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Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields Hardcover – October 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1St Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547863381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547863382
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Lower, a consultant for the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., sheds some much-needed light on an aspect of WWII history that has remained in the shadows for decades. “The consensus in Holocaust and genocide studies,” the author writes, “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.” Based on two decades of research and interviews, the book looks at the role of women in Nazi Germany, in particular women who participated in the Nazi extermination of the Jews. Not merely subservient observers, some women—the author dubs them Hitler’s Furies, a reference to the mythological “goddesses of vengeance”—actively took part in the murders of Jews and in looting and stealing from Jewish homes. Lower writes about horribly violent female concentration-camp guards; of young girls trained in the use of firearms; of brutality that would rival anything perpetrated by their male counterparts. Surprising and deeply unsettling, the book is a welcome addition to the literature on the Holocaust. --David Pitt

Review

Hitlers Furies will be experienced and remembered as a turning point in both women’s studies and Holocaust studies.”—Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands

Hitler's Furies is the first book to follow the biographical trajectories of individual women whose youthful exuberance, loyalty to the Führer, ambition, and racism took them to the deadliest sites in German-occupied Europe.  Drawing on immensely rich source material, Wendy Lower integrates women perpetrators and accomplices into the social history of the Third Reich, and illuminates them indelibly as a part of post-war East and West German memory that has been, until this book, unmined.”—Claudia Koonz, author of Mothers in the Fatherland

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.”—Deborah Lipstadt, author of Eichmann on Trial


“Lower shifts away from the narrow focus on the few thousand female concentration camp guards who have been at the center of previous studies of female culpability in Nazi crimes and identifies the cluster of professions—nurses, social workers, teachers, office workers—that in addition to family connections brought nearly one-half million women to the German East and into close proximity with pervasive Nazi atrocities.  Through the lives of carefully-researched individuals, she captures a spectrum of career trajectories and behavior.  This is a book that artfully combines the study of gender with the illumination of individual experience.”—Christopher R. Browning, author of Ordinary Men


"A virtuosic feat of scholarship." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Lower sheds some much-needed light on an aspect of WWII history that has remained in the shadows for decades . . . Surprising and deeply unsettling, the book is a welcome addition to the literature on the Holocaust.” -- Booklist


"Intriguing and chilling . . . feminism run amok." -- Chicago Tribune

"Disquieting . . . Ms. Lower’s book is partly the study of a youthquake . . . Earlier books about the Holocaust have offered up poster girls of brutality and atrocity . . .[Lower’s] insight is to track more mundane lives, and to argue for a vastly wider complicity." -- New York Times

"Well-researched . . . as gripping and eye-opening as it is chilling." -- People

"The triumph of Lower’s book is its meticulous biographical impulse. Nothing gets muffled in social science, and by tracing the lives of a dozen or so women, Lower brings out the uniqueness of their stories and the gray areas...This measured judgment gives Lower’s documentation its power. Hitler’s Furies is above all a brave book. It is brave in forcing from the archives a story that no one wanted to tell. It is brave as well in its willingness to imagine women lashing out with the same murderous will and rage as men." -- New Republic

"Compelling . . . Lower brings to the forefront an unexplored aspect of the Holocaust." -- Washington Post

"Hitler’s Furies is an unsettling but significant contribution to our understanding of how nationalism, and specifically conceptions of loyalty, are normalized, reinforced, and regulated. By asking important questions about the pervasive culpability of Nazi women, Lower has highlighted a historical blind spot." -- Los Angeles Review of Books

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Customer Reviews

Well written and meticulously researched.
Mark Evans
For me this book was just too dry in the way it was written - very academic and stilted.
Caitlin Martin
This is an excellent book which I found very well written and interesting to read.
Jtorriani

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Lita Perna VINE VOICE on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Notice:
National Book Awards Finalists Announced Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower was chosen as a a finalist in the National Book Awards.
'The National Book Foundation announced on Wednesday the 2013 National Book Award finalists, with five nominees in each of the four categories: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people's literature. They were winnowed down from longlists of 10. The winners will be named at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on Nov. 20.'
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In the introduction to Hitler's Furies, Author Wendy Lower writes that while traveling on bad 1992 Soviet roads doing research for this book she had to stop often. You will have to stop often too, just to digest the horrors in this book.

This fact filled, exhaustively researched and detailed book divides main topics into Witnesses, Accomplices and Killers and begins with eleven names of the Main Characters.

The book ends with the sentence, "The short answer is that most got away with murder."

The author asks if youth, naiveté, a sense of adventure, dedication to Nazi ideals ambition and curiosity explains how many women got swept up in `the moment and the movement.' But, she writes that as each of these women came closer to the reality of their nation's deeds, they had to make a personal choice. This book is about the choice made by at least half a million women who witnessed and contributed to genocide.

Half a million nurses, secretaries, teachers, wives, Nazi Party activists and resettlement advisors went east.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Phelps Gates VINE VOICE on August 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A fascinating case study of a dozen women, detailing the roles they played before, during, and after the Nazi era. The women range over a broad spectrum of guilt: on one extreme are those who tried to thwart Nazi crimes (sometimes at danger to themselves), and on the other extreme are women who directly took part in cold-blooded murder. In between are those with varying degrees of guilt: secretaries who typed up lists of victims, nurses whose duty to their patients took second place to their allegiance to the regime, women who served refreshments on railway platforms to members of the Einsatzgruppen while trains of victims passed through. If the book has a weakness, it's that it concentrates on the vivid portrayal of these individuals, rather than determining what proportion of women fell into various categories of guilt: the extreme ends of the spectrum seem to be the exception rather than the rule, but it's hard to tell at this late date. One particularly interesting aspect of the book is how it contrasts the treatment of Nazis after the war in East and West Germany: the East was much more vigorous in prosecutions, for both ideological and political grounds that the author discusses in detail. Highly recommended for anyone interested in this grim period of human history.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Man of La Book on October 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
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 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."

I always find books about the col­lec­tive psy­chol­ogy of Ger­mans dur­ing World War II fas­ci­nat­ing. Why would any­one allow such geno­cide to hap­pen? What were they think­ing? How could they turn a blind eye to such cru­elty? How could peo­ple, oth­er­wise good and descent, can par­tic­i­pate in mass murder?

In her excel­lent book, Hitler's Furies: Ger­man Women in the Nazi Killing Fields author Wendy Lower brings new evi­dence about the Holo­caust as well as answer­ing some of the ques­tions above as well as shed­ding light on the role of women per­pe­tra­tors. Ms. Lower tells dis­turb­ing tales of pro­fes­sional women (nurses, sec­re­taries, etc.) who knew about, helped and or par­tic­i­pated in killings as well as those who were there as part .

The Nazi pro­pa­ganda machine not only con­di­tioned women to accept and tol­er­ate vio­lence, but also to par­tic­i­pate in it.
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Hauer VINE VOICE on September 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most of us with an interest in World War II have read at least something about the status of women in the Third Reich. Usually it's some variation on the old formula "Kinder, Kirche, Kueche" (Children, Church, Kitchen), to which most women were supposedly bound. Then there are numerous biographies of Eva Braun, a couple about Magda Goebbels, and a few concerning other notable women of the period; then there's Anna Maria Sigmund's interesting "Die Frauen der Nazis," which mostly concerns the wives of the famous German officers of the Hitlerzeit.

Wendy Lower's new book is an entirely different sort of work. This is the story of ordinary women--tens of thousands of them perhaps--who went to work in the occupied east (Poland, Czechoslovakia, etc.) to carry out the horrors of the Holocaust. They were teachers, secretaries, wives, and (most deadly of all) nurses. Lower has carried out much of her research in recently opened archives in Russia. The results are mind-numbing in their revelations. Yet again this book reminds us of the absolute impenetrability of the mentality that could kill women and children, gas Jews and euthanize mentally defectives, eliminate anyone whom they disliked. Lower attempts the usual explanations: a society with an inordinate respect for authority, an ability to dismiss people as mere rats and "other," a blind obedience to duty. But none of these rationalizations really works. It's just baffling.

The women in this book were mostly single girls who went east for opportunity and employment. In this vast space of alien populations and normless anomie, their behavior became something out of a textbook on abnormal psychology.
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