Hitler's Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe
Hitler’s Empire constituted the largest, most brutal and most ambitious reshaping of the continent ever attempted in Europe’s history. Liberalism and democracy were swept aside, as Germany aimed to turn itself into the most powerful state on the continent, and to compel everyone else to recognize its mastery. Europe’s future was to lie in a new racial order based on the uprooting, resettlement and extermination of millions of people.
Hitler’s Empire charts the landscape of the Nazi imperial imagination – from those economists who dreamed of turning Europe into a huge market for German business, to Hitler’s own plans for new trans-continental motorways passing over the ethnically cleansed Russian steppe, and earnest in-house SS discussions of political theory, dictatorship and the rule of law. Above all, this chilling account shows too what happened as these ideas met reality. After their early battlefield triumphs, the sheer bankruptcy of the Nazis’ political vision for Europe became all too clear: their allies bailed out, their New Order collapsed in military failure, and they left behind a continent corrupted by collaboration, impoverished by looting and exploitation, and grieving the victims of total war and genocide.
'A specialist on Greece under the Germans, Mazower moves seamlessly between the many sites of occupation and the many aspects of its unsavoury, brief but deadly passage. This is a first-class account.' ―Richard Overy, Literary Review
'Exhaustive and brilliant'―Justin Cartwright, The Spectator
'A tireless, immensely valuable reassessment of the entire Nazi edifice and its breakdown.'―Kirkus Reviews, starred review (full text below)
Astute, systematic study traces the roots of the Nazi obsession with a Greater Germany and its murderous, ultimately inept implementation across Europe.
Mazower (History/Columbia Univ.; Salonica, City of Ghosts, 2005, etc.) deconstructs the Nazi vision step by step. It encompassed on the one hand the reconquest of land the Germans believed belonged to them from medieval times (Lebensraum), wedded to the “science” of race on the other (Germans versus Untermenschen). Love of nation and hatred of the Slavs had emerged strongly amid the revolutionary spirit of 1848; both were exacerbated by the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Once the Nazis started rolling across national boundaries, millions of non-Germans came under German rule. This raised a new and urgent question: How could these alien peoples be incorporated into the Reich “in a way that accorded with the principles of racial jurisprudence”? While Norway, the Netherlands and other northern countries were inhabited by suitably Germanic peoples, the Slav nations were not, and Himmler’s ambitious resettlement plan aimed to send pure-blood German “farmer-soldiers” into model villages while driving the ethnic natives and Jews steadily east, thus ensuring a buffer for “an irruption from Asia.” Making the annexation of these countries pay proved increasingly nettlesome for the Nazis, and Mazower examines in turn their mismanagement of the food supply, resources, foreign workers, POWs, slave labor and collaboration policies. Indeed, the Nazis seemed to have stumbled into the great centers of European Jewry in Poland, Hungary and elsewhere without having given advance thought to the problem of what to do with them. Mazower offers perspective on how the so-called Nazi New Order altered and destroyed 19th-century notions of nationalism, imperialism and international law, especially within European powers.
A tireless, immensely valuable reassessment of the entire Nazi edifice and its breakdown.
'Important.... remarkable'―Adam Tooze, Daily Telegraph
'Compelling.... Mazower exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of [Hitler's empire] with forensic skill and wit. '―Christopher Silvester, Daily Express
'Mind-blowing.... Take this book on holiday. You won't have a dull moment.'―Peregrine Worsthorne, The FirstPost
'a magnificent synthesis, admirably balanced.'―Timothy Snyder, Times Literary Supplement, 13 August 2008
'The best available survey of the Nazi empire's precipitous rise and violent demise' James Sheehan, New York Times, Sept. 19, 2008
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