Hitler's Furies

Hitler's Furies : German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

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This is the finalist for the US national Jewish book award. "Hitler's Furies will be experienced and remembered as a turning point in both women's studies and Holocaust studies". (Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands). History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau, produce the next Aryan generation and be a loyal cheerleader for the Fuhrer. Then they became the Trummerfrauen, or Rubble Women, as they cleared and tidied their ruined country to get it back on its feet. They were Germany's heroines. The few women tried and convicted after the war were simply the evil aberrations - the camp guards, the female Nazi elite - that proved this rule. However, Wendy Lower's research into the very ordinary women who went out to the Nazi Eastern Front reveals an altogether different story. For ambitious young women, the emerging Nazi empire represented a kind of Wild East of career and matrimonial opportunity. Over half a million of them set off for these new lands, where most of the worst crimes of the Reich would occur. Through the interwoven biographies of thirteen women, the reader follows the transformation of young nurses, teachers, secretaries and wives who start out in Weimar and Nazi Germany as ambitious idealists and end up as witnesses, accomplices and perpetrators of the genocide in Ukraine, Poland and Belarus. Hitler's Furies presents overwhelming evidence that the women in these territories actively participated in the mass murder - and some became killers. In the case of women like Erna Petri, who brought her family to her husband's impressive Polish SS estate, we find brutality as chilling as any in history. Hitler's Furies is indelible proof that we have not known what we need to know about the role of women in the Nazi killing fields - or about how it could have been hidden for seventy years. It shows that genocide is women's business as well as men's and that, in ignoring women's culpability, we have ignored the reality of the Holocaust.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 166 x 240 x 32mm | 554g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0701187212
  • 9780701187217
  • 195,666

About Wendy Lower

Wendy Lower is the John K. Roth Chair of History at Claremont McKenna College and former research associate of the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universitat in Munich. 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.show more

Review quote

"Hitler's Furies will be experienced and remembered as a turning point in both women's studies and Holocaust studies" Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands "As pioneering as it is readable" Literary Review "She writes engagingly, wears her considerable erudition lightly...never allowing her analysis to outweigh the fundamental humanity of the stories" New Statesman "As gripping and eye-opening as it is chilling" -- Andrea Walker People "Hitler's Furies turns on its head the idea that women are innately more nurturing, kind and moral than men... While the accepted wisdom on female participation in the Holocaust singles out the sadistic behaviour of a few women guards in the concentration camps, such behaviour is usually contrasted with the myth of German female ignorance of the horrors. A veil has largely been drawn over the actions of the rest. Not any more" -- Eleanor Mills Sunday Times (News Review) "Disquieting... Earlier books about the Holocaust have offered up poster girls of brutality and atrocity... Ms Lower's revisionist insight is to track more mundane lives, and to argue for a vastly wider complicity" -- Dwight Garner New York Times "Through a combination of archive material and interviews, the historian Wendy Lower has unearthed evidence of women who witnessed and even perpetrated atrocities in the Third Reich's eastern-most territories, where most of the murders took place... her stark, often harrowing book is a valuable addition to Holocaust studies" -- Ian Critchley Sunday Times "Until now it has been imagined that the Holocaust was perpetrated mainly by men and that female involvement was marginal. However, Ms Lower's research contradicts this." Jewish Chronicle "Holocaust historian Professor Wendy Lower has unearthed the complicity of tens of thousands of German women - many more than previously imagined in the sort of mass, monstrous, murderous activities that we would like to think the so-called gentler sex were incapable of" -- Tony Rennell Daily Mail Ireland "Wendy Lower's book interweaves the experiences of 13 ordinary women who went to work in the East... for some of these women, violence and murder became part of a rich brew of new-found power... Lower argues, they collectively show the role of women in the Holocaust has been underplayed; obscured by their later stereotypes as heroic 'rubble women' clearing up the mess of Germany's past, victims of Red Army rapists, or flirtatious dolls who entertaned American GIs" -- Ben Shephard Observer (New Review) "The Nazi regime is synonymous with men. The horrors of the Holocaust were, in the main, perpetrated by males. But there were tens of thousands of German women who took part in the Nazis' monstrous and murderous activities on the Eastern Front. The stories are told in Wendy Lower's new book" Jewish Telegraph "builds a picture of a morally lost generation of young women, born into a defeated, post-WW1 Germany, and swept up in the fervour of the Nazi movement" Sunday Telegraphshow more

Review Text

Hitler’s Furies is a long overdue and superb addition to the history of the Holocaust. The role of women perpetrators during the Final Solution has been too much glossed over. Wendy Lower’s book provides an important and stunning corrective. It is a significant addition to our understanding of the role of ordinary Germans in the Reich’s genocide.show more

Rating details

2,722 ratings
3.41 out of 5 stars
5 15% (404)
4 31% (839)
3 38% (1,028)
2 14% (382)
1 3% (69)
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