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Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland (Oxford Studies in Modern European History) Hardcover – July 22, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Studies in Modern European History
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Book Club Edition edition (July 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780199546411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199546411
  • ASIN: 019954641X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,106,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Epstein's biography of Greiser is careful and rigorous." --Holocaust and Genocide Studies


"This is the best work on Nazi Germany that I've read in a long time. Far from being a pedantic yet scholarly work, Model Nazi is eminently readable for the popular market, and thus hard to put down. I can't recommend it highly enough!" --The Military Advisor


"Drawing on German and Polish sources, Epstein is the first Western historian to have written a biography of this major war criminal...Our gratitude to [her] for bringing this sordid life to our attention." -- Jewish Book World


"A valuable new biography." -- The New York REview of Books


About the Author


Catherine Epstein teaches modern European history at Amherst College. She is the author of The Last Revolutionaries: German Communists and Their Century (2003) and A Past Renewed: German-Speaking Refugee Historians in the United States After 1933 (1993), and she also serves as Associate Editor of the journal Central European History.

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Customer Reviews

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Later, the Nazis denounced Freemasonry as a tool of the Jews. (p. 42).
Jan Peczkis
The book, as any on the issue of Nazi evil must, speculates on causes for individual actions.
Keith A. Comess
I thoroughly recommend this book to everybody interested in modern history.
David P

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By S. K. A. Kitson on September 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent study of Arthur Greiser who was the Nazi leader of the area of Poland around Gdansk- an area where he came to be really hated. 15000 people attended his hanging. Greiser spent his life trying to become a model Nazi. The author believes that this was partly because he was trying to make up for what the Nazis viewed as past errors- such as the fact that he had been a Free-Mason and was late to join the party. He became particularly zealous to overcome these 'deficiencies'. He proposed bizarre intiatives like killing people with Tuberculosis but Hitler refused to countenance this. Epstein stresses the prominent role he took in the Final Solution. This excellent and well-researched study is backed up by some interesting private correspondence which makes an already compelling story even more engaging as we see that in his letters home he could seem like a loving family man whilst at the same time acting as a total monster in the area of Poland he controlled. I would have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone interested in the Second World War.

I really hope this book wins a prize- it deserves it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By David P on August 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Model Nazi is Catherine Epstein's adamant refusal of caricatures. Other scholars in the Holocaust faculty are prone to the folly of serialising their subjects as monsters to assuage readers into digesting an easy diagnosis of the human condition. In the case of Greiser the reader gets a microcosmic understanding of National Socialist ideology. Arthur Greiser was the Reichstatthalter (Imperial Lieutenant) of the Warthgau, formerly Posen, who ruled over its populace from 1939-1945. He was arrested that same year, tried and hanged in 1946 for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Much like Kershaw's remarkable treatment of Hitler's youth in "Hitler: Hubris 1889-1936", the basis of Greiser's unscrupulous racial policies were framed upon his adolescent affectations of Eastern European culture after Germany's defeat in WWI. It goes without saying that Greiser's utter contempt for European Jewry fostered immensely during his occupation of Posen, but Epstein probes deeper into the psychology of the "Child of the East" whose unrelenting ethnic crusade was inherently anti-Polish.

Epstein also makes the bold thesis that the genocide that was being carried out in the East was essentially the testing ground and had Nazi Germany succeeded the Final Solution's web would have undoubtedly expanded. With this being said the emphasis is on Greiser's feudalism over Posen. So just what kind of a man was Greiser? Many thought him an unconscionable and boorish brute of a man, others saw him as quite an eccentric character with a disarming sense of humour and demanding presence, and some even thought him a good man. It is odd to see the transition from naval cadet to aviator to ardent Nazi.
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Format: Paperback
This work presents a great deal of information. Though it is biographic-centered, my review of it is event-centered.

Arthur Greiser, in his younger years, was a Mason. (p. 41). Later, the Nazis denounced Freemasonry as a tool of the Jews. (p. 42). Ironically, German Freemasonry (and as confirmed by Polish authors) was long pro-German, as pointed out by the author, "While Free Masonry was supposedly apolitical, in Germany it tended toward conservatism. In the 1920's, most lodges espoused strong VOLKISCH and anti-democratic views." (p. 42).

The anti-Christian aspects of Nazi thinking are often unappreciated. (p. 49, 102, 143, 156, 194, 221). In fact, Greiser's anti-church policy was very systematic, and not only directed at Polish Catholicism, but Christianity in general as a threatening alternative to Nazism, and often framed in terms of "separation of church and state". (pp. 221-230). (Sound familiar?)

It is obvious for what the Nazis are most remembered. Epstein quips, "We live in an era obsessed with the Holocaust and other cases of ethnic cleansing and genocide." (p. 11). Analyzing several Holocaust scholars, she supports a functionalist approach to the Holocaust. The Nazi decision to murder most European Jews did not come until as late as December 1941. (p. 389). She realizes that the methods for implementing the Holocaust came BOTH from top-down and local policies. The latter explains why Jews were shot in some locations and gassed in others, placed in ghettos in some places but not others, and spared for forced labor in some places but not others. (pp. 181-182).

As for Grieser's postwar trial, Epstein repeats the familiar complaint that the Holocaust was subsumed under "crimes against the Polish people", although it did not ignore Holocaust crimes.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Armstrong on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Catherine Epstein addresses a fundamental question of the Holocaust (and all genocidal movements): how were the Nazi apparatchiks created? What inner impulses and external circumstances drove people like Arthur Greiser to become so totally evil--and not even be able to comprehend the fact of their own evil? At least in our fantasies we know the Devil knows he is evil, so we can tolerate thinking about him and his falling out with God. In reality, however, often we find that Nazis like Greiser are incomprehensible and presume that they were merely evil from birth, or were hollow, faceless people fueled by rats' droppings.

Dr. Epstein, professor of history at Amherst College, addresses this incomprehensibility and makes the subject of her biography fully comprehensible in all of his criminal and evil Messianic glory. Her presentation is thoughtful, which is, in itself, a remarkable accomplishment. I was deeply affected by the depth of her research, her knowledge of both German and Polish, and her understanding of the political, social, and economic climate in which the Nazi firestorm grew to its fruition. Dr. Epstein approaches Greiser and his family with painstaking care and precision. She documents carefully the transformation of western Poland into a racial and ethnic murderous prison, the hundreds of thousands of lives irrevocably changed or irretrievably sacrificed on the altar of Nazi racial superiority.

I am not qualified to address how this book fits into the realm of Holocaust or modern history studies. I do know, however, that I found the author to be a great writer.

I believe this book deserves a Pulitzer.
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