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Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust Paperback – August 12, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Rhodes is not writing about civilians who were killed as part of a military exercise. The SS-Einsatzgruppen were not military fighting formations; rather, they were tasked with the job of eliminating all Jews and other undesirables from lands occupied by the Nazi's. The descriptions include thousands of men, women and children lined up like in a grocery line and walked into pits to lie down one next to another where they were shot. They also include citizens of countries that were occupied who used the opportunity to round up Jewish citizens and kill them through the use of sledge hammers. These are just two examples, but they are representative of the dozens that are described by Rhodes. As one might tell, this is not bedtime reading.
Rhodes does an excellent job in describing the formation of the SS-Einsatzgruppen, as well as the men who formed it. What appears to be the underlying premise of the book is how could the men who carried out these terrible crimes have done so and kept even some semblance of sanity. Rhodes describes the heavy drinking and other diversions used as well as the peer pressure used to extract conformance. In this case conformance meant systematic close up murder of thousands.Read more ›
Rhodes, a fine writer and first rate historian, pulls no punches. Wherever possible, he uses the first hand accounts of both the survivors and the perpetrators to tell his gruesome story. The ghastly pictures that accompany the book only begin to hint and the true horror of the events described. Along the way, Rhodes explores the psychology of the murderers, particularly that of both Hitler and of Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler, the man who allowed his whole personality to be subjugated to the Fuhrer. Rhodes also provides enough of the history and ideology of Nazi Germany to set the proper context.
At just under three hundred pages of text, the book makes its point concisely. Lest the reader think that what happened has been confined to the dustbin of history, Rhodes points out that Einsatzgruppen methods were recently resurrected by the death squads in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Overall, an incredibly powerful and important book that serves as a grim reminder of the darker side of human nature.
When most of us think of the Holocaust, we think of death camps like Auschwitz, the gas chambers and crematoria. What most people forget is that the earliest killings were done by groups of SS-Einsatzgruppen in the field. Literally millions of people were simply murdered through beatings, firing squads and other "basic" methods long before the construction of the first death camps. It was the effect of this "face-to-face" slaughter on the morale and morals of the men who carried it out that would lead to the more industrial, impersonal methods of the death camps in later years.
Rhodes reminds of something very important in this book: yes, the Holocaust was a horrible thing but it was conducted by human beings, not monsters. The Holocaust did not just suddenly appear as a particularly horrible idea. The development of the Holocaust was a process that can be traced and, possibly, understood. And Rhodes makes an excellent stab at trying to understand what happened. In the process, he examines the psychology of people like Heinrich Himmler and many of the other people who attempted to carry out the Final Solution. Plus, he gives a fresh look at an important part of history that gets swamped in our knowledge of the Holocaust. It is well worth the read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a well written rendition of a horrible time in history and it's notorious, evil participants!Published 15 days ago by jmc2
A thorough and consise history with intetesting psychological assessment of those involvedPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very detailed account of the killing squads in the Ukraine during WWII. It is difficult to take in all this information - it is too shocking. Read morePublished 4 months ago by KB
Very interesting stuff , horribly grotesque , but very interesting non the less.Published 5 months ago by Darryl
Masters of Death is perhaps one of the most unsettling books on Nazi activities before and during WW 2. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Neil or Sharon Ullman
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana's well-worn quotation applies to nearly all reading and writing of Holocaust history, and... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Greg
Chilling and superbly neutral survey at the same time. Though I have read about this issue quite a lot before there was still something new to emerge. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Pekka Holopainen
A must if you are to understand their people behavior, then and nowPublished 10 months ago by joseph