Hitler Strikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity (Modern War Studies) First Edition
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"An invaluable introduction to a highly significant phase in National Socialist Germany's prosecution of its ideological policies during the Second World War. Specialists and novices alike will profit greatly from Rossino's work."--Journal of Modern History
"A signal contribution to Western knowledge about [the] German genocidal campaign in Poland."--Polish Review
"Haunting in its graphic descriptions and photographs of atrocities, [this] book deserves a wide audience."--International History Review
"Deeply researched and carefully crafted. . . . The amazing photographs that accompany his narrative recapture the sheer horror of the war's very first days."--Slavic Review
"Adds profoundly to the debate over the Wehrmacht's complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity."--History: Reviews of New Books
"A powerful book and an apt documentation of an ethnic war of extreme brutality. . . . Essential reading."--Library Journal
"A significant contribution to our understanding of World War II."--American Historical Review
"An excellent and powerfully written book that every student of the war, the Holocaust, and Nazi Germany will have to read."--Omer Bartov, author of Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity
"Up to now, Operation Tannenberg, the Nazi assault on Poland, has been overshadowed by the enormous literature on Operation Barbarossa. Rossino's book more than corrects that imbalance with a gripping account that conveys a real feel for those grim times and places."--Michael Burleigh, author of The Third Reich: A New History
"Rossino's fine study provides the 'missing link' between the traditional German expansionism of World War I and the 'war of annihilation' against the Soviet Union in 1941."--Christopher Browning, author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
"An important work for anyone who wants to understand the war and the Wehrmacht's evolving relationship with National Socialism."--Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler's High Command
From the Back Cover
Rossino's fine study provides the \221missing link' between the traditional German expansionism of World War I and the \221war of annihilation' against the Soviet Union in 1941.--Christopher Browning, author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
An important work for anyone who wants to understand the war and the Wehrmacht's evolving relationship with National Socialism.--Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler's High Command
- Item Weight : 1.55 pounds
- Hardcover : 360 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0700612343
- ISBN-13 : 978-0700612345
- Product Dimensions : 6.75 x 1.25 x 9 inches
- Publisher : University Press of Kansas; First Edition (May 1, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,603,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The books central thesis could be summarised thus: historical interpretations of the Polish campaign have focused on it as the opening phase of a world war, where the harsh realities of battle on the Eastern Front and ideology of terror imbibed within Naziism did not give full vent. In fact as Rossino recounts, all the elements of Nazi Terror found expression from the first day of the war in Nazi occupied Poland.
- SS Order Police were fully integrated behind the line and were detailed to pick up political and Jewish leaders and members of the polish "intelligensia"
- Nazi ideology served as a well-spring to preciptate attrocities and aggravate encounters that turned into ferocious expressions of violence towards men, women and children --- without ideology some of these soldiers would have been controlled by their officers, or restrained by other men in their unit.
- the tendency to view Poles and Jews as inferior to Germans, and German Culture, gave full expression by the wanton and unprecipated killing of Polish civilians for no reason other than personal pleasure.
- in addition to SS and other terror elements, the Wehrmacht was equally responsible for the killing of civilians and POWs for no reason other than to terrorise the population or to "cleanse" it. And when reasons were lacking Poles were killed merely because they were viewed as members of a lesser race. Common sympathy were negated by ideology.
All of the above happened from Sept 01st. Although the mass factory killings are absent, it is clear that that is only a matter of time. The fact remains that Poland was the first test case of a terrific expression of volience of the average German Soldier towards civilians and POWs.
Besides the general attrocities commited in this book particular to Poland, I think that Rossino hits upon a grander issue. That is the issue of the corrosive influence of ideology on the mind of soldiers. In some cases commanders tried to stop the killings or discipline German troops or the SS. In most cases it was not because of a common human sympathy for the plight of Poles or Jews, it was merely for maintaining order in the rear and discipline within the army ranks. These few people found it immpossible to go through regular military authorities to discipline German soldiers guilty of attrocities. The system, conditioned by ideology thwarted them. In addition the German soldier also knew that he could kill with impugnity, and without compassion, as long as he was killing those of "lesser races."
This should serve as a chilling reminder or the importance of order in the ranks or any army during military operations, and the importance of dealing with any element that would think of the enemy as less than human. The German road to aggression in Poland is not a straight one to Auschwitz .... it is however, the start of the journey.
The Wehrmacht did not have American technology as it struck Poland, but this was more than compensated by the swiftness of the attack and the weakness of its foe. The true stalemate was reached not in Poland, but further east in Soviet territory. Warsaw served as the German Saigon as it attempted to pacify outlying regions. Yet as Rossino shows this relative quietude was deceptive and took rivers of blood to maintain.
Excellent photographs of German troops in action are included. One notable feature is the relative lack of gloating or sadism in the faces of German soldiers. One reads somberness, wistfulness, dismay, a grim determination to do one's "job" or even - as in the case of propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, caught breaking down at the execution of disobedient Jews - a realization of chickens coming home to roost. Facing the reality of inhumanity is so much different than cheap talk or jokes. But rather than a prong to conscience, blood on one's hands can in fact lead to a deadening of it and a mental justification for atrocity, as we recall also from SE Asia. And as with Americans back home, German civilians went about their daily lives mostly oblivious to what the boys at the front were doing; and even if aware, content that the Polish "gooks" only deserved this anyway for daring to fire upon "our troops defending our country."
There is no mention of a body count scoring system; thus German troops might even come off as relatively humane in their rollover of Poland - until one recalls Operation Tannenberg, the policy of deliberately targeting the intellectual and political elite of Poland in planned extermination, given even first priority over "settling with" the Jews. When Rossino talks of a "breakdown" in discipline, however, I feel he's on shaky ground. Brutality and atrocity do not just spring from prior attitudes and education alone: they result also from specific command indoctrination before troops are ever committed to action. Encouraging them to retaliate against threats, real or perceived, with maximum response requires the trained discipline to overcome humane impulses to the contrary.
All in all an excellent study of yet another brutal time and place. Americans can take very cold comfort that their forces do not stand out as exceptionally evil in the last century's litany of crimes against humanity.