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War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941 (Total War: New Perspectives on World War II) Hardcover – December 28, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0742544819 ISBN-10: 0742544818

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Product Details

  • Series: Total War: New Perspectives on World War II
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. (December 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742544818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742544819
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,259,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Balancing his presentations of the front line and the rear areas, Megargee integrates the strategic, operational, and ideological aspects of Germany's 1941 invasion of Russia into what is both an excellent introduction to, and a superior analysis of, Operation Barbarossa. (Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado College; author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century)

Dr. Geoffrey Megargee has written an extraordinary account of the Wehrmacht's wholehearted cooperation in the drastic radicalization of the Final Solution in the course of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Combining his own research and the revolution in scholars' understanding of the German Army's participation in the Third Reich's crimes, he has provided us with an account that is both gripping and grim. (Williamson Murray, professor emeritus, Ohio State University, and senior fellow at the Institute of Defense Analysis)

Megargee has written an extremely important book, firmly linking the German army to the criminal regime it served. It is essential reading for students of World War II. (Rob Citino, Eastern Michigan University)

It is about time for a careful survey of the initial stage of the German invasion of the Soviet Union that combines the military and ideological aspects of the titanic conflict, deals with them in their relationship with each other, and does so on the basis of current literature that all too often treats them in isolation from each other. Here it is. (Gerhard L. Weinberg, author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II)

In the popular mind, German generals have often escaped responsibility for both the failure of the Blitzkrieg in the east and its criminal nature. Megargee is to be lauded for this succinctly written book. He provides a much-needed and eminently readable correction to both images. This study is an invaluable contribution to the history of Operation Barbarossa and its singular linkage between strategy and mass murder. It can be highly recommended to all those who wish to bring themselves up to date on this most important aspect of the Russo-German war. (Jürgen Förster, independent scholar and adjunct faculty member at the University of Freiburg)

Geoffrey Megargee provides a splendidly succinct double context for understanding the Nazi 'war of annihilation' in the east and the emergence of the Final Solution. First, he explores the relationship between the Nazi regime and the Wehrmacht, with particular attention to shared ideological values and mistaken expectations concerning the waging of war in general and the campaign against the Soviet Union in particular. Second, he demonstrates how the mass murder of Soviet Jewry was embedded in sweeping and pervasive criminal occupation policies that also victimized millions of POWs and non-Jewish civilians. In so doing, he lays waste to what he aptly terms 'the dual myth of German military genius and moral correctness.' (Christopher R. Browning, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; author of Origins of the Final Solution)

Elegantly researched and written . . . this magnificent book serves as a bitter indictment of force without accountability and ranks as a cautionary saga of how this war of aggression ground to a halt. Highly recommended. (CHOICE)

Provides readers with thorough information and a good deal of up-to-date analysis, underlining popularly overlooked connections between German warfare and mass murders that belong to the most notorious in history. (American Historical Review)

An excellent synthesis . . . that manages to be both concise and yet surprisingly substantive. . . . Geoffrey Megargee has written a very fine, readable survey of the first six months of the Nazi-Soviet war, one that effectively demonstrates the relationships, on any number of levels, between the military sphere of strategy and operations and the political imperative, which encompassed ideology, economics, culture, and racial policy. (H-German)

Megargee's book appears particularly useful for the college classroom. His style is clear and concise. (The Journal Of Military History)

Combining evidence from untapped German documents and the wealth of scholarship on the Eastern Front, Geoffrey Megargee, of the Holocaust Memorial Museum, provides a concise and quite comprehensive look at the German campaign against Russia. . . . The book looks at events both at the front and behind it, providing detailed, grim evidence directly from German sources. War of Annihilation is an essential work for anyone with an interest in the Second World War. (The Nymas Review)

About the Author

Geoffrey P. Megargee is the author of Inside Hitler's High Command, which won a 2001 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for Military History and was a Main Selection of the History Book Club. He is an applied research scholar at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

More About the Author

Geoffrey Megargee graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in 1981. Following stints as an army officer and in the business world, he attended San Jose State University, where he received an MA in European History, and Ohio State University, where he earned his PhD in Military History in 1998. He is now a Senior Applied Research Scholar with the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where his primary role is to serve as the General Editor for the Museum's Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933-1945. He has also been a Presidential Counselor for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Customer Reviews

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Simply said, it is excellent and the book is laid out in a very readable way.
S. Heminger
When you read a book like War of Annihilation it becomes clear that the real Second World War was fought between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Peter Geraghty
The book is worth reading for this superb summary of the German-Russian war alone.
Peter Ramming

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 67 people found the following review helpful By S. Heminger on April 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For far too long historians of the Russo German war focused on either the military operations or the abuses of the civilian population in Soviet Russia. The most notably of these were obviously the Jews, although the Slavs and others suffered terribly. Although, in some instances Wehrmacht rear service units and the general staff have been identified as contributing to the escalation of brutality, for the most part the work of murder and starvation has been attributed to the various civil administration authorities and most notably, the SS. It is to this lack of connection between the occupation policies in Soviet Russia and the actual prosecution of the war that Geoffrey P. Megargee addresses in his book. Before I get any further however, let me be clear as to what this book is and is not. As the author informs the reader in the introduction, this book is not a comprehensive history of the Russo German war told from both sides of the story. It is primarily told from the perspective of the German plans and actions. This book is also not a shocking piece of new scholarship. What it is though, is a refreshingly new look at all of the pieces of evidence that have been laid down by other researchers and not previously seen for their interconnected nature. This book is a concise history of both the Nazi war against the USSR and the occupation policies and how the two inevitably led to the defeat of the Germany.

Finally there is the issue of the author's style. Simply said, it is excellent and the book is laid out in a very readable way. Each chapter is divided into sections describing military operation and rear area operations in regards to partisan warfare, POWs and `Jewish actions'.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By T. Kunikov VINE VOICE on January 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is both for the layman and for those who want a better understanding of why the Eastern Front was such a struggle for life and death on the part of civilians and POW's not even speaking of soldiers on the front lines. The author goes through the history of Nazi ideology and the role it played in the creation of the Third Reich as well as the history of the German Army and why in the end it proved an essential tool in the genocidal campaign Germany would launch when it attacked the Soviet Union (although keeping in mind the Polish campaign showed signs of what was to come on a smaller scale). Although military movements are described, they are done so in a general sense simply to show the success the German Armed forces were enjoying and the amount of territory that was falling under their supervision. Then come the explanations for how involved the Army was in the genocide of Jews, Communists, and various other groups throughout the Soviet Union. Mainly the Armed forces helped the SS, Einzatsgruppen, Order Police, and other various units in their mass murders throughout the rear areas that they had just occupied. As well as making it possible for POW's to starve on a massive scale without a second thought to their fates. Without the Army's cooperation millions of Soviet POW's would have lived to see 1942 and perhaps tens of thousands of Jews and Communists would have lived to see the end of the war. The Army's complication in these crimes is now being shown for what it was, although the book is small, around 150 pages of text, the revelations it makes are very important for understanding what went on on the Eastern Front and how it evolved into outright genocide. Well worth the money.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Peter Geraghty on May 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
Somehow we continue to imagine that the Second World War was fought between the Americans and the Brits on one side and the Germans and Japanese on the other. When you read a book like War of Annihilation it becomes clear that the real Second World War was fought between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Allies won the war because the Soviet Union sacrificed so much. The Soviet Union and the United States each had about 150 million people in 1939. By 1945, the Soviet Union had lost about one sixth of its population, about 25 million people; the United States lost less than one half million. The rate at which the Soviets suffered losses was about fifty times the rate of United States losses.
Geoffrey Megargee does an excellent job here of helping us understand the cultural, military and political forces which led to this level of destruction. It's a great book, very well written, and beautifully organized. Also, for someone like myself who is not a military scholar, this book never gets bogged down. It's relatively short, the narrative moves forward at a smart pace, the policies and decisions of the Germans are laid out precisely, and the horrifying consequences to millions of people are made chillingly clear.
What happened to the Soviet Union in 1941 is at the heart of the history of the Twentieth Century.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By default on June 13, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the first book on the Russo-German war I have encountered that specifically synthesizes a serious if broad operational history of "Barbarossa" in 1941 and the perpetration of genocide that was one of its major goals. As the author points out, the history of the "Eastern Front" and the history of the Holocaust are usually treated as separate subjects, with military historians often ignoring the racial and ideological components of the war, and Holocaust historians being weak on sound analysis of the fighting. Megargee, who, by his own admission, is not introducing any new theses or scholarship, concisely integrates these two topics.

Readers familiar with the subjects under discussion will probably find nothing earth-shattering here, although as a general refresher to inspire further research it's well-worth the modest investment of time, but those who are well-versed in the strictly operational side of the Russo-German conflict but not the Holocaust and Nazi colonialism, or vice-versa, might find this an excellent starting point to a broader understanding of the war, and of how and why it was fought.

My only reservation would be that this new approach to such an important subject perhaps demands a more massive and densely-documented book, or books, but as far as it goes, it's a valuable contribution.
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