Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin
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Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

4.28 of 5 stars 4.28  ·  rating details  ·  3,080 ratings  ·  386 reviews
Americans call the Second World War “The Good War.” But before it even began, America’s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens—and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war’s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behi...more
Hardcover, 524 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Basic Books (first published September 28th 2010)
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Brad Wheeler
Man. Oh, man.

This book is without a doubt the most depressing thing I've ever read. If there was ever a time and place that demonstrated man's inhumanity to man, it would be the "Bloodlands," the areas of Eastern Europe squashed flat two or three times by Hitler and Stalin. The author's accounts of casual starvation, brutal repression, and mass murder were horrifying not just because they happened, but because both victims and perpetrators were everyday, normal people.

This is why you read the ep...more
Tony
First, there are numbers:

13,788 at Polesie
23,600 at Kamiamets-Podilskyi
3,739 prisoners at Starobilsk
358, one night at Palmiry Forest
2,500 at Leningrad by October, 1941
5,500 by November
50,500 by December
1,000,000 by the end of the Leningrad siege
80,000 at Stalag 307
60,000 at Stalag 319
55,000 at Stalag 325
23,000 at Stalag 316
500,000 Soviet prisoners in the General Government
450, one night at Krzesawice
12,000 at Dnipropetrovsk
386,798 kulaks
33,761 at Babi Yar


14 million in all.

Not soldiers in battle....more
Matt
Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is about the worst place that ever existed in the world: that unfortunate slice of Europe ruled by the two evilest people who ever inhabited our earth: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

Imagine a Venn diagram of evil. The left (west) loop is Hitler; the right (east) loop in Stalin. And in the middle, where the two circles overlap, is the bloodlands, extending “from central Poland to western Russia, through Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States.” From 1933 to 1945, 14...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I was raised amongst survivors of the great horror that was the War in Eastern Europe. My mother endured forced labour under the Soviets in 1940 and slave labour under the Nazis after 1941. She saw some of her family being deported by the Soviets to almost certain death in Kazakhstan and discovered the rest in a mass grave, shot by the Nazis. Her best friend survived Auschwitz. My Godfather was a partizan in the forests around Lwow, fighting both Nazis and Soviets. My Godmother lived through the...more
Sylvia
I always thought I knew a good deal of what happened during World War II. Both my parents were adults and have told me and my sisters a lot about it. I still care for the little diary my mother kept, collecting all kind of illegal newspapers and forbidden cartoons.

Last year I read about this book and I was curious what could be told more. Well I got my share and more than I desired. I have finished it for the first time, but I surely have to read it another time and another, for there is much t...more
Chris Mallows
Oct 18, 2010 Chris Mallows marked it as to-read
The Economist:

IN THE middle of the 20th century Europe’s two totalitarian empires, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, killed 14m non-combatants, in peacetime and in war. The who, why, when, where and how of these mass murders is the subject of a gripping and comprehensive new book by Timothy Snyder of Yale University.
The term coined in the book’s title encapsulates the thesis. The “bloodlands” are the stretch of territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea where Europe’s most murderous regime...more
Dawne
This book should be required reading of all world citizens. Timothy Snyder outlines the policies and actions of Hitler and Stalin between 1933 and 1945 and the effect they had on the people living in Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic states). The Nazis and the Soviets, murdered over 14 million people in direct mass murder campaigns and actions. This does not count the millions of soldiers lost or the casualties of civilian life and death in wartime, but only the del...more
Tanya
It is oft said that history is written by the victors, and this was the case with World War II. Americans and Brits largely wrote the story of the war in the Pacific, Western Europe and North Africa. But the Russians took the lead in establishing collective memory of the war on the Eastern front, consciously shaped history to fit their ideology, and suppressed any evidence that contradicted their narrative. The outcome had to support their concept of the Great Patriotic War wherein all casualtie...more
David
In a recent New Yorker interview Martin Amis quoted W.G. Sebald who said that "no serious person ever thinks about anything else except Hitler and Stalin."

Not one person in ten thousand knows the extent and depth of the killing perpetrated by the Soviets and Nazis in the "Bloodlands" (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, western Russia and the Baltic states) between 1933 and 1953.
Brendan Hodge
The Holocaust and World War II are probably two of the most freqently covered tropics in twenties century history, yet in Bloodlands Timothy Snyder brings a truly fresh and revealing perspective to what might otherwise seem an often covered topic. This is, quite simply, one of the best history books I have read.

Snyder looks at the mass killing campaigns of both Hitler and Stalin in the are between Germany and Russia, from 1930 to 1947. Thus, he starts with the manufactured famine in Ukraine, cov...more
Clif Hostetler
This is history that deserves to be read, if for no other reason, to acknowledge the individual lives of so many innocent people deliberately murdered. We’re not talking war casualties or so-called collateral wartime deaths. We’re talking civilians sentenced to death by deliberate national policy. Sometimes they were targeted because of national, political, or ethnic reasons. Sometimes they were targeted for no particular discernible reason.

The author does a good job of balancing the numbingly...more
Mikey B.
An account of what happened in the lands between Hitler and Stalin from 1933 to 1952 (the year Stalin died). These consist of the countries of present day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the western part of the Russian Federation.

The principal thesis of the author is that we should not look at these lands as being affected by just one of the two evil dictators. We cannot look at the history of this land as simple chronology, acting in different time slots. The very boun...more
Vincent
Bloodlands is a book that is both deeply disturbing and compelling. It describes an area from the North Sea to the Crimean Sea and from Eastern Poland to Western Ukraine that was the scene of millions of deaths between 1933 - 1949. Caught between Stalin and Hitler it's population was intentionally starved, robbed, abused, tortured and killed in planned, organized and capricious decisions of the two greatest mass murders of the twentieth century.

In a recent New York Times article, author Martin A...more
David Singerman
Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands"

I don't know enough about Eastern-European history to address Snyder's claim that the mass killing of fourteen million people in Poland, Belarus, the Baltic states and western Russia was "the central event" of modern European history. But that certainly seems like a plausible claim, or rather it seems difficult to imagine an event that could be more significant for the history of the continent. Even an invading army can pass over a land like a wave and leave society...more
John
A perceptive account of what the author identifies as the bloodlands, an area where Nazi and Soviet governmental policies deliberately mass murdered fourteen million of their own citizens from the years 1933 to 1945. Geographically the bloodlands stretched from central Poland to western Russia including Belarus, the Ukraine and the Baltic States. Shockingly, the count is of civilians, civilians who were the target of demented ideology and formal policy and who met their doom through starvation -...more
Holly
A book that suggests that the Holocaust and mass killings of the World War II-era were worse, that's right, worse, than we were taught to believe. Snyder shows that "the image of the German concentration camps as the worst element of National Socialism is an illusion," and
The American and British soldiers who liberated the dying inmates from camps in Germany believed that they had discovered the horrors of Nazism. The images their photographers and cameramen captured of the corpses and the livi
...more
Brian Leach
Apr 04, 2011 Brian Leach rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: history buffs, WWII history fans
Shelves: history
The Bloodlands are a region of Eastern Europe that suffered more in the 20th century than anywhere else on Earth. These lands were conquered by Stalin, then Hitler, and then Stalin again. Snyder compares and contrasts the atrocities committed by these infamous world leaders who were very different in their tactics even if their desired outcomes were the same.

Within the Bloodlands Ukrainians suffered more than any other population. Details are shared in this book about their plight that will haun...more
Jonathan Yu
The Bloodlands is a book that I first noticed in a review on Slate. At the time, the review noted several atrocities that the book includes in its pages. I read the review and determined that it made sense to get this book.

This book is not a book to be enjoyed. Not a book to be loved. Not a book to sit down and just "read". This is a book that you experience, slog through, and weep on. It destroys your belief in humanity, your optimism for human brotherhood, and causes you to feel unending grie...more
Lily
Apparently there was a controversy surrounding this book because it spend enough time talking about the Holocaust. I think that is complete bullshit. There was another equally horrifying act of atrocity taking place on the Western Front during World War II, and why should a book not focus on that topic? Also, it's not like Timothy Snyder totally painted over the Holocaust. He dedicated two chapters to the subject, and he clearly wanted to focus on the "Bloodlands" of the title. Excluding those k...more
Tripp
This is an excellent, but brutally difficult book to read. The thesis is that Hitler and Stalin existed in a terrible symbiotic relationship that enabled, empowered and and expanded their respective terrors.

As a prime example, Snyder points to the horrors the Nazis inflicted in the East. He notes that many of the people who carried out the terrors were not Nazis or even German. They were local. These people had been so brutalized by years of Stalinist horror that they simply went along with it i...more
jean marc desfilhes

Reading this Book is a terrible Thing to do. I thought i knew European History, at least the broad lines of what has happened during the last century. A lot of historians and scholars have collected important and disturbing informations concerning the second world war, but for the first time I could have a view of what happened on a part of my continent far away from the place were I live (France). Without this book I wouldn't have been able to understand so clearly the nationalist tensions whic...more
Brad Eastman
Although very well written, I found this book very difficult to read. The book is an important history of a region about which Americans seem to know little, However, be prepared to feel very pessimistic about humanity as you read this work. Mr. Snyder chronicles the fate of those areas subject to both German and Soviet control in the 30's and 40's. We know of the brutality of the Germans and we have heard of the brutality of Stalin, but Mr. Snyder chronicles the brutality on both a historical a...more
Frimet Goldberger
I read this book as a required text for my Holocaust seminar at Sarah Lawrence College. This was a relatively new book when we began the course, and within weeks it gained tremendous popularity. This is, by far, the most in-depth, groundbreaking, and also fascinating work on what Timothy Snyder calls the "Bloodlands", the zone between Berlin and Moscow.

The essence of the book is a comparison of the motives and approaches of Hitler and Stalin. Where we think of Hitler as the ultimate evil, we te...more
WM Rine
Beginning in the mid-1930s and continuing through the end of World War II and beyond, Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, men of two supposedly different ideologies, made a killing ground of the region between their two countries, both in the name of bringing new and better regimes to the world. What we know of as the Holocaust was only one part of this, and the killing in concentration camps we know was only one of the many methods, and not the most common. Snyder documents the the many plans and ac...more
Andrew Griffith
It is a powerful book, capturing the atrocities committed by both Stalin, in the name of collectivization and the ‘revolution’, and Hitler, in the name of ethnic purity and cleansing, and the linkages between the two, in a manner that does not diminish the centrality of the Holocaust in terms of the unprecedented nature of the ‘final solution’. There is a fair amount of controversy on this point to which Snyder replies to in this article. Given my work with affected communities, very helpful to...more
John
I find it somewhat challenging to so highly rate a book dealing with such unspeakable tragedy, but Synders book on the horrors inflicted by both Hitler and Stalin is thoroughly researched and dynamically told. This work details the unfortunate middle lands of central europe (poland, belarus, the estonian baltic countries, and several others) who were trapped between the megalomania of Germany and the Soviets during and around WW2. Although the holocaust portion of this book was well reviewed, I...more
Chris
Is it just me or does it seem very strange that the Germans in WW II had an Operation Easter Bunny, which dealt with killing? My mind is blown and a more corherent review might come later.

This books is one of the those books that you like but don't like reading. It is about the area of Poland and other later parts of Eastern Europe during WW II and afterwards. Snyder focuses on Poland and the Urakine for the most part. He examines the high rate of death and the reasons behind it, how Stalin and...more
Tamara
Sweeping, meticulous, wearying. In many ways an admirable book, but i'm not sure it's a needful one.

Perhaps because, maybe due to being a Ukrainian Jew, the Holocaust and Soviet history have always been fairly prominent in my sense of European history, theres little here thats strictly new, and much of it learned in school. (Some poignant episodes I hadn't heard of, others that i'm familiar with missing.)

Due to the narrow focus (mass murder) the ideology and politics that led there are given f...more
Clayton
Thanks to Timothy Snyder's flawless scholarship we finally have an accurate assessment and explanation of the mass killings at the hands of Stalin and Hitler. They occurred not in the Holocaust as we've come to understand it but rather in the Bloodlands, the area between Russia and Germany where millions died long before we ever heard the name Auschwitz. Snyder shows us that the label 'Holocaust' is woefully misrepresentative and misses more than half of World War II and the build-up to it. Ausc...more
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What’s the Bleakest Book You've Read? Here’s My Nominee 6 32 Mar 15, 2014 07:42PM  
  • Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe
  • The Third Reich At War (The History of the Third Reich, #3)
  • Ivan's War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939-1945
  • Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Extermination, 1939-1945
  • The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45
  • The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War
  • A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army
  • Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944
  • After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation
  • Berlin at War: Life and Death in Hitler's Capital, 1939-45
  • Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945
  • The Bitter Road to Freedom: A New History of the Liberation of Europe
  • Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II
  • Moscow 1941: A City And Its People At War
  • Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War
  • Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947
  • The Crimean War
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Timothy Snyder received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has held fellowships in Paris and Vienna, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.

He is the author of Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (Harvard University Press, 1998, Halecki Prize); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukr...more
More about Timothy Snyder...
The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 The Red Prince Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist's Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1872-1905) Stalin and Europe: Imitation and Domination, 1928-1953

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“It is easy to sanctify policies or identities by the deaths of victims. It is less appealing, but morally more urgent, to understand the actions of the perpetrators. The moral danger, after all, is never that one might become a victim but that one might be a perpetrator or a bystander.” 8 likes
“When meaning is drawn from killing, the risk is that more killing would bring more meaning.” 4 likes
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