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A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust 1st Edition

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199603305
ISBN-10: 0199603308
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A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust + Resistance: Jews and Christians Who Defied the Nazi Terror + Survival In Auschwitz
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Not limited to the perspective of the perpetrators and bystanders, the book illuminates the destiny of the 85,000 Jews who went through the ghettos of the county, thus pioneering an integrative history of the Holocaust. Summing Up: Highly recommended." --CHOICE


About the Author


Mary Fulbrook is Professor of German History at University College London. She has written widely on modern German history, including A Concise History of Germany; A History of Germany 1918-2000: The Divided Nation; German National Identity after the Holocaust; Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Inside the GDR; and The People's State: East German Society from Hitler to Honecker. Her most recent book is Dissonant Lives: Generations and Violence through the German Dictatorships. A fellow of the British Academy, she is former Chair of the German History Society and a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Foundation for the former Concentration Camps at Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199603308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199603305
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #753,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Maine Colonial TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Histories about the perpetrators of the Holocaust tend to focus on the hands-on killers or the architects of genocide in the upper echelons of the Nazi party. But it took an enormous amount of administrative work to make lists of Jews in an area, confiscate their property, deprive them of food, jobs and housing, round them up, push them into ghettos, arrange rail transport to take them to the camps. Who were the pencil-pushers who did this work? What did they think about what they were doing--at the time and after the war?

Mary Fulbrook, a professor of German history at University College, London, found herself in a surprising position to look at these questions when she discovered that the husband of her godmother, her mother's childhood best friend, was the administrator of the major town of Bedzin in Silesia. Though he was a member of the Nazi party and there is more than enough remaining in the archival record to show that he was an efficient cog in the killing machine, Udo Klausa never paid a price for his role in implementing the Holocaust; in fact, he went on to a successful postwar career.

What's more, Klausa insisted that he was not at all responsible for the terrible fate of the Bedzin Jews. This, even though the population of 50,000, almost half of whom were Jews, was reported by Klausa himself to be down to 27,000 by 1943. In other words, all the Jews gone under his watch. Most were rounded up in two Aktions and sent to work camps or to death down the road in Auschwitz. Klausa is representative of the thousands of ordinary Germans without whose desk work the Germans could never have achieved their genocidal aims.

In this detailed account, Fulbrook inexorably marshals the evidence showing what Klausa did.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Christine N. Ethier on October 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Disclaimer: Received an ARC via Netgalley.
The question of how people could just stand by and let something happen is always taken up in history. How much did the average German know about what occurred during the Holocaust? How much did the mayors and the other civilians administers know? How much of what they said after the war was truth and how much an editing of the past either so they can live their life or avoid imprisonment? Mary Fulbrook's godmother was the wife of Udo Klausa who was an administer for the part of the Poland that included Auschwitz. Udo Klausa and his wife, Alexandra, lived in a town near the camp, a town that had a Jewish population, including a Jewish gardener who worked for the Klausas.
Fulbrook's mother, who had left Germany with the rise of the Nazis, was able to reconnect with Alexandra Klausa after the war. The book opens and closes with Fulbrook looking at the relationship with the two women. This frame is important to the topic of the book, for not only does the friendship provide the impetus for Fulbrook to write the book, but it also represents in a small way the theme and idea of the book.
Fulbrook wants to discover what the Klausa would've known about what happened. At the same time, she also examines what the Polish and Jewish residents were being subjected to. At time the juxtaposition makes for strange reading. Alexandra Klausa comments on the bad state of her garden because the gardener is gone. He is gone because he was deported, his family killed. Alexandra Klausa comments on how quickly and cheaply she is able to furnish her house with furniture seized from Jewish families.
Fulbrook reads the Klausa family letters closely. While she is attempting to understand or discover, she doesn't let it blind her.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joseph M. Devin on April 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought this book after one of those discussions I'm sure everyone has: "how could such a thing happen in the real world?" which the title suggests is the topic of this book. In particular, it follows a particular civil servant/ administrator through the rise and fall of Nazi power. However, through much of the book, the individual in question makes only brief appearances, or is referenced through speculation. Given the amount of time which has passed, the inability to interview the featured character, and the need to infer motivation from actions, this is quite understandable. At the end of the book, there is a strong effort to bring those questions to the table for analysis, helping the reader to evaluate the results... a very appropriate conclusion to the work.

Having said all of that, one might conclude I didn't like the book, or felt misled. In fact, I found the book riveting and difficult to put down. Certainly, the material is as painful to read as any possibly could be. Naturally, reflecting on these events raised again the question: how could this happen in the real world, with real people playing such roles... Of course, there is no answer to write into a simple book. But, as you read this one, and picture civil servants concerned about performance evaluations and career steps while real world nightmares evolve around them, it's easy to wonder how much we really see outside of our own little worlds today.

This is a good book, and I am glad that I read it.
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A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust
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