Julie's Reviews > Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution

Reckonings by Mary Fulbrook
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bookshelves: non-fiction, own, vine

This is a big book and it contains a lot of very dense material dealing with the heavy topic of finding justice after WWII, and it’s no wonder it took me more than 3 months to read with a considerable break halfway. This will be a quote-centric review because I can hardly articulate some of the finer points that Fulbrook makes as well as she did.

The first third of the book deals with how the Nazis systematically persecuted various groups including the invalid, Jews, and homosexuals. The obvious set up is establishing motives: “For those involved in killing, varying combinations of careerism, cowardice, conformity, fear, lust, brutalization, hopelessness, desire for reward, choosing the lesser of two evils, simply ‘doing one’s duty’ or ‘obeying orders,’ or fitting in with what others were doing could all play a role.” Then there’s the concept of assigning blame: “Culpability was broadly if unevenly distributed, between the instigation, design, and administration of different forms of oppression; the execution of brutality on the ground; and the ambivalent complicity of daily decisions to turn away, to not see, not register the inhumanity that was so evident all around.” On the other end of the spectrum of identifying perpetrators was how it so easily dehumanized its victims: “In the process of persecution, people were stigmatized; their individuality was stripped from them; they became simply members of categories for discrimination, exploitation, punishment.”

The second part of the book deals with serving justice when it was possible. I had no idea that there were so many more trials that took place besides the famed Nuremburg trials and how differently countries like East and West Germany and Austria approached convictions. I have to admit, so much of this became bogged down with redundancies, I skipped quite a bit of this section except when it came to the Eichmann trial and its significance.

The last chunk of the book deals with the Holocaust’s legacy. Again, there were a lot of redundancies about survivor guilt, how the second generation (children of both Nazi’s and survivors) was coping, and memorials to victims. I skimmed much of it but found a few profound sections to read. “The soil of Europe is drenched with the blood of millions, pockmarked by innumerable sites of suffering and brutality. The landscape bears traces, some strikingly evident and others far less visible, of the Nazi architecture of exploitation and genocide.” This book seeks to extract lessons from the aftermath of this terrible period in history, and it’s an important topic, but its density and minutiae do not make for an engaging read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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Reading Progress

February 14, 2019 – Shelved
February 14, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
February 14, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
February 14, 2019 – Shelved as: own
February 14, 2019 – Shelved as: vine
March 19, 2019 – Started Reading
April 5, 2019 –
page 231
June 26, 2019 – Finished Reading

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