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Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields
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Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  1,370 ratings  ·  276 reviews
A revelatory new history of the role of German women in the Holocaust, not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but as actual killers on the eastern front during World War II.

Wendy Lower's stunning account of the role of German women on the World War II Nazi eastern front powerfully revises history, proving that we have ignored the reality of women's participation in t
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Chatto & Windus (first published 2013)
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Gil Rosenberg
Based on the NYT's blog interview with Wendy it is clear that she, her agent and publisher sacrificed the integrity of a serious subject in rder to publish a commercial book that does not prove its marketing claims. After decades of research Wendy had a theory she sought to prove -that countless thousands of young German women participated in the the killing fields in the East.

The problem is that she only has little bits and fragments of information on twelve women in the book and one full forc
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Ashley
Hitler’s Furies by Wendy Lower is described as a revelatory new history of the role of German women in the Holocaust, not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but as actual killers on the eastern front during World War II. The book claims to powerfully revise history and proves that we have ignored the reality of women as brutal killers during the Holocaust. While Lower does provide statements and references that depict women as active participants in the Holocaust rather than supportive wiv ...more
Cate
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR THOSE WITH A WEAK STOMACH, THE OVERLY PASSIONATE OR ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18.

This book has taken me a tremendously long amount of time to finish; not because it is badly written or long-winded, but because it overwhelms the reader’s emotions to such a point that you need to put it down and walk away. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart, and can only be digested in small, not so easily swallowed mouthfuls.

In writing this book the Author pulls on her
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Diane S.
2.5 I loved the beginning of this book, found it very informative, appalling but informative. The author asserts that over half a million women were either involved or consciously looked way, during the Holocaust. I must be extremely naive because I had no idea the figures were that high. Than I think, how would I have reacted during this situation, when not going along could get one killed. One thing I know for sure is that I would not have picnicked on the site of a mass burial.

The beginning
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Ionia
There have been many books, case studies and articles about the Holocaust and many of them have had a special focus but this is the first time I recall seeing an in-depth look at the roles of German women in the Nazi regime. This was a rather ambitious project, with a specific focus and I thought it was compelling.

First of all, let me say that this is a tough book to read without feeling sick to your stomach. That has nothing to do with the abilities of the author of course; I didn't expect thi
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Maine Colonial
Even though I've read hundreds of novels and history books about the Holocaust, Wendy Lower's study was a revelation. In a way, it shouldn't have been. Having read a lot about the Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads who murdered Jews, Gypsies, Slavs and others in the east, to make room for Germany's intended rural paradise), euthanasia programs, Gestapo offices, occupation bureaucracies and other elements of the Nazi operations, I knew that there were many nurses, secretaries and wives who wer ...more
Dachokie
Enlightening, but Incomplete …

This book was reviewed as part of Amazon's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book.

Considering almost every facet of the Nazi era has been examined to some degree, there is a disappointing void in divulging female accountability when it comes to Nazi atrocities. With HITLER’S FURIES, Wendy Lower sheds the “hausfrau” persona so commonly associated with German women of the time and reveals the disturbing fact that many of these women actively contr
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Jess
I have many issues with this book. Where is the research??

She focuses on a few (maybe a dozen) women and draws these overarching and unsubstantiated ideas.

For example, she'll say something like, "Terrible things happened in X city in Poland. How can we believe women weren't there? They were there and must have done terrible things." What?? This logic makes no sense.

She'll also say, "She claims that she had no part in any terrible things but she lied." Where is the proof she lied?? Maybe she di
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Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
Hitler's Furies: Ger­man Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower is a non-fiction book depict­ing the hor­rific and stun­ning roles women played in the Third Reich. Ms. Lower is an Amer­i­can his­to­rian who wrote sev­eral books about the Holo­caust, she pre­sented this new infor­ma­tion in Yad Vashem , the Holo­caust Mar­tyrs’ and Heroes’ Remem­brance Author­ity in Jerusalem.

“"[T]he con­sen­sus in Holo­caust and geno­cide stud­ies is that the sys­tems that make mass mur­der pos­si­ble
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Cathy
Read Gil Rosenberg's review for more detail. I have no doubt that Professor Lower is an expert in this area and this book definitely piqued my interest in reading more about the Eastern Front and the post-war trials. That said, either the book was much longer and was poorly edited (as Rosenberg suggests) or Professor Lower just did a lousy job of cutting and pasting her own research into a 200-page book that would be accessible to the lay reader.

There is a tremendous amount of repetition and lot
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Anne
It's very unfortunate that this book is so badly organized and repetitive, because Lower's research into female German participation in the Holocaust on the Eastern Front is in many ways highly valuable. Reviewers here complain that Lower's research sample of some thirteen German women enablers/accomplices/perpetrators is too small to be statistically significant or even remotely representative, but as Lower points out (at the very end of the book, when such an observation would have been so muc ...more
Matti Karjalainen
Amerikkalaisen historian professorin ja tutkijan Wendy Lowerin "Hitlerin raivottaret : saksalaisnaisia natsien kuoleman kentilllä" (Atena, 2014) on tietokirja vähemmälle huomiolle jääneestä aiheesta, eli saksalaisten naisten osuudesta juutalaisten joukkotuhoon. Ilse Kochin ja Irma Gresen kaltaiset, melko hyvin dokumentoidut tappajat eivät olleet yksittäistapauksia, vaan monet aivan tavalliset saksalaisnaiset tempautuivat mukaan kansanmurhan pyörteisiin niin sairaanhoitajina, sihteereinä kuin SS- ...more
Wendy
"In many ways, this book is about how we fail to reckon with the past, not so much as a historical reconstruction or morality tale, but as evidence of a recurring problem in which we all share responsibility. What are the blind spots and taboos that persist in our retelling of events, in individual accounts, memoirs, and national histories? Why does this history continue to haunt us, several generations and many miles removed [...]?" (p. 200).

In Hitler's Furies, author Wendy Lower follows variou
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KOMET
This book goes a long way toward elucidating the role a number of German women played as "agents of death" in the Nazi Holocaust.

Before coming to this book, I had thought that the only German women who had willingly taken part in killing Jews and other peoples regarded as "undesirables" by the Nazis were the SS auxiliaries in the concentration camps like Ravensbruck and Bergen Belsen, who acquired a reputation for brutality. But in "Hitler's Furies", the reader learns that there were also Germa
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Erica
“Hitler's Furies” examines author Wendy Lower's hypothesis that many German women participated in genocidal activities on the eastern front during World War II. To be honest, I feel bad rating this book so low, since I understand that Lower undertook many years of research in the former Soviet Union in order to provide fodder for this book. Nonetheless, I feel that “Hitler's Furies” offers only an incomplete glimpse at the topic of German women's participation in the Holocaust. For example, she ...more
Bethodology
This seemed to be a promising book, written by a scholar and based on original documentation, on an important and interesting topic: the likely participation of a significant number of German women in inhumane Nazi efforts. However, it reads like a poorly edited series of stand-alone essays, with each chapter re-using the same argument again and again. Lower also makes the cardinal error of introducing over a dozen largely undifferentiated historical figures in one chapter and then referring bac ...more
Charlie
Countless German women actively participated in the Holocaust but returned to civilian life and melted into the populace- never held accountable for their crimes against humanity. This well researched book attempts to explain why. Many who were brought to trial were acquitted. Even though courts admitted these women had committed the crimes,the social climate, Nazi culture, and pressure of the times were cited as excuses for their behavior. The climate of the post war period explains the relucta ...more
cameron
I think maybe the title is the most intriguing and imaginative part of this book. It's certainly worth reading. I really hadn't given much thought to the rise through administrative ranks for German women. Though I knew the women's roles during the war in England and the US were critical to the war effort, I really hadn't thought about how the same exact thing happened in Germany and the German provinces. This was all counter to the Master Race propaganda of women as perfect mates and breeding m ...more
Iva
This is a National Book Award nominated study of women's participation in the "war against the Jews". These women, very few of whom were caught and punished after WW II ended, did unspeakable acts of murder and torture as they served as nurses, teachers or were wives of Nazis. The photos show ordinary looking people that make the extermination process even harder to believe. The author, in this well researched text, presents the women's stories in a straightforward prose style. This is an eye-op ...more
Jane
Disturbing read about women's participation in the Holocaust. Covering: witnesses, accomplices and perpetrators and uses particular women's memoirs, letters and interrogations to illustrate the difference in participation. For me it covered some information that I had never considered in my limited knowledge of events involved with the Holocaust. I thought it very interesting.
Carrie
I am giving this book three stars because it explores an area of the Holocaust that we don't know as much about. The specific women discussed in the book, and more broadly, the role of women as the wives and secretaries of the male members of the Nazi machine are not topics I've seen in detail in any other reading on the Holocaust.

However, I have a lot of problems with this book. It is extremely disorganized and hard to follow. The women profiled in the book appear randomly throughout the book (
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Debbie
This was like reading a history text book - in a good way. It reminded me quite a bit of some of the things I read in Women's studies. In all the stuff I have read about Germany in WW2 or The Third Reich or on the Holocaust; I haven't read anything specific about how German women and their 'connection/participation' with Nazism, the SS, the racial murders, etc. And of course, after reading this, how could women not be part of the process? Like in the US and Britain, woman fill the open spaces wh ...more
Nancy
I think the title suggested a much more in-depth and/or detailed discussion of actual women and their involvement/motivations, quite possibly a far more graphic narrative than was presented. That isn't necessarily bad, but it is a powerful title, moreso than the book itself.

The book discusses the German expansion of territory and the role of women in establishing the German presence and political mythology. The author uses 13 specific women as examples to discuss the general motivations, backgro
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Mark
The idea that women are, by virtue of some a priori benificence of creation, immune from imposing cruelties and evincing inhumanity toward others ought to be kibboshed by this book. The Nazi holocaust could not have occurred without the giant bureaucracy behind it- staffed primarily by women (since all the men were out shooting) and they were, themselves, the chief beneficiaries of the German imperialistic urge. (We did this all for you, baby!) But this book shows how women took part in that as ...more
Richard
Wendy Lower is a Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College and a consultant for the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum. She is published in Holocaust books and articles. Her short bio on the book's cover mentions her fieldwork conducted throughout Europe. It was on a field trip to the Ukraine several decades ago that the inspiration occurred to push her to search for information on the role of Nazi women, especially in relation to the extensive genocidal killing that took place in Germany's v ...more
Mandy
When we look back to the atrocities committed by the Germans against the Jews and others during World War 2, the focus is generally on men. We know that there were women camp guards who were as sadistic and cruel as their male counterparts, but on the whole the role of women has remained hidden. In this ground-breaking and deeply chilling book, Wendy Lower demonstrates that ordinary women as well were often only too complicit in the Holocaust.
Lower’s extensive research reveals that half a milli
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Caitlin
In its exposure of how gender stereotypes have prevented a full understanding of the violence committed by regular German women against the Jews, Hitler's Furies is an absolutely fascinating addition to the history of Nazism and the Holocaust. Previously, female participation in Holocaust violence has been perceived to be limited to concentration camp guards, a relatively small population. However, Lower focuses on German women who moved to the East (Poland, Belarus and the Ukraine) as teachers, ...more
Harvey Solomon
Difficult subject matter handled with an adroit touch. It's obvious that Wendy Lower has done extensive research, and her findings inform the narrative as she attempts to answer the central disturbing question: why did so many German women actively take part in the Nazi killing fields?

She presents many shades of grey: from passive, and occasionally shocked observers to bureaucratic enablers to the most extreme, enthusiastic participants who administered lethal doses in hospitals or shot Jews alo
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Sally Koslow
Hilter's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields illlustrates that as much as we think we know everything about the brutality of the Third Reich and Holocaust, the evil goes broader and deeper than we realized. Historian Wendy Lower, a noted professor as well as a consultant to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, reveals the deeply disturbing reality that on the Eastern front--Poland and what is now Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia-- hundreds of thousands of German woman w ...more
Jim Robles
This is the January 2014 selection for The (mostly) New Yorker Book Club.

I found Chapter 6, "Why Did They Kill," extremely unsatisfying. That is perhaps a shortcoming of the author, or alternatively perhaps simply that I do not like/see the answer.

The ninety-second book I have finished this year by my (shelfari) count, and the sixty-ninth according to GoodReads.

Introduction

p. 4. When pressed by the interrogator as to how she, a mother, could murder these children, Petri referred to the anti-Semi
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WENDY LOWER, Ph.D. is the John K. Roth Chair of History at Claremont McKenna College and research associate of the Ludwig Maximillians Universität in Munich, Germany. A historical consultant for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, she has conducted archival research and field work on the Holocaust for twenty years.
She lives with her family in Los Angeles, CA, and Munich, Germany.
More about Wendy Lower...
Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine Hitlers Helferinnen: Deutsche Frauen im Holocaust The Diary of Samuel Golfard and the Holocaust in Galicia The Contenders: Excerpts from the 2013 National Book Award Nonfiction Finalists The Shoah in Ukraine: History, Testimony, Memorialization

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“The consensus in Holocaust and genocide studies is that the systems that make mass murder possible would not function without the broad participation of society, and yet nearly all histories of the Holocaust leave out half of those who populated that society, as if women’s history happens somewhere else. It is an illogical approach and puzzling omission. The dramatic stories of these women reveal the darkest side of female activism. They show what can happen when women of varied backgrounds and professions are mobilized for war and acquiesce in genocide.” 1 likes
“Goebbels famously remarked that “men organize life: women are their support and implement their decisions.” 1 likes
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