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Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

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4.36  ·  Rating details ·  9,624 ratings  ·  952 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 August 11th 2010)
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Jacco First off, German 'national socialism' is very different from 'socialism' in the country, as the author writes: both communists and socialists were th…moreFirst off, German 'national socialism' is very different from 'socialism' in the country, as the author writes: both communists and socialists were the first enemies of the Nazi party, and the first ones to be eradicated.

As for your question: yes, at some point the author says that when the Germans discovered thousands of people in mass graves in occupied Soviet Union (victims of Stalin's paranoia), they used this for propaganda purposes. The atrocities were used in Germany, to instill fear of the Soviet Union and the supposedly Jewish conspiracy behind it. It was one of their justifications for the atrocities committed against Jews and Soviet prisoners of war, among others.

Also, many collaborators in the Bloodlands had to make a rational decision, not an ethical one: which of the two warring parties is going to keep me and my family alive? Since there was almost equal fear of Soviet and German occupiers in the Bloodlands, almost no-one had the opportunity to make a moral stand against injustices. This meant that very few German soldiers/policemen were able to kill a lot of people in occupied territory: they just had a lot of help of local people.(less)

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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
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
Nov 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii, top-10-2011
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
BlackOxford
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
History As Intention and Response

History can be told in several ways: as a textbook-like sequence of events and dates; as a moral tale; as a story of the strong or of the weak; from the point of view of the victors or the vanquished; as an account of divine providence or satanic interference. Snyder has a particularly engaging method of narrating history: as intention and response to circumstances. According to his title one could conceive his subject as the history of a specific geographical re
...more
Matt
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-ii
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
Clif Hostetler
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Manray9
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
The history told in Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin is not a revelation. Readers familiar with the works of Robert Conquest, Daniel Goldhagen, Anne Applebaum, or Halik Kochanski have read it all before. Snyder presents it with a new perspective, concentrating on the plight of the minority peoples caught between the two ideological empires of the mid-twentieth century – Ukrainians, Belorussians, Balts, Roma, Russians, Germans, Poles, Jews – all pawns of Hitler and St ...more
Marc
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having read hundreds of books on World War II, it's pretty rare to come across a book which covers a topic I'm not very familiar with. However, the subject of the Holocaust is one which I've avoided mostly because it's just too damn depressing, and while this book covers a broader topic it's probably one I would have skipped in the past. I'm glad I didn't skip this one.

The author defines the Bloodlands as the lands between pre-war Nazi Germany and the western edge of the Russian Republic, predom
...more
Ray
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Bloodlands. The poor beknighted ribbon of land caught between Hitler and Stalin, monstrous merciless dictators, with their absolutist ideologies and willing apparatchiks. Comprising the Baltic states, Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine, fourteen million of whose civilian inhabitants died as a result of deliberate policies of extermination or neglect.

It started even before the Second World War, with three million Ukrainians starved so that Stalin could claim victory in his collectivisaton drive. Man
...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
David M
Jun 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reading this book is a painful experience, and when it's not painful it's even worse because you realize you've become desensitized by statistics, the sheer number of deaths. Starting with the planned famine in Ukraine, and then each subsequent chapter gets - I won't say 'worse'; it's maybe a little vulgar to try and quantify these things. Each subsequent chapter details something horrific enough to defy belief, and the scale of killing keeps increasing (even though what Stalin did to Ukraine wa ...more
Tanya
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, i-own-it, history
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
Dawne
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Greg Brozeit
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Like all good works of history, Bloodlands poses as many questions as it seeks to explain and answers many more. The recapitulation of the mass killings perpetrated under the Stalin and Hitler regimes has never before been so explicit and thorough. But I would argue that Snyder is too meticulous in drawing lines and categorizations—although I completely understand and respect his methodology—in that they do not completely live up to the theme and subtitle of his concluding chapter: humanity. But ...more
Nooilforpacifists
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Not for the faint-hearted…or for bedtime reading. A lengthy, methodical study of the 14 million civilians murdered by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia between 1933-1945. Snyder doesn't so much ask "How?", but Who?" and "Why?". His contribution is sorting out sequences and ethnic minorities (Kulaks, Ukraines, Roma, etc.) in the serial purges. Also, over and over, he faces the question: "Who are the Jews?"--nationals of their country (Poland, Lithuania, etc.) or inter-national tribe. And in bringing ...more
Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun)
As good as it is grim
Chris Mallows
Oct 18, 2010 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
David
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mehrsa
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very good (and quite long) history of the holocaust and the gulag and all the horrible things humans have done to other humans. So important
Brendan Hodge
Sep 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Holly
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-reads
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
Brad Eastman
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Boudewijn
A historical research to the mass murders committed by Stalin and Hitler before and during the Second World War

Together, the nazi and soviet regime massmurdered more than 14 million people. The murders were started in the early 1930's, when Stalin deliberatedly let more than 3 million people starve to death in the Ukraine. It continued with the Great Terror in 1937 and 1938, where approximatedly 700.000 people were shot. During the partition of Poland, both Germany and Russia worked together to
...more
Clif
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
With World War One, the idea that civilization had progressed was dashed as millions of men in uniform were sent into a meat grinder where little progress on the battlefield was made, no one knew how to break the deadlock, and more of the same became automatic.

Yet one thing remained largely unimaginable: the deliberate wholesale slaughter of civilians. World War Two was to break that barrier and it was on the eastern front where Hitler's Wehrmacht faced the Red Army that a slaughter of epic prop
...more
Jonathan Yu
Jul 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Rick Riordan
Nov 07, 2013 rated it liked it
After our trip through the Baltic this summer, Snyder’s historical account of the mass killings in Eastern Europe had a big impact on me. I’ve now seen a lot of the places he talks about: Gdansk, Poland; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; St. Petersburg, Russia. While the atrocities of Stalin and Hitler aren’t exactly news, the sheer numbers involved and the scope of the destruction are truly staggering. I didn’t know much about Stalin’s starvation policies, or the impossibly complicated situation ...more
Christine
May 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christine by: Paul Stern
Shelves: kindle, history-wwii
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
Kitty Red-Eye
Quite massive, covering an extremely bloody and violent time and place in less than 450 pages. So obviously, It's very compact and as the topic alone reveals, terrible. But the book is very good. The subject matter is heavy, but It's not very difficult to read, thanks to the author's good organization and presentation of his study. Impressive source material, very interesting perspective with treating the Soviet-German-Soviet-occupied zones of Europe as one and telling the story about these nigh ...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
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Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences. He received his doctorate from the University of Oxford in 1997, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has held fellowships in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw, and an Academy Scholarship at Harvard.

His most recent book is Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, p
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6 likes · 1 comments
“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.” 55 likes
“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. It is tempting to say that a Nazi murderer is beyond the pale of understanding. ...Yet to deny a human being his human character is to render ethics impossible.

To yield to this temptation, to find other people inhuman, is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position. To find other people incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history.”
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