Germany and the Origins of the Second World War

Macmillan International Higher Education
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Jonathan Wright explores the events, discusses rival interpretations and places the policies of Hitler in the context of Germany as a whole. Wright explains that support rose and fell, but, nevertheless, by December 1941 Hitler had succeeded in carrying Germany into a world war for racial empire.
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About the author

JONATHAN WRIGHT is Professor of International Relations and a tutorial Fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford, UK.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Macmillan International Higher Education
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Published on
Sep 27, 2007
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781137103802
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / General
History / Europe / Germany
History / Military / World War II
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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As the Cold War followed on the heels of the Second World War, as the Nuremburg Trials faded in the shadow of the Iron Curtain, both the Germans and the West were quick to accept the idea that Hitler's army had been no SS, no Gestapo, that it was a professional force little touched by Nazi politics. But in this compelling account Omer Bartov reveals a very different history, as he probes the experience of the average soldier to show just how thoroughly Nazi ideology permeated the army. In Hitler's Army, Bartov focuses on the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union--where the vast majority of German troops fought--to show how the savagery of war reshaped the army in Hitler's image. Both brutalized and brutalizing, these soldiers needed to see their bitter sacrifices as noble patriotism and to justify their own atrocities by seeing their victims as subhuman. In the unprecedented ferocity and catastrophic losses of the Eastrn front, he writes, soldiers embraced the idea that the war was a defense of civilization against Jewish/Bolshevik barbarism, a war of racial survival to be waged at all costs. Bartov describes the incredible scale and destruction of the invasion of Russia in horrific detail. Even in the first months--often depicted as a time of easy victories--undermanned and ill-equipped German units were stretched to the breaking point by vast distances and bitter Soviet resistance. Facing scarce supplies and enormous casualties, the average soldier sank to ta a primitive level of existence, re-experiencing the trench warfare of World War I under the most extreme weather conditions imaginable; the fighting itself was savage, and massacres of prisoners were common. Troops looted food and supplies from civilians with wild abandon; they mercilessly wiped out villages suspected of aiding partisans. Incredible losses led to recruits being thrown together in units that once had been filled with men from the same communities, making Nazi ideology even more important as a binding force. And they were further brutalized by a military justice system that executed almost 15,000 German soldiers during the war. Bartov goes on to explore letters, diaries, military reports, and other sources, showing how widespread Hitler's views became among common fighting men--men who grew up, he reminds us, under the Nazi regime. In the end, they truly became Hitler's army. In six years of warfare, the vast majority of German men passed through the Wehrmacht and almost every family had a relative who fought in the East. Bartov's powerful new account of how deeply Nazi ideology penetrated the army sheds new light on how deeply it penetrated the nation. Hitler's Army makes an important correction not merely to the historical record but to how we see the world today.
Though only one among hundreds of prison camps in which British servicemen were held between 1939 and 1945, Colditz enjoys unparalleled name recognition both in Britain and in other parts of the English-speaking world. Made famous in print, on film, and through television, Colditz remains a potent symbol of key virtues - including ingenuity and perseverance against apparantly overwhelming odds - that form part of the popular mythology surrounding the British war effort in World War II. Colditz has played a major role in shaping perceptions of the POW experience in Nazi Germany, an experience in which escaping is assumed to be paramount and 'Outwitting the Hun' a universal sport. The story of Colditz has been told often and in a variety of forms but in this book MacKenzie chronicles the development of the Colditz myth and puts what happened inside the castle in the context of British and Commonwealth POW life in Germany as a whole. Being a captive of the Third Reich - from the moment of surrender down to the day of liberation and repatriation - was more complicated and a good deal tougher than the popular myth would suggest. The physical and mental demands of survival far outweighed escaping activity in order of importance in most camps almost all of the time, and even in Colditz the reality was in some respects very different from the almost Boy's Own caricature that developed during the post-war decades. In The Real Colditz MacKenzie seeks, for the first time, to place Colditz - both the camp and the legend - in a wider historical context.
A lively examination of the heretics who helped Christianity become the world’s most powerful religion.

From Arius, a fourth-century Libyan cleric who doubted the very divinity of Christ, to more successful heretics like Martin Luther and John Calvin, this book charts the history of dissent in the Christian Church.
 
As the author traces the Church’s attempts at enforcing orthodoxy, from the days of Constantine to the modern Catholic Church’s lingering conflicts, he argues that heresy—by forcing the Church to continually refine and impose its beliefs—actually helped Christianity to blossom into one of the world’s most formidable religions.
 
Today, all believers owe it to themselves to grapple with the questions raised by heresy. Can you be a Christian without denouncing heretics? Is it possible that new ideas challenging Church doctrine are destined to become as popular as Luther’s once-outrageous suggestions of clerical marriage and a priesthood of all believers? A delightfully readable and deeply learned new history, Heretics overturns our assumptions about the role of heresy in a faith that still shapes the world.
 
“Wright emphasizes the ‘extraordinarily creative role’ that heresy has played in the evolution of Christianity by helping to ‘define, enliven, and complicate’ it in dialectical fashion. Among the world’s great religions, Christianity has been uniquely rich in dissent, Wright argues—especially in its early days, when there was so little agreement among its adherents that one critic compared them to a marsh full of frogs croaking in discord.” —The New Yorker
From the author of Heretics comes this “informative and enjoyable glimpse at the travails and achievements of emissaries over thousands of years” (Booklist).
 
We think of ambassadors as simply diplomats—but once they were adventurers who dared an uncertain fate in unknown lands, bringing gifts of greyhounds and elephants to powerful and unpredictable leaders. In vivid detail, The Ambassadors traces the remarkable journeys of these emissaries, taking us from the linguistically challenged Greek Megasthenes to the first Japanese embassies to China and Korea; from Mohammed’s ambassadors to Egypt to the envoys of Byzantium, who had the unenviable task of convincing Attila the Hun to stop attacking them. We also witness the dialogue between Europe and Moorish Spain, and meet the ill-fated envoys sent in search of the mythical king Prester John.
 
What Europe still thinks of Asia and what Asia still thinks of Africa were in no small part kindled in these long-ago first encounters. From the cuneiform civilizations of the ancient Near East to the clashing empires of the early modern age, JonathanWright brings alive the men who introduced the great cultures of the world to each other.
 
“Illuminating the practice of diplomatic immunity, the gradual formalization of the institution of global diplomacy and the role of maverick diplomats, Wright carefully balances general developments in the scope of ambassadorial duties with colorful and exemplary tales of particular instances.” —Publishers Weekly
Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs.

Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of  moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever.

While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.  

Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.

“A remarkable—and singularly chilling—glimpse of human behavior...This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust."—Newsweek

 


 

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