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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

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,733 ratings  ·  337 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
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
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

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
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
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
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
Γιώτα Παπαδημακοπούλου
Δεν συνηθίζω να διαβάζω τέτοιου είδους βιβλία και όσοι είστε τακτικοί αναγνώστες μου θα το γνωρίζετε πολύ καλά. Όμως, για κάποιο λόγο, "Οι Μαινάδες του Χίτλερ" είναι ένα από τα βιβλία εκείνα που η περίληψή μου μου κίνησε τόσο έντονα την περιέργεια και γέννησε μέσα μου μια πολύ ισχυρή επιθυμία να τις διαβάσω, που δεν προσπάθησα καν να αντισταθώ. Και πράγματι, δεν το μετάνιωσα ούτε για στιγμή, όχι απλά γιατί έλαβα γνώσεις που δεν είχα, ούτε επειδή είδα μια διαφορετική οπτική σκοπιά από αυτήν που σ ...more
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
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
I remember when I first read about this book, and got very excited to get my hands on a copy because 1) German history, and 2) women. It's a good take on a subject you rarely see anything written about; it's like women weren't part of history, like they did absolutely nothing during WWII. Especially when it comes to crimes and such. I liked that the author chose to focus on a few women in particular instead of making it a more and possibly vague study. The book shows how these women knew what wa ...more
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
"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
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
Zohar -
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 would not function without
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
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
This book raises an interesting issue with regards women and history. Too often women have been written out of history altogether, or otherwise relegated to the category of 'women's history' as though the doings and deeds of women were somehow completely unrelated to the mainstream of 'regular' history. HIStory, indeed. But as Wendy Lower points out, in the case of women in Nazi Germany in particular, this patriarchal attitude has led to the whitewashing of women's roles in history and has allow ...more
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 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
“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
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
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
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
I'm disappointed that I was disappointed in this book.
I was quite eager to read this one but selected to wait out the long "hold" queue at my library rather than purchase a copy. I am certainly pleased with my choice. While I had little expectation that this book would reveal any shocking new details of the role(s) of German Women during the Reich period I did expect it to be a more complete anthology of Voices of these women. It fell vastly short. The author's tone was academic and repetitive.
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.
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 (
I think I had too-high expectations. I wanted it, on some level, to explain how anyone could sink the level of the Nazis. How uniquely feminine monstrosities could arise.

Perhaps the answers are just too disquieting. That it happens easily, with a lot of complacency and a little malice. But still, I would have liked to have probed the psyches of these women more. As it is, the book comes off as an academic and detached recitation of horrors. At its best, it does attempt to delve into the worldvi
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
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
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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 Les Furies de Hitler. Comment les femmes allemandes ont participé à la Shoah (CONTEMPO.) 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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