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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars from slit trenchs to ration lines, from political intrigue to senseless murder, March 22, 2006
This review is from: The Netherlands at war: 1940-1945, (Hardcover)
Walter B. Maass' "The Netherlands at War: 1940-1945" is one of the few books in the English language dedicated to a discussion of the Second World War as it impacted Holland. As a Dutchman who lived as a "diver" (Dutch in hiding) for most of the war years in Holland, Maass provides a unique perspective. Thankfully from a wider historical standpoint Maass spends little time dwelling on his personal experiences, rather he focuses on the bigger issues of The Netherlands, its invasion in 1940, occupation for the subsequent five years, and final liberation. Maass covers military, political and social events. Small unit combat in Holland is dealt with only minimally in Maass' book. Instead, Maass spends considerable time covering army and command level combat issues.

Much of the text is dedicated to in depth discussions of the political factions that influenced the occupation and resistance movement in Holland. Included are discussions of both the Dutch Nazi movement and closest German collaborators (e.g., Anton Mussart and Arthur Seyss-Inquart), as well as the various secular and non-secular (e.g., Communist groups) resistance groups and their interactions with the Dutch government in London and Allied intelligence agencies.

Lastly, considerable text is given to discussions on the impact of the war on the social structure of The Netherlands, especially as it relates to the Jewish population, ideological `enemies' of the Nazi state, and innocent Dutch citizen caught in the crosshairs of the vicious oppressor bent on retribution for one or another perceived incidents against the German occupiers. This and the political portion of Maass' book are especially valuable to the reader and provide ample historical information of interest. Maass details many events and issues not generally dealt with in other sources. For example, he spends considerable time discussion how awful the conditions were for the Dutch citizenry in the last winter of the war with food and coal nearly gone in most of the larger cities. This personal suffering of the common citizen is not often even touched on in most works on the Second World War. The discussion of the temporary cease fire that was established to feed and warm the hungry and cold is equally intriguing and equally little covered in most popular literature.

In the end, if one wishes to get a solid feel for what the Dutch endured during WWII, not so much from a battle standpoint, but from a citizenry standpoint, "The Netherlands at War" might be the book to pick up. A solid 4.5 star read, well written and information deep.
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