Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

by Keith Lowe
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Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe

Winner of the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize

"A superb and immensely important book."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

The Second World War might have officially ended in May 1945, but in reality it rumbled on for another ten years...

The end of World War II in Europe is remembered as a time when cheering crowds filled the streets, but the reality was quite different. Across Europe, landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed, and more than thirty million people had been killed in the war. The institutions that we now take for granted—such as police, media, transport, and local and national government—were either entirely absent or compromised. Crime rates soared, economies collapsed, and whole populations hovered on the brink of starvation.. In Savage Continent, Keith Lowe describes a continent where individual Germans and collaborators were rounded up and summarily executed, where concentration camps were reopened, and violent anti-Semitism was reborn. In some of the monstrous acts of ethnic cleansing the world has ever seen, tens of millions were expelled from their ancestral homelands. Savage Continent is the story of post–war Europe, from the close of the war right to the establishment of an uneasy stability at the end of the 1940s. Based principally on primary sources from a dozen countries, Savage Continent is the chronicle of a world gone mad, the standard history of post–World War II Europe for years to come.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780670917464
Publisher: Viking
Publication date: 04/28/2012
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

About the Author

Keith Lowe is the author of two novels and the critically acclaimed history Inferno: The Fiery Devastation of Hamburg, 1943. He is widely recognized as an authority on the Second World War, and has often spoken on TV and radio, both in Britain and the United States. Most recently he was an historical consultant and one of the main speakers in the PBS documentary The Bombing of Germany which was also broadcast in Germany. His books have been translated into several languages, and he has also lectured in Britain, Canada and Germany. He lives in North London with his wife and two kids.

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Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keith Lowe seems to be very slanted when it comes to Poland ;forgetting that this country was invaded by two superpowers of the time. (I shudder to think what would have been going on in the United States if it was invaded by just one of these superpowers.) It seems to me the author is implying equal guilt on the level of the nazi's to post-war Poland.Perhaps Mr.Lowe is unaware of numerous instances of Polands minorities openly collaborating with the invaders(eg.Ukrainian nazi's during the Warsaw uprising and their role in the slaughter of a quarter of a million poles or jews from the Polish borderlands who welcomed the invading soviets with banners,salt and bread.) He discusses the practically bloodless communist takeover of Romania,however fails to mention how the Polish underground numbering in the hundreds of thousands was relentlessly hunted,subjected to showtrials and executed. Lastly,Moscow is also considered a part of Europe and should have been addressed proportionately.Mr.lowe's section on the Baltic partisans is laughable and shows a serious lack of research on what truely transpired after the war. I recommend Timothy Snyder's,Bloodlands:Europe Between Hitler And Stalin ,as a proper precursor to Keith Lowe.
2012Colorado More than 1 year ago
SUMMARY: Many book discuss World War II and the events leading up to the war, but few books cover the aftermath of the war. Everyone knows about the lives lost and the buildings destroyed, but few have studied the human and emotional cost paid after the war. Think of a society filled with hate with no electricity, no running water, no law and order, no food distribution, no medical facilities, etc. Families trying to find on another and get home while other families being relocated by force. What did Norway do with mothers and their babies fathered by Germans soldiers? Why were young women in France paraded naked through the streets with shaved heads while some men walked free for their collaboration? Which country, invaded by Germany, did the least to prosecute Nazi collaborators after the war? Savage Continent answers these questions. BEST ABOUT THE BOOK: Most English authors focus on British contributions and points of view. Keith Lowe is even handed in his analysis, praise, and criticism of all participants. Why did so many German POW's die in American care after the war? England stood "alone" during the Battle of Britain, but where did 20 percent of their fliers come from? (Answer: not the UK) Lowe does declare Hitler as pure evil with Stalin not too far behind. Western Europe was dominated with a carrot (Marshall Plan) while Eastern Europe was controlled with a stick (Red Army). In the book, Keith Lowe compares a supertanker, which requires 10 miles to stop, to WWII which required years to end. World War II ended for Poland, for example, in 1989 when Soviet Forces were recalled to Russia. WORSE ABOUT THE BOOK: Maps and charts do not show up well on the Nook, which is bad. Savage Continent covers only the European Theater of war. Lowe's book does not go into detail in such areas as military government and occupation, economic recovery, political aspects, and the Cold War. Lowe does cover the human side such as anger, hate, and the largest movement of people in history. After World War I the national boundaries were redrawn to accommodate minorities. After World War II the minorities were moved, while the boundaries stayed the same. Eleven million people were relocated after the war, many against their will. The only fault with the book was too much detail in some areas. The book could have been shorter with the same impact. OVERALL: Anyone interested in WWII should read this book. It explains many of the problems we see today such as the ethnic tensions seen in the former Yugoslavia. It was the war and the events after the war that has brought continued peace and prosperity to Europe in the 21st century. No one wants to go through the 1940's again with 35 million death in Europe alone.
italia_lover More than 1 year ago
We live in Europe and my husband's family is one of the expelled Germans from Poland (Pomerania). We had planned on visiting for genealogy purposes. not anymore!  There's nothing left and we were finally told that German cemeteries were desecrated after the war. another tragic loss... Such an incredible read. We are European history buffs and appreciate the honesty, even if many folks disagree. Don't listen to others' opinions. Read for yourself and learn.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is actually a fabulous book. The only reason I have given it only 4 stars is due to the display on the Nook. The maps do not enlarge! making them almost impossible to see.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
one of the most important books about world war II everyone should read
CathiMD More than 1 year ago
Excellent read, I highly recommend for any interested in Europe after the war. Explains a lot about why things are as they are in certain parts of Europe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr Lowe has done an excellent job of dispelling the myth that V-E Day was the end of war and violence in Europe. As he stated in his closing chapter, much of the War and Post-War years have been "remembered" in quite mythological terms:- "The Bad Guys lost and the Good Guys won, and life immediately went on in much rosier terms." However, I was quite surprised to find that he did not mention the severe suffering imposed on the German population by US policy from May 1945 until July 1947. "Oopular history" would tell us that "Germany surrendered and a magnanimous US then immediately instituted the Marshall Plan to help them recover". Actually, the first two years following Germany's surrender were under America's directive JCS-1067, a modified version of the "Morganthau Plan". The US military government of occupation in Germany was ordered to "…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany [or] designed to maintain or strengthen the German economy" and it was also ordered that starvation, disease and civil unrest were to be kept below such levels where they would pose a danger to the troops of occupation. By 1947. the mortality rates for adults was four times that of 1941, and for children, 10 times that of 1941, primarily due to severe malnutrition, lack of housing and lack of medical care. In short, the US policy may not have been physical violence those two years, but it was indeed economic and humanitarian violence. The daily ration of food in the US Zone was about 1,000 calories/day, while those in the Soviet Zone had 1,500. Finally, in concern that the Western Germans would turn to Stalin, the US Commander, General Clay, petitioned President Truman to put an end to JCS-1067. Additionally, Churchill feared that Germany would become a "concrete weight" on England's economy forever. Thus, the Marshall Plan aid to Germany was not motivated by humanitarian ideals, but pure and simple anti-Stalin fears and European economic necessity. What these two years of JCS-1067 contributed to the savagery Lowe describes could be the subject of another volume. It was, without question, not one of America's finest hours of humanitarian behavior, and in actuality, similar to the Nazi treatment of some of the countries they occupied. Thank you Mr Lowe for dispelling many of the myths.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting look at a specific period of history I had virtually no information about. However, that period is a very dark one indeed. Often, while reading this book, I would find myself shaking my head in disgust at the depravity and viciousness human beings can exhibit. This is not a light read. But, that doesn't make me regret reading it.
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melvinleight More than 1 year ago
I always wanted to know what happened after the last artillery round fell in Europe at the close of World War Two. I grew up in the aftermath of this conflict, and thought I had good understanding of all the players involved. Reading Keith Lowe's account astounded me, in what I thought I knew. Figuratively, the aftermath of WW2 was more viscous and senseless as the war itself and the allies were totally unprepared to deal with it, at least of those that were on the ground and had to deal with the ensuing carnage that continued, that was started by the Nazis and continued by the myriad of ethnic groups that still had axes to grind with each other. To a large extent the hatred that caused this whole conflagration is very prevalent today. Americans tend to toss the word, "Hate," around like a ping pong ball and never really understand the true meaning of the word.. But in the aftermath of World War Two, Hate literally permeated the very soul of the European Continent. Keith Lowe's book is just plain fascinating.
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CENY More than 1 year ago
Fascinating; I knew about German expulsions from Eastern Europe, but never realized how much violence went on basically everywhere on the Continent for years after the war. Unfortunately nobody is innocent (other than perhaps King Michael of Romania, who is the only person in this book who seems to have done nothing wrong)- even the US was pretty harsh in some respects. A must-read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It had an extremely biased pro-British anti-American slant. The subject matter was interesting, but this particular author didn't deliver like I like my books to deliver.
FrElaine More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best works on Europe in the immediate years after the offical close of WWII, the post-war 'wars' that are still working out in events overseas. How did Greece get in such a mess? The former Yugoslavia? The rise in anti-semitism and racial politics of every country in Europe? A must read for anyone who wonders more about 'what happened after the war was over.' And it raises a more philosophical question, "Do wars ever end, even if we sign a treaty to say the armed conflict is over?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like reading about events prior to and including WWII in Europe. I never gave much thought to what followed VE Day - the Allies won, everyone goes home and life returns to normal. This well written book explores events after the liberation of Europe: poverty, lack of infra-structure, no functioning governments, civil wars, revenge, ethnic cleansing. Savage Continent gives a great deal of information and much food for thought.