The New York Times
Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europeby Mark Mazower
Draw ing on an unprecedented range and variety of original research, Hitler?s Empire sheds new light on how the Nazis designed, maintained, and lost their European dominion?and offers a chilling vision of what the world would have become had they won the war. Mark Mazower forces us to set aside timeworn opinions of the Third Reich, and instead shows how the party drew inspiration for its imperial expansion from America and Great Britain. Yet the Nazis? lack of political sophistication left them unequal to the task of ruling what their armies had conquered, despite a shocking level of cooperation from the overwhelmed countries. A work as authoritative as it is unique, Hitler?s Empire is a surprising?and controversial? new appraisal of the Third Reich?s rise and ultimate fall.
The New York Times
The Washington Post
Columbia University historian Mazower (Inside Hitler's Greece) is a knowledgeable guide to the dynamics of Nazi domination of Europe. His focus is on the ambitions and foibles of the Nazi leaders, who believed that all of Europe could be made to serve German interests. As Mazower shows so well, almost nothing about the occupation had been planned beforehand. The Nazis improvised as their armies raced through Poland, the Soviet Union and the Low Countries, and Nazi generals and old-line bureaucrats fought among themselves for power and spoils. Mazower's most interesting commentary comes at the beginning, when he compares the Nazi imperium to other European empires, and at the end, when he demonstrates its long-lasting consequences. The breadth of Mazower's study is remarkable, but while not diminishing the toll of the Nazi anti-Semitism, he claims, contrary to many scholars, that core of the Nazi worldview was not anti-Semitism, "but rather... the quest to unify Germans within a single German state." Pulitzer Prize-winner Saul Friedländer's coinage of "redemptive anti-Semitism" is far more effective at evoking the realities of Nazi rule than any of Mazower's formulations. Maps. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
To the 5000-plus titles in English that examine Hitler and the Nazi era must be added yet another tome, and one that is good. Mazower (program director, Ctr. for International History, Columbia Univ.) has produced an exceptional study of the Nazis and their quest for the control of Europe and its surrounding territory. Expanding on his Dark Continent: Europe's Twentieth Century , Mazower masterfully surveys how the Nazis successfully applied current military technology to accomplish the age-old Prussian goal of dominating the other European nations. The Nazis were effective at conquering (at least at the beginning) but were awful at managing their new subjects: despite their initial spate of victories in 1939-40, the Germans were ruthless masters and quickly lost any support their newly conquered peoples may have felt for them as rulers. Mazower sets his narrative within the context of how European thinkers envisioned empire building in the new 20th century, which puts a slightly different spin on the Nazis and World War II. An essential work; recommended for all collections.-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
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Meet the Author
Mark Mazower is the Ira D. Wallach Professor of History at Columbia University. He is the author of Hitler’s Empire and The Balkans: A Short History, winner of the Wolfson Prize for History, among other books. He lives in New York City.
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In this remarkable study of Nazi rule over Europe, Mark Mazower shows the full horror of Nazism and its lack of any redeeming feature. Its anti-human philosophy could end only in utter destruction. Mazower notes that the British-French Munich Agreement with Hitler and Mussolini was 'a disaster for the Czechs and a catastrophe for all those hoping to stem the German drive to war'. The British state then gave the Czech reserves of $100 million to the Nazis after they seized Czechoslovakia in March 1939. The Nazis set up colonial-style regimes giving Hitler unfettered executive power. Their colonial autocracy, brutality and racism denied equality and national sovereignty. The Nazi occupiers consumed a growing part of Europe's shrinking output, through exploitation, dismantling and destruction. Predatory, never self-sufficient, never autarchic, they increasingly depended on imports and on foreign labour. Their rule brought 'plunder and genocide'. The Nazis carried out mass murders throughout Eastern Europe. Hitler told his senior commanders that he wanted the 'physical annihilation' of the Polish population. In their invasion of Poland, the Nazis massacred 50,000 Poles and 7,000 Jews. By contrast, Soviet policy in Poland "did not aim to get rid of any particular national or ethnic group in toto. Its purpose was social revolution, not national purification." Mazower notes, "the cult of force and the racial geopolitics that the Nazis took so seriously turned into a programme of extermination on a scale which had no precedent." On 12 December 1941, Hitler told his Gauleiters, "The world war is here, so the annihilation of Jewry must be the necessary consequence." Mazower writes, "The rising power in the Agriculture and Food Ministry, Herbert Backe, was a long-time advocate of de-industrializing Russia. His goal was to weaken the urban working class which Stalin had built up and turn the country back into the wheat supplier for western Europe that it had been before the Bolsheviks seized power." The Nazis aimed to cut off Moscow and Leningrad from the grain-producing Ukraine and leave them to starve. But the Soviet Union fought back and played the main part in defeating Hitler's armies. Mazower points out that Operation Bagration was "not only the most effective Soviet offensive of the war but perhaps the most overwhelming and devastating single military assault in history." After the war, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland expelled Germans. Mazower observes, "the idea that the Powers could turn expulsions on and off at will takes little account of the real driving force behind them - the immense popular hatred towards the Germans that existed in the regions they had occupied as the war came to an end."
Very carefully researched and eye-opening. If you have any interest in WWII or European history, buy this now. Mark Mazower is surely one of the most respected historians of this era.