Believe and Destroy
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Believe and Destroy : Intellectuals in the SS War Machine

3.68 (29 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

There were eighty of them. They were young, clever and cultivated; they were barely in their thirties when Adolf Hitler came to power. Their university studies in law, economics, linguistics, philosophy and history marked them out for brilliant careers. They chose to join the repressive bodies of the Third Reich, especially the Security Service (SD) and the Nazi Party s elite protection unit, the SS. They theorized and planned the extermination of twenty million individuals of allegedly inferior races. Most of them became members of the paramilitary death squads known as Einsatzgruppen and participated in the slaughter of over a million people. Based on extensive archival research, Christian Ingrao tells the gripping story of these children of the Great War, focusing on the networks of fellow activists, academics and friends in which they moved, studying the way in which they envisaged war and the world of enemies which, in their view, threatened them. The mechanisms of their political commitment are revealed, and their roles in Nazism and mass murder. Thanks to this pioneering study, we can now understand how these men came to believe what they did, and how these beliefs became so destructive. The history of Nazism, shows Ingrao, is also a history of beliefs in which a powerful military machine was interwoven with personal experiences, fervour, anguish, utopia and cruelty.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 432 pages
  • 162.56 x 238.76 x 43.18mm | 725.74g
  • Polity Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0745660266
  • 9780745660264
  • 280,577

Review quote

"a thoughtful, well researched, and well written addition to the field of perpetrator studies a work that illustrates convincingly the role of Germany s best and brightest in the prosecution of genocide." Holocaust and Genocide Studies "A chilling collective portrait of a generation blinded by the fervor of their ideology and oblivious to the suffering of others." Wall Street Journal "Packed with useful information on this important Nazi cadre." Standpoint "Presents gripping accounts of particular spectacles of violence and their role in imposing order." Los Angeles Review of Books "With this quest for understanding in mind, Ingrao has undertaken what is clearly a mammoth historical task, and ultimately written an astonishingly profound and in-depth book on a subject that ought never be forgotten." David Marx Book Reviews "This is an important and original study of ideology and experience rather than yet another catalogue of crime, and it therefore offers a different and powerful explanation for how educated men became perpetrators of mass murder." Richard Evans, University of Cambridge "How did highly educated German intellectuals of a certain generation make themselves into believing Nazis, career-minded ideologues, and practitioners of terror? In compelling detail and in a manner consistent with the best accomplishments of recent scholarship, Christian Ingrao guides us astutely and assuredly through this shockingly normalized interior world." Geoffrey Eley, University of Michiganshow more

About Christian Ingrao

Christian Ingrao is the director of the Institut de l histoire du temps present. A specialist in Nazism and war studies, he also teaches at Sciences-Po. His previous work, Les Chasseurs Noirs, was an international success.show more

Table of contents

ForewordAcknowledgmentsGlossaryPART ONE: The young men of GermanyChapter 1 A world of enemies (I)The outbreak of warThe silence of the AkademikerThe time of troubles : an experience of war?Chapter 2 Constructing networksPlaces to studyPlaces of associationNetworks of solidarityChapter 3 Activist intellectualsThe construction of academic knowledgeKnowledge and activism (1919-1933) Combative science and SS intellectuals in the Third ReichThe shadow of the Great WarPART TWO: Joining the Nazis: a commitmentChapter 4 Being a NaziThe foundations of the doctrineThe origins of Nazi fervour: planning a sociobiologicalre-establishmentThe appropriation of a system of beliefsChapter 5 Entering the SDWhether to enter the Party or not?Towards the SD: Nazi careersRecruitment: a social mechanism of enlistenmentChapter 6 From struggle to controlFrom the Security Department of the SS (SD) tothe Reich Security Main Office (RSHA)A world of enemies (II)ControlPART THREE : Nazism and violence: the culmination 1939-1945Chapter 7 Thinking the east, between utopia and anxietyThe curse of Germanic isolationThe Nazi project for a sociobiological re-establishmentRedevelop and settle: forms of Nazi fervourChapter 8 Arguing for war: Nazi rhetoricFrom the reparative war to the Great Racial War From the discourse of security to the discourse of genocideExpressing violence: defensive rhetorics, utopian rhetoricsChapter 9 Violence in actionThe experience of violenceDemonstrative violence, violence of eradicationA transgressive violenceViolence as rite of initiationChapter 10 SS intellectuals confronting defeatDefeat rendered unrealFinis Germaniae. The return of the old anxietyThe denouementChapter 11 SS intellectuals on trialStrategies of negationStrategies of evasionStrategies of justification: the Ohlendorf caseConclusion: Memory of war, activism and genocideNotesSources and bibliographyA piece of research and its contextA specific conceptual frameworkList of archival collections consultedPrinted sourcesBibliographyshow more

Review Text

"a thoughtful, well researched, and well written addition to the field of perpetrator studies-a work that illustrates convincingly the role of Germany's "best and brightest" in the prosecution of genocide." Holocaust and Genocide Studies "A chilling collective portrait of a generation blinded by the fervor of their ideology and oblivious to the suffering of others." Wall Street Journal "Packed with useful information on this important Nazi cadre." Standpoint "Presents gripping accounts of particular spectacles of violence and their role in imposing order." Los Angeles Review of Books "With this quest for understanding in mind, Ingrao has undertaken what is clearly a mammoth historical task, and ultimately written an astonishingly profound and in-depth book on a subject that ought never be forgotten." David Marx Book Reviews "This is an important and original study of ideology and experience rather than yet another catalogue of crime, and it therefore offers a different and powerful explanation for how educated men became perpetrators of mass murder." Richard Evans, University of Cambridge "How did highly educated German intellectuals of a certain generation make themselves into believing Nazis, career-minded ideologues, and practitioners of terror? In compelling detail and in a manner consistent with the best accomplishments of recent scholarship, Christian Ingrao guides us astutely and assuredly through this shockingly normalized interior world." Geoffrey Eley, University of Michiganshow more

Rating details

29 ratings
3.68 out of 5 stars
5 31% (9)
4 24% (7)
3 31% (9)
2 10% (3)
1 3% (1)

Our customer reviews

The book was originally in French (based on a doctoral dissertation, it seems) and I read the Italian translation because it came out before the English one. This is a great book, both for the lay reader, and for historians interested in important methodological issues. It sheds light on the WWI trauma of these intellectuals and the academic system in pre-WWII Germany. A must-read.show more
by Giorgio Strafella
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