forces – maybe we should say the women who became sex slaves of one or soldiers They were hated and reviled such is to be expected however unfair The author then gives us seven pages about the attitudes to and experiences of the children of such unions and how they were despised and ostracized for decades Eg in Norway Every year right up until the start of the 1960s these children and their guardians had to undergo the annual humiliation of applying to the local police for permission to remain in the countryFINISHING THE JOB THE NAZIS STARTEDIf you thought the Holocaust of European Jews ended when the camps were liberated Keith Lowe brings you bad news Killings of Jews continued Antisemitism was nearly universal in eastern Europe although Poland easily won the contest for Most Antisemitic Post War Country which I found not surprising Between 500 and 1500 Jews were murdered by Poles in the 12 months after May 1945 Jews of all nationalities would discover that the end of German rule did not mean the end of persecution Far from it Despite all that the Jews had suffered in many areas anti Semitism would increase after the war Violence against Jews would resurface everywhere – even in places that had never been occupied such as Britain In some parts of Europe this violence would be final and definitive the task of permanently clearing their communities of Jews which even the Nazis failed to do would be finished off by local people By 1948 much of the region had become even than in Hitler’s time Judenfrei Where did this anti Semitism come from? Lowe reports that in the vicious right left nationalist communist struggle which was now surfacing all over Europe the nationalists characterized the Communist Party as Jewish; and the Communist counter propaganda was to label the Jews as capitalists hoarders and black marketeersSo the Jews fled from Eastern Europe – how ironic that Germany Austria and Italy were now safer than Poland Ukraine or Yugoslavia And Britain argued passionately that these fleeing Jews should NOT be allowed to emigrate to Palestine The British Foreign Office said that would be admitting that the Nazis “were right in holding that there was no place for the Jews in Europe” There are so many issues described in this awesome book Keith Lowe has fused together so much material and so many stories into something resembling coherence and he deserves a big fat history book prize There is nothing too difficult or too obscure or too detailed for him His prose has almost no flair or flavor but it gets the job done with unflagging humanity It’s devastating


  3. Jill Hutchinson Jill Hutchinson says:

    The war was overhooray and let's celebrate Of course that was not the case at all but historians often give short shrift to the horrors of the years in Europe immediately following WWII The end of that conflagration only initiated the start of othersdisplaced persons prisoners war crimes nationalism giving way to violence continued ethnic cleansingthe rise of Communism etc Governments were gone as well as economies and physical infrastructure Europe was a hell on earth and the author delves deep into those problems in this excellent book He points the finger when and where it is appropriate as he posits that some of the total breakdown of eastern Europe could have been prevented but for the bullying of the United States and Britain by the Soviet Union It is not enough to portray the war as a simple conflict between the Axis and the Allies over territory Some of the worst atrocities had nothing to do with territory but with race or nationality and some of the most vicious fighting was not between the Axis and the Allies at all but between local people who took the opportunity of the wider war to give vent to much older frustrationsThis is an eye opening book graphic and disturbing but one that should be read by any fan of the history of WWII It only got a little bit lower rating because it tended to drag just a bit toward the endbut that doesn't keep it from being a block buster Highly recommended


  4. Mikey B. Mikey B. says:

    A Polish partisan page 218 my book “The Ukrainians in turn took their revenge by destroying a village of 500 Poles and torturing and killing all who fell in their hands We responded by destroying two of their larger villages This was how the fighting escalated Each time people were killed houses burnt women raped Men become desensitised very uickly and kill as if they know nothing else”Page 365 It was virtually impossible to emerge from the Second World War without enemiesvirtually every person on the continent had suffered some kind of loss or injusticeWe often think of the Second World War in Europe as ending in May of 1945 We have plentiful images of happiness in the US and England – but such was not the case on the continentThe author points out that the six long years of war had virtually destroyed all things civilized Chaos was the norm Transportation was non existent; cities lay in ruins and civil society police government had evaporated There was a constant struggle for food and shelter There were millions of slave labourers on the roads Some wanted to go back to a “home” that no longer existed; others particularly Russians and Poles did not want to go “home” In all cases “home” would be something vastly different than it was in 1939 The overall feeling was of vengeance – to the German to the collaborator other ethnic groups and even to the few remaining Jews left Mob violence was the norm The war unleashed all the hidden ethnic and geographical tensions – particularly in Yugoslavia – and Poland and Ukraine Each group played the victim card And all was much worse in Eastern Europe where Stalin encouraged ethnic cleansing where his troops raped and pillaged on a massive scale Stalin’s goal was not merely to defeat Nazi Germany but to subjugate all the conuered territories with his own puppet regimesAs the author mentions for the millions of soldiers of slave labourers of resistance fighters – brutality had become a way of life and it did not abruptly end in May 1945 It went on until the early 1950’s – so in Eastern Europe We often think of the Marshall Plan as re invigorating Western Europe but this was implemented starting in 1947 because of Europe’s overall predicamentThis is an excellent book that describes the gruesome conditions that existed in Europe in the post war years It is not a book of mere statistics but of personal and harrowing examples – as in women and children forced to prostitute themselves to get cans of food from Allied soldiers of soldiers sickened and saddened by the daily scenes of mob violenceIn a way what it is positive is we can see how far Europe has progressed since the early 1950’s – and has re established itself as a center of civilizationTo close off here is just one example of the residual effects of the war There were hundred of thousands of women who had children from German soldiers These children were discriminated and ostracized in all communities Page 178 One can only applaud the bravery of the French mother who confronted a school teacher who had called her daughter a “batard du Boche” with the words “Madame it was not my daughter who slept with the German but me When you want to insult someone save it for me rather than taking it out on an innocent child”


  5. Dem Dem says:

    Savage Continent Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe is an excellent book and a ground breaking study of the years that followed the Second World WarI have read a lot of books about the war and the concentrations camps and the violence and atrocities that took place in Europe at this timeI had never actually read a book about the aftermath of the war although I had often wondered about this period in history The World War left Europe in chaos Landscapes had been ravaged entire cities razed and that 35 million people killed Across most of the continent the institutions that we now take for granted such as the police and the media transport national government were either absent or hopelessly compromised Crime rates soared economies collapsed and the European population hovered on the brink of starvation This book is divided into 4 sections dealing with The Legacy of War Vengeance Ethnic Cleansing and Civil WarMost of us have the impression that the end of the War meant the end of the killing and suffering But the truth is the killing and suffering went on and on What followed the end of the war was as bad as much of what happened during it and continued for almost 10 years And those responsible were not heartless Nazis; in many cases they were the good guys the victorious AlliesIn the immediate aftermath the cruelty even savagery of what was perpetrated not only on surviving German soldiers but on civilians and on collaborators in various countries which had been occupied was shocking I was really shocked at how women in particular suffered dreadfully in the aftermath of the warThis is certainly a thougrouglhly researched book and Keith Lowe really paints the facts very Cleary and documents his sources at the end of the book Lowe does not take sides in this painful story but tries to get the facts and the information to the reader in every chapter and I really think he succeded in his taskThis is not the easiest of reads but it is certainly an education and I learned so much that I found myself jotting notes down as I read this book


  6. Kevin Cole Kevin Cole says:

    A Goodreads friend of mine recently asked why I've been reading and reviewing so many history books of late I told him I like history Then why don't you write history books? he asked rather than coming of age novels obsessed with as one reviewer discovered sucking dickOnce upon a time I did want to be a historian As a kid I inhaled history I knew about events and places at an age when most kids barely knew about the world beyond their town To this day adult friends ask me when such and such happened They're invariably amused when I tell them exact dates In the distant past I liked history so much I started college intending to make it my major even though it meant laughable job prospectsSomething happened in university though While I had a few interesting history professors I also had to read textbooks that were thick heavy and about as fascinating as reading phone books These bricks were written by pedants with no talent and self satisfied profundity and all my passion for history was killed by them A passion that didn't return until recently beginning with Thomas Fleming's Illusion of Victory and continuing furiously until who knows whenAs for this book let me just say This is how history books should be written It's perfect The subject is a good one explored fully and explained clearly The point of view is divinely fair taking no sides while at the same time judging allSavage Continent is about what happened in Europe after the Second World War officially ended in May 1945 Popular history has it that for the most part peace prevailed and people went about the long process of piecing their lives back together and building back up their cities But nothing could have been further from the truth Years after the war Europe saw uite a bit of fighting ugly fighting For as Keith Lowe points out WWII wasn't just a war about megalomaniacs with imperial obsessions it was also a race war a war for political control and finally a war of revengeExamples are too many to list here What's really good about this book is that it tears up what we're told about the war and the people involved For example the Nazis hated Slavs and they hated the Jews But just because they hated Jews doesn't mean the Slavs of Eastern Europe liked the Jews either The Nazis may have specifically killed Jews but anti Semitism was as common throughout Europe as talking about the weather This means the Jews who managed to survive returned home only to find all their property stolen by locals who then encouraged them strongly to just go away Even in Poland a nation that suffered proportionately than any other under the Nazis traumatized Jews were massacred by traumatized Poles the latter simply exhibiting attitudes they'd always had but used by now to violenceThis book details something else you don't hear about much if at all the expulsion of whole groups of people from countries First it was the Germans from countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia Now you might think who cares they had it coming But it didn't stop there Poles were flushed out of Ukraine and Ukrainians almost completely ejected from Poland As for the Jews well seeing as they had no home any they decided to leave the continent altogether Hitler was defeated only to see states with formerly multi ethnic makeups ethnically cleansed most of all by the Jews Stalin encouraged this too distracting people with nationalism while installing Communism in their respective governments after which total state control was erected and wouldn't be dismantled until forty years later In other words Europe was freed from Hitler only to hand over half of it to Stalin This was the Good War we hear so much aboutAnd while the Communists were brutal the Western powers weren't exactly angels either As the Cold War came into being the Western governments principally America decided it was absolutely critical to stop the appeal of the USSR its former ally The worst extent of this policy was supporting governments that were in some cases uite as state controlled as Communist governments but happened to be anti Commie Fascism was defeated Except for Franco's Spain Democracy won except in Greece in 1967 when the military overthrew the government One uncomfortable fact follows another till you want to curl up in a ball and hide in a dark roomThis is a good and important book easy to read and unforgettable


  7. Jakob Jakob says:

    This book is a revelation as other reviewers have pointed out for those of us whose view of history was that WWII led to the Cold War and events in between didn't matter much because we knew what happened in the end I at least learned that I knew nothing Ignoring the forced cultural shifts and anarchy that occurred after WWII is to ignore the underpinnings of most of the Euro centric conflicts that have occurred and are ongoing todayAnother milestone I've never read a book that has given rise in to such disgust at the deplorable lows that humans can be brought to by years of mental anguish Freuently reading this book gave way to raw emotion but also speculation at how the political and cultural demonizations that occurred post WWII are still visible in my own prejudicesThis book is the most important read for anybody interested not only WWII's aftermath but in comprehending the undercurrents of many modern political movements especially in Europe and America and perhaps being able to see through the modern forms of racism prejudice and lies that fill our airwaves and fuel our hatreds


  8. Louise Louise says:

    This is a stunning portrait of the continent wide upheaval that followed World War II The cover itself is vastly different from the American post war images of cheering crowds and ticker tape parades The average European soldier prisoner of war or concentration camp survivor did not go home to a GI Bill a booming economy or even a welcome Going home probably meant a new internment in a former death camp where supplies were short Since most transportation was destroyed travel was by foot with little food shelter or protection from bandits or partisans along the way Most likely the home was destroyed and the community with itKeith Howe brings a lot together He presents statistics along with the human tragedies that define them He arranges the work by problems loss of infrastructure need for revenge famine legal breakdown the freuency and brutality of rape ethnic hatred famine and moral destruction and by countryHe shows World War II was many wars within one and how the surrender of the big powers did not settle all the issues Crowds in the heat of liberation meted out punishment for the perpetrators of the war than the official system In some counties the perpetrators were useful to the victors and flourished In some countries the war heroes received punishment for their newly out of fashion views than collaborators or fascistsWomen may have been the most heavily scapegoated for crimes of passion or prostitution Many had their hair shorn for collaboration and were marched naked while collaborators who sent others to their deaths skated free If they had a child with a German father the child faced discrimination or even expulsion In the post war chaos many were raped many at very young ages many multiple times a dayPutting an end to Hitler did not put an end to the racism and nationalism Lowe presents staggering statistics showing how countries closed ranks against outsiders as country after country expelled Germans Jews or any other group it wanted rid of The citizens took possession of land and goods before the expelled could actually pack The last chapters focus on how Russia took advantage of the chaos to implant its brand of communism in the eastern areas its army occupied at the war's end Each nation was different but had the brutal dictatorial result was the sameThis is a stunning work Lowe has produced not only a readable work but a reference work as wellHighly recommended


  9. Gwern Gwern says:

    144k words 4h Nonfiction European history by Keith Lowe Savage Continent is a fascinating book on the bloody aftermath of WWII as the destruction wound down the lingering conseuences of anarchy worked themselves out in the sudden peace and people tried to find a new euilibrium punishing collaborators and finishing the ethnic cleansings uickly summarized on NPRI was used to seeing these wonderful cozy myths about the way the war ended he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross and everybody celebrating and sailors grabbing hold of nurses in New York's Times Suare and kissing them and all of these sort of things And I was aware that it hadn't uite ended like that Europe he says was so devastated that it's difficult for us to uite realize how bad the destruction wasWWII for Americans remains the good war; while one may be familiar with tarnished aspects of that the atrocities in the Pacific the unnecessary atomic bombings of Japan the domestic censorship etc one hears less about the post war period Presumably after liberation things were cleaned up uickly and calmly and a few years later our historical memory turns to the start of the Cold WarAn example of the fluffiness I have in mind is an old movie I watched in August Three Coins in the Fountain a romantic comedy set in post war Rome where while there is still poverty and recovery from the war things are basically OK But one might have a better idea from my earlier reading Catch 22's Italy scenes; or from Gravity's Rainbow's depiction of partitioned Germany's fierce stew of black marketeering Communism corruption crime destruction and prostitution The end of WWII left much business unfinished Wages of Destruction covers in detail the slave labor forces drawn from conuered Europe which worked in Germany up until defeat and the parlous food situation of Germany and Europe at large so what happened after? With all these victorious horny occupation forces? With the slave laborers and the Jews and the guerrillas or partisans or thieves or black marketeers? How were morals slowly restored after being corrupted by the exigencies of war and the struggle for survival and what was seen as now possible after the Holocaust?The answers are rarely pretty but Lowe gives a synoptic view It can be hard to understand the early Cold War what were the Americans Europeans thinking when they set up Operation Gladio? What was with the persecution of homosexuals or the Red Scare McCarthy? Or when reading through Bryne's The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett review one can see on display his incomprehension of how anyone could plan for nuclear war or be willing to go to the edge or the security mindset But here we see it put in context a Europe only just liberated from one despotism half of which has been handed over to another despot even worse and who has displayed the ruthless techniues of subversion and rewriting society on a grand scale chapter 25 Cuckoo in the Nest Communism in Romania is a surprisingly lengthy account of the sausage factory of of Communization first start with the internal security offices exploit the electoral process destroy opponents in detail silencing or attacking or killing as necessary and finally with a captive government take naked control and begin the purges and theft of all private property in which Communist parties were not a political curiosity but popular even a plurality sometimes Without the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see how one might resort to deep states alliances with the Mafia and so onThrow on top of this the festering ethnic hatreds which all sides struggled to control or exploit which had independent lives of their own It's hard to not see the echoes today the Crimea appears often in Savage Europe as it has in recent news; mentions of 'Novorossiya' would not be out of place; the Ukraine is battered so relentlessly in WWII and afterwards that contemporary events look not like an aberration but a return to business as usual; and can Finland rest very easy about its independence from Russia when it gained its independence not that long ago and long memories are so politically profitable particularly in Eastern Europe Asia?An enlightening and timely bookExcerpts Introduction 3 45 6 8 9 11 12 14 15 19 20 23 24 Conclusion


  10. Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk says:

    I found this a very difficult book to read not because it was harrowing as some reviewers have described it for me there was nothing new here just lots of facts and information that filled out the bones a little I found this book difficult because it is so dry I believe this book is really aimed at an insular English speaking audience for whom the Second World War in Europe ended in May 1945 Europeans and serving soldiers at the time will be well aware of the near chaos and seeking of justice and vengeance that occurred at the end of military hostilities they are the witnesses who speak to us through the pages Lowe divides what happened into a number of smaller topics and in so doing manages to create a distortion Instead of seeing the events of the post combat period as a whole we see a fragmented picture Lowe somehow manages to put small albeit unsavoury incidents on isolated individual stages and then almost euates them with the state sponsored mass murders of the Nazi state It is only after he has made his judgemental comments and I found him very judgemental that he tries to point out that maybe we need to place these events in some sort of context I am a fervent believer in the statement as you sow so shall you reap The Germans instigated a war of conuest and extermination in Eastern Europe that was very different to that in the West and this contrast does emerge even if it isn't highlighted enough The Jews were merely at the top of the Nazi German kill list In Poland ordinary men and women lived in daily fear for their lives They regularly witnessed murders taking place my uncle as a young boy of fifteen was taking his father's cows out to pasture and knew to instinctively hide when he saw a German military truck appear on the road; as a result he was witness to the execution of dozens of his neighbours initially by hanging and then by being burnt alive in a nearby barn Slave labour is commonplace my mother had the distinction of being taken into forced labour by the Soviets and then by the Germans in 1941 Polish and Ukrainian labourers were murdered at the whim of the farmer who owned them As you sowIt is hardly surprising that at the end of the War these people sought justice and vengeance They dished out just a small part of what they had received Sometimes this seeking for justice would appear to be as brutal and evil as what had been done by the Germans but there is a great difference between state sponsored racist violence and individual actions of revenge There is a great difference between a pogrom in some small town that grows out of chaos and ignorance and the trainloads of victims being put on the assembly line of extermination Somehow Lowe manages to muddy these watersThe defeat of Nazi Germany was merely one aspect of the War Lowe too easily plays the racist card and talks about ethnic cleansing and forgets once again to put the events that occurred after the War into the context of what happened during the War and what was encouraged by the Allies until long after he has planted his seeds of doubt and condemnation He informs us too late that the Germans exploited local animosity and encouraged internecine fighting divide and conuer There will be many in Eastern Europe who know that the War didn't end but carried on as partisan groups clashed with the Soviet sponsored government forces and one evil regime was replaced by another there are many who would say it didn't end in Poland and Czechoslovakia until 1989 and in the Baltic States until 1991 just as there are many in the West who forget that Stalin and Hitler were allies in 1939 At least here Lowe does a better jobOccasionally Lowe asks the important uestion or states the important fact; in instigating a war of terror and bringing Europe almost to the edge of extinction who should really bear the blame for the chaos that ensued?As you sow


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