I have ... misgivings about this. I mean, a character named Rose Justice? That seems a little heavy-handed, even (maybe especially) if the name is anI have ... misgivings about this. I mean, a character named Rose Justice? That seems a little heavy-handed, even (maybe especially) if the name is an allusion to the White Rose resistance group. And on top of that, she is American. Yes, there were American GIs who ended up in camps, and even a few American civilians. (Mildred Fish-Harnack and Eddy Hamel, possibly others I didn't find reference to after a quick search.)
I'm reminded of Mari Ness's remark about Madeleine L'Engle's work: "in three books dealing with Holocaust survivors and victims, all of the survivors and victims just happened to be heroic French Resistance fighters — instead of the actual Jews, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, gypsies, Poles, Communists, Russians and other marginalized groups who were the chief Nazi victims."
I mean, sometimes the story you want to tell is the story you want to tell, or it's hard to do research about someone of a more plausible nationality because of a language barrier or a lack of published material. Or you do things to attempt to broaden commercial appeal. But, ng.
But then I read that Anna Engel — an interesting, complicated character from Code Name Verity — reappears in this book, and that Wein said that that was her favorite character. Soooo ... I guess I'll read this to see what happens with Anna, and if there are any more comments about her in the author's note....more
It's a book designed to teach basic origami and cryptography to children. Two great tastes that taste great together! And it has directions for makingIt's a book designed to teach basic origami and cryptography to children. Two great tastes that taste great together! And it has directions for making an origami submarine! I am almost at sparklyblinkingtext levels of squee, and I hate sparkly blinking text.
I received a time-limited digital review copy of this from Netgalley. Full review coming soon....more
Perhaps more like 3.5 ... reading subject to adjustment once I write my actual review. I won't be surprised if it takes as long to do that as it did tPerhaps more like 3.5 ... reading subject to adjustment once I write my actual review. I won't be surprised if it takes as long to do that as it did to read the book.
Notes below the spoiler tag. More as aide memoire for myself - they probably won't be too useful if you haven't read the book. I had to truncate them because I hit the character limit.
(view spoiler)[Forward: Hitler and Stalin killed a lot of people. Surprisingly, some primary sources remain: notes flung from train windows and journals of the dead. Introduction: World War I left things settled. Boundaries, nationalism, language, political power. (1) Soviets screwed up food production in Ukraine. Blamed the farmers and accused them of trying to sabotage collectivism. Death, starvation, cannibalism. (2) No notes (3) Stalin purged Polish Soviets from eastern area — he worried about Japanese and Chinese aggression. In Germany: Aryanization of Jewish property. Chamberlain handing over part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler. Germany planning to conquer Poland, abandoning idea of alliance. Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement to attack Poland and divide up other countries.
(4) Germany and USSR invade Poland. Much deportation and internment of POWs and Jews. Also executions.
Phony war ends; France falls; USSR annexes Baltic States.
By June '41 USSR and Poland were allies because Germany invaded USSR.
(5) Wehrmacht vs Red Army 22 June 1941 - Germany invades Russia (Operation Barbarossa) 10 million soldiers killed; low # of civilians in bombing, while fleeing famine or disease; German army killed ~20 million others, including 5 million Jews and 3 million POWs
Start of third period: 1st 1933-38, USSR "carried out almost all of the mass killing"; '39-'41, balanced; '41-'45 Germans responsible for almost all
(Chapter 5, card 2) Questions Snyder sees as important concerning those stages:
(1) How could the Soviets make alliances with Nazis? (2) Why did Germans break alliance?: "What was it about the Nazi and Soviet systems that permitted mutually advantageous cooperation between 1939 and 1941, but also the most destructive war in human history, between 1941 and 1945?"
(Chapter 5, card 3) Answers to previous questions: "Socialism in one county" was a compromise Stalin had already made — the Soviet state representing socialism against continuing imperialism in the world. Once you've already made one compromise, what's one more when you are surrounded by evil on all sides? Germany and USSR could agree about destruction of Poland for different reasons (elimination of "artificially educated ... subhumanity" vs. upper class destruction).
(Chapter 5, card 4) Stalin expected the alliance to end eventually, but not in '41. Author says this is a recasting of argument made in Ch 1-3, and to see Mulligan, Politics of Illusion.
Snyder argues that concerns of Stalin and Hitler are mostly pragmatic — territory.
(Chapter 5, card 5) Hitler had made territorial gains , conquered France, and was "backed by Soviet what and oil" ... why turn on USSR? Hitler and Stalin both wanted large land empires, self-sufficient in agriculture and with a citizenry motivated by ideology. This was their idea for overcoming their lack of naval power and access to world markets. Stalin was defending economic revolution; Hitler needed war for economic transformation.
(Chapter 5, card 6) Stalin: collectivization = internal colonization Hitler: colonies could still be seized abroad (the USSR) Hitler was unable to establish air superiority in Britain and didn't have the ships to transport an invasion force. He needed to eliminate Britain as the power controlling the sea lanes so he could transport European Jews to Madagascar. He invaded Soviet Union because he needed the food "so that no one is able to starve us again like in the last war." (British could blockade.)
(Chapter 5, card 7) Conquering USSR (specifically Ukraine) would allow Germany to become a US-style superpower. ("another hardy frontier state based upon exterminatory colonialism and slave labor.") It was part of Nazi strategic planning to kill by starvation (many in USSR territories) to feed Germany. ("Hunger Plan")
27 Sept 1940: Tripartite Pact between Rome, Berlin, Tokyo. Japanese wanted to combine with Germany to default Britain and control the seas.
(Chapter 5, card 8) Hitler was not terribly interested in the alternative the Japanese proposed. In the meantime, Stalin was receiving many reports that Hitler was going to break Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, but ignored them. Snyder calls this "greatest miscalculation of Stalin's career." Expecting that the campaign would take 3 months and be "child's play" was the "greatest miscalculation of Hitler's career." German troops were not able to run collective farms as efficiently as Soviets.
(Chapter 5, card 9) Troops started running into supply/food problems. also they had no winter coats. So German soldiers started dying of hunger and cold. Three cities were starved: Kiev, Kharkiv, Leningrad. Hunger Plan was never fully implemented. Also, the invasion was by no means successful in toppling USSR. German POW camps were first death camps. Deliberate Starvation. "As many Soviet prisoners of war died on a single given day in autumn in 1941 as did British and American prisoners of war over the course of the entire Second War."
(Chapter 5, card 10) Failed Final Solutions: * Sending Jews to USSR (Stalin didn't want) * Send to Madagascar (not enough ships, British had control of the sealanes) * Exile in Soviet Union, worked to death, sent across Urals, Siberia (unable to defeat USSR)
Many Soviet prisoners conscripted for labor in Germany, including in concentration/death camps
Hitler's "henchmen" — Göring, Himmler, Heydrich — had to try to pick up the pieces after Hunger Plan and Generalplan Ost and Operation Barbarossa failed. They saw Final Solution as achievable. So to keep Hitler happy and maintain their positions, they they implemented this. They started in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, using killing corps of local collaborators. Nazis used Soviet killing as propaganda opportunity, blamed Jewish communists.
(Chapter 6, card 2) The killings of Jews by army, higher SS, and police were expanded into Ukraine and what had been western Poland by August 1941. Also Belarus. Stalin began deporting ethnic German Soviets to Kazakhstan in late August; in mid-September, Hitler decided to deport German Jews to Minsk, Riga, Kaunus, and Kódź. (Took effect in Oct, Nov.) This created population pressure in Kódź; by Dec 1941 gassing facilities were under construction in Chełmno and Bełżec. "The Final Solution as mass murder ... was spreading to the West."
(Chapter 6, card 3) Late Nov - Stalin commits his Eastern Reserve, having heard from "a highly placed informer" in Tokyo" that Japan would not attack Siberia. (Who was the informer? No sourcing.)
5 Dec - Red Army on offensive. "German soldiers tasted defeat. Their exhausted horses could not move their equipment back quickly enough. "German soldiers would spend winter in cold, short on everything." Note 49 - Snyder agrees that food shortages made a difference (more than seen in English writing generally) but that it was not [unreadable]. [Something about Hitler's policy and ideology?]
(Chapter 6, card 4) Of course at the same time Germans were stuck outside in winter ... Japan was about to bomb Pearl Harbor. Hitler and Stalin both wanted Japan to stay out of USSR and focus on Pacific. Japanese wanted Hitler to make peace with Stalin — Germany was at war with US, UK, and USSR, with no real land base. Japanese wanted to break British naval power, Germans tried to work within it. Of course it couldn't possibly be that everything was screwed up because of German mistakes: it must be a Jewish conspiracy.
(Chapter 6, card 5) See notes 53 and 54 — Hitler responsible for Jewish extermination policy that much recent scholarship apparently ascribes to Himmler. Nazi view: Germans were not defeated on battlefield in World War I but backstabbed by Jewish conspiracy.
Expected outcome of Soviet campaign was 500k dead if victorious? Yikes. (Actual losses approached 1 million by December.) There was also mass killing in Serbia — killing populace as partisans, retribution 100:1 — which for some reason wasn't mentioned before.
(Chapter 6, card 6) "Resettlement" as euphemism for mass killing. German ally Romania killed 300k Jews in occupied Ukraine but later softened its policies toward Jews when it was apparent war was lost, and attempted to switch sides later in war. 1942: most Jews in occupied territories were killed.
1941 - much killing of Jews in Minsk (Belarus). "On any given day in teh second half of 1941, the Germans shot more Jews than had been killed by pogroms in the entire history of the Russian Empire." Stalin didn't care about killing of Jews per se, but about how to use it against Germans as propaganda weapon. Hitler claimed Allies were fighting for Jews; Allies replied they were fighting for liberate oppressed nations generally.
(Chapter 7, card 2) There was a Jewish/communist underground in Minsk. Much partisan activity, which Germans greatly feared.
NKVD vans = "black ravens", "soul destroyers"
By 1943 Germans were more worried about labor shortages than food shortages, and their policy shifted in Belarus.
Not shooting children before tossing them in pits was common; also roving gas vans.
Less killing of men, but women and children were still shot.
(Chapter 7, card 3) Result: Germany became more Slavic than ever because of labor imports.
Many of the Belarusian territories were previously Polish. So there were Polish partisans and civilians too, who were sometimes shot by Soviet forces when they wouldn't comply with Moscow.
"As everywhere else in the Occupied Soviet Union, the Germans had succeeded in making most people wish for a return of Soviet rule. A German propaganda specialist sent to Belarus reported that there was nothing he could possibly tell the population."
(Chapter 7, card 4) There were some attempts to woo the population when it was realized that "mass terror was failing." there were mostly dumb and didn't work. Belarus chapter likely included as an exmaple of how "Nazi and Soviet systems overlapped and interacted." Of territorial interest to both Germans and Soviets "By the end of the war, half the population of Belarus had either been killed or moved." Germans "intended worse than they achieved." Failure of Hunger Plan, Generalplan Ost; crematorium for Mahileu [Mahilyow, Mogilëv] went to Auschwitz instead.
Bełżec gassing facility based on gas vans. Building connected to a vehicle's engine.
March 1942 - "an unambiguous policy to destroy the major Jewish population of Europe" in General Government section of occupied Poland. Hitler wanted Jews dead — the timing of their deaths was based on whether Germans were more concerned with food or labor. Polish government in exile urged US and UK to retaliate against German civilians. Polish Home Army considered attack on Treblinka but didn't.
(Chapter 8, card 2) Women's hair was used to make stockings for railway workers and to line the slippers worn by German submarine crews.
Jews were made to labor in death camps. As sabotage — to leave evidence — they made sure some skeletons were intact and buried messages in bottles.
(Chapter 8, card 3) Auschwitz main killing site for Jews beyond Poland. 100k Roma and Sinti killed by Germans. (At least that — more likely 2-3 times that figure.)
Chapter 9 (second half of 8-3)
21 June 1944 — partisans detonated Belarus rail. 22 June - Operation Bagration — German army couldn't retreat or be reinforced when Red Army attacked. (Important Soviet victory.) 2 weeks before, Americans joined battle for Europe - D-Day.
(Chapter 9, card 2) Non-Jewish Poles "suffered horribly ... but comparably" from German and Soviet occupations. For Polish Jews the Red Army were liberators. (Albeit too late for most.) 1943 and 1944 Warsaw uprising destroyed the city. By Jan 1945 arrival of Red Army, it was deserted. Various armed resistance groups form. Resistance from inside the ghetto once it became clear that the Germans were going to kill everyone. (Warsaw Ghetto Uprising) One year before uprising — Home Army alerted US and UK to gassing and deportation of Polish Jews.
(Chapter 9, card 3) They thought publicizing killings and deportations would stop them — not so much. Poles were only western Allies to take direct action to stop killing of Jews. (Żegota) Government in exile spoke out; Home Army tried to support uprising. After crushing of uprising surviving Jews met mixed reception from Poles, including the Home Army. Nov 1942-1943 — 300 Polish villages emptied as partial implementation of Generalplan Ost.
(Chapter 9, card 4) Poles began to resist more actively, fearing that they were going to get the Treblinka treatment (which some of them did).
Concentration Camp Warsaw - build on ruins of the ghetto. Labor camp: destroy remaining buildings, search for valuables; look for Jews in hiding.
"Although their British and American allies could afford to have illusions about Stalin, Polish officers and politicians could not."
(Chapter 9, card 5) Stalin was a more important ally the Poles to US and UK. London and Washington had agreed to give eastern half of prewar Poland to USSR. Tehran summit 1943. Uprisings in Poland, German response and reprisal killings. Stalin encouraged uprising and propaganda promised assistance which did not arrive. Churchill eventually asked Stalin in help with uprising; he refused. "Great Britain had gone to war five years earlier on the question of Polish independence, which it was now unable to protect from its Soviet ally." British press often echoed Stalinist line that the Poles were adventurous and wayward. Orwell and Koestler protested.
(Chapter 9, card 6) Stalin also denied Americans refueling bases in Russia to prevent them from bombing German positions in Poland until it wouldn't make any difference. Warsaw Uprising "brought Stalin's ruthlessness to the attention of the American and British." In a sense it this was the beginning of post World War II Cold War confrontation. Last few months of war — 300k people died in camps in Germany. Americans and British thought Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald were "worst crimes of Hitler." Snyder says Warsaw, Treblinka, Belarus, Babi Yar were worse.
"All of the death sites and dead cities fell behind an iron curtain, in a Europe Stalin made his own even while liberating it from Hitler."
Stalin had plans for Poland, including making it Polish only. Us and UK did not object, in fact seemed to agree. (Yalta, Potsdam.) They expected a democratic Poland. Much ethnic cleaning of Germans. (Civilian and soldiers.) Czechoslovakia also deported its 3 million Germans — marched them across border starting in May 1945. Germans were moved to camps in Poland. Poles ended up beholden to Stalin/communists for their borders.
(Chapter 10, card 2) Polish regime held elections but falsified the results. Polish prime minister in exile had to re-flee Poland. Poles were obligated to leave formerly Polish now Ukrainian territories.
(Chapter 10, card 3) 900k Soviet Germans and 90k Finns deported in 1941 and 1942.
(Chapter 10, card 4) Some 700k Germans, 150k Poles, 750k Ukrainians died during postwar ethnic cleansing. "Once the war was over, the task was to insulate the Russian nation, and of course all of the other nations, from cultural infection. One of the most dangerous intellectual plagues would be interpretations of the war that differed from Stalin's own." Stalin's mythic concept was that Russians won the war.
(Chapter 10, card 5) Stalin worried about exposure to the West. "Stalin could reject Marshall aid and force his clients to reject it as well, but he couldn't banish the knowledge that Soviet citizens had gained during the war. Every returning Soviet soldier and forced laborer knew that standards of living in the rest of Europe, even in relatively poor countries such as Romania and Poland, were far higher than in the Soviet Union."
(Chapter 10, card 6) Communists took over Albania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia. Snyder wonders how communism could be sustained in these countries — they were more developed than USSR, had higher standards of living.
(Chapter 10, card 7) Stalin put his propaganda minister, Andrei Zhdanov, in charge of reconciling all this. He "also had to account for the new rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States in a way that the east European leader could apply in their own countries." Zhdanov's idea: US would "inherit all the flaws of degenerate capitalism" and collapse.
Chapter 11 The number of numbers killed by Germans in the Soviet Union was a state secret because it revealed that Jews were targeted/more Jews were killed.
(Chapter 11, card 2) Soviets and Allies agreed war was not to be understood as for Jewish liberation - "best understood as one aspect of a generally wicked Nazi occupation" "Declaration Concerning Atrocities" issued in Moscow in Oct 1943 by Stalin, Churchill, Roosevelt - Jews not mentioned "Reticence about racial murder" was either reluctance to endorse Hitler's worldview, or concession to popular anti-Semitism
(Chapter 11, card 3) Stalin wanted a way to present the war that would flatter Russians and marginalize other groups. Official Soviet history left out that USSR was partner in invasion of Poland and therefore started the war. Much whitewashing - that Soviet occupation was bad, that Jews were principal victims of Nazi. [These things were omitted.]
Too many people had seen non-Soviet life now to think that Soviet norms/likes were the only/best ones.
(Chapter 11, card 4) USSR was originally friendly and helpful to Israel; but by 1948 Stalin felt Jews influenced USSR more than USSR influenced Israel. Late '48 and '49 "public life ... veered toward anti-Semitism." Beginnings of persecution of Jews, their removal from official institutions.
(Chapter 11, card 5) Polish Jews were persecuted in Poland even after war; many chose to emigrate or US or Israel. Purges and show trials continued in Poland.
(Chapter 11, card 6) 1950-1952 - Korean War "sharpened Stalin's concerns about American power."
(Chapter 11, card 7) "Even in defeat, Japan had changed the politics of East Asia." (360)
(Chapter 11, card 8) Stalin was ambivalent because Mao was not a client. Stalin wanted to be certain USSR retained leadership of communist world.
(Chapter 11, card 9) No organized famine or mass shooting by security organs of Soviet Union after Stalin. (Other agencies though?) "Stalinist anti-Semitism haunted eastern Europe long after the death of Stalin. It was rarely a major tool of governance, but it was always available in moments of political stress." Reappeared in Poland in 1968.
(Chapter 11, card 10) "Stalinism had displaced east European Jews from their historical position as victims of the Germans, and embedded them instead in an account of imperialist conspiracy of their own. ... And thus communists' hesitation to distinguish and definite Hitler's major crime tended, as the decades passed, to confirm an aspect of Hitler's worldview." (376)
"Stalinist anti-Semitism in Moscow, Prague, and Warsaw killed only a handful of people, but it confused the European past." (376)
Now that Iron Curtain has lifted we can see/learn about "history of Europe between Hitler and Stalin." (hide spoiler)]...more
I'll probably go back to this at some point instead of simply abandoning it. But right now I'm kind of irked that I got conned into reading (view spoiI'll probably go back to this at some point instead of simply abandoning it. But right now I'm kind of irked that I got conned into reading (view spoiler)[an Arthurian story. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .... (hide spoiler)]
End date approximate, but I eventually did go back and re-read the whole series. Thoughts — more like spoilerific venting — available here....more