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by Omer Bartov
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History & Criticism
  • Author:
    Omer Bartov
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    Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (November 26, 1992)
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    256 pages
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    History & Criticism
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Hitler's Army broaches a truth denied in the past

Hitler's Army broaches a truth denied in the past. Bartov's scholarship is convincing and, after reading his work, many commonly held concepts seem naive. -Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky. This fascinating book offers an unexpected and disturbing insight into the German character, with its possible effects on the European Community. -Scottish Book Advertiser. While Bartov's book is important in its own right as a contribution to a contentious debate about the nature of nazi Germany, this brief summary should indicate that it also has implications for the study of armies and warfare beyond the period of the Third Reich.

Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and .

Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (Oxford Paperbacks). Rather convincingly, Bartov asserts that the savagery of war reshaped the Werhmacht in Hitler's image and that the Wermcht embraced the idea of war as a defence of civilization against 'Jewish/Bolshevik barbarism. "-Canadian Jewish News (Toronto). A unique interpretation of a much disputed subject. Smuck, University of Hawaii, Hilo.

Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich, Oxford Paperbacks, 1992. Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity, Oxford University Press, 2002. Germany's War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories, Cornell University Press, 2003. Soldaten, Fanatismus und die Brutalisierung des Krieges. The "Jew" in Cinema: From The Golem to Don't Touch My Holocaust, Indiana University Press, 2005. Erased: Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine, Princeton University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-691-13121-4).

Paperback, 256 pages. Published November 26th 1992 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published July 1991).

Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. Paperback, 256 pages. Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich. 0195079035 (ISBN13: 9780195079036).

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National socialism, World War, 1939-1945. New York : Oxford University Press. inlibrary; printdisabled; ; china. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Internet Archive Books. Uploaded by Lotu Tii on July 17, 2013. SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata).

In Hitler's Army Bartov focuses on the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union-where the vast majority of German troops fought . Rate it . You Rated it .

In Hitler's Army Bartov focuses on the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union-where the vast majority of German troops fought-to show how the savagery of war reshaped the army in Hitler's image. Both brutalized and brutalizing these soldiers needed to see their bitter sacrifices as noble patriotism and to justify their own atrocities by seeing their victims as subhuman.

This study shows that the Wehrmacht was systematically involved in atrocities against the civilian population on the Eastern Front. Including quotes from letters, diaries, and military reports, this book aims to challenge the notion that the German army during World War II was apolitical and to reveal how thoroughly permeated it was by Nazi ideology. Consequently, most of the troops believed the war in the Eastern theater was a struggle to dam the atic flood that threatened Western civilization. This book demonstrates how Germany's soldiers were transformed into brutal instruments of a barbarous policy.

As the Cold War followed on the heels of the Second World War, as the Nuremburg Trials faded in the shadow of the Iron Curtain, both the Germans and the West were quick to accept the idea that Hitler's army had been no SS, no Gestapo, that it was a professional force little touched by Nazi politics. But in this compelling account Omer Bartov reveals a very different history, as he probes the experience of the average soldier to show just how thoroughly Nazi ideology permeated the army.In Hitler's Army, Bartov focuses on the titanic struggle between Germany and the Soviet Union--where the vast majority of German troops fought--to show how the savagery of war reshaped the army in Hitler's image. Both brutalized and brutalizing, these soldiers needed to see their bitter sacrifices as noble patriotism and to justify their own atrocities by seeing their victims as subhuman. In the unprecedented ferocity and catastrophic losses of the Eastrn front, he writes, soldiers embraced the idea that the war was a defense of civilization against Jewish/Bolshevik barbarism, a war of racial survival to be waged at all costs. Bartov describes the incredible scale and destruction of the invasion of Russia in horrific detail. Even in the first months--often depicted as a time of easy victories--undermanned and ill-equipped German units were stretched to the breaking point by vast distances and bitter Soviet resistance. Facing scarce supplies and enormous casualties, the average soldier sank to ta a primitive level of existence, re-experiencing the trench warfare of World War I under the most extreme weather conditions imaginable; the fighting itself was savage, and massacres of prisoners were common. Troops looted food and supplies from civilians with wild abandon; they mercilessly wiped out villages suspected of aiding partisans. Incredible losses led to recruits being thrown together in units that once had been filled with men from the same communities, making Nazi ideology even more important as a binding force. And they were further brutalized by a military justice system that executed almost 15,000 German soldiers during the war. Bartov goes on to explore letters, diaries, military reports, and other sources, showing how widespread Hitler's views became among common fighting men--men who grew up, he reminds us, under the Nazi regime. In the end, they truly became Hitler's army.In six years of warfare, the vast majority of German men passed through the Wehrmacht and almost every family had a relative who fought in the East. Bartov's powerful new account of how deeply Nazi ideology penetrated the army sheds new light on how deeply it penetrated the nation. Hitler's Army makes an important correction not merely to the historical record but to how we see the world today.

I first read this book in 1996 and I felt convinced that Bartov had proved his thesis definitively. I told a friend's father about the book and loaned it to him, we later discussed it. His reaction was close to the opposite of my own, which surprised me. I was a recent college grad, acedemically astute, educated and worldly so I thought. The thoughts I received were from an Ivy league alumn who was a retired LTC of some 25 years of service and they forever gave me reason to scrutinize any history that I read after that day. Looking deeper into Bartov's theory, he really gets it wrong as to why the German Soldier continued to fight against the Soviets in WWII and furthermore, he gets it wrong as to why young men in general when in that position continue to fight. It isn't about politics or racial agenda, lawlessness, etc. At the very core is survival against an enemy that you know to be savage and knowing full well that you will receive no quarter from him, not for you or your comrade or your loved ones should the enemy reach them. That was not propaganda, that was reality. The Soviet atrocities of the Russian Civil war were known quantity, along with the Ukrainian famine, initial atrocities by the Red Army in the opening weeks of Barbarossa and later the realization of Kaytn. These events were indeed exploited for propaganda, but they were very real nonetheless.
Bartov's analysis of what happened in the rear areas of German Corps and Army's in the East appears to prove Wehrmacht complicity in the Holocaust and the killing of civilians, but overall it lacks depth and therefore lacks context. For example, he implicates a Wehrmacht division (Grossdeutschland) as having taken part in rounding up civilians or killing partisans in huge numbers (tens of thousands) while deployed in the East. However, a through analysis of the unit's day to day log, combat reports, personal interviews with veterans, and strength/equipment reports, accounts for all the unit's time and none of which reveals any operations against civilians or in support of Nazi units carrying out those operations. This is not to say the Wehrmacht was not complicit in crimes against humanity in the Soviet Union, they certainly were. What is clear is that Bartov's claims are well written, but not well researched and ultimately wildly inaccurate as supporting facts to his thesis.
In the final analysis, I found that Bartov wrote what appears to be a convincing book until his underlying facts are analyzed in depth, at which point they are found to be inconsistent with his claims. It isn't that he is wrong in theorizing that the Wehrmacht was infiltrated with Nazi ideas, its the degree that the average man in the Wehrmacht was Nazified is where Bartov misses the mark. There is no political ideology or propaganda that will encourage men to fight and endure hardship that can compete with basic survival instincts, the bonds of comrades under arms and the fear of having your home and family destroyed by a brutal enemy. Nazi propaganda wasn't required to convince a German Soldier that the Soviets were brutal, that was a day to day reality from, June of 1941 until the end in 1945.
I've read a lot of WW2 history and at one time lived and worked with a number of German Wehrmacht soldiers with whom I discussed the War. This book systematizes and grounds what several of them reported. The Nazi state was totalitarian, and only people with heroic courage withstood it, and they died. One of these Wehrmacht veterans was a sergeant major who commanded several firing squads that executed Italian partisans, and one time was in charge of a unit that was ordered to line up the men of a village and then cull every tenth man to be executed when they could not finger the partisans who had killed a Wehrmacht officer the night before. You just followed orders, he said, because if you didn't your own death would be even more painful than the one you inflicted.
A great book. Got this for a book report I had to do and it is insightful and full of info I didn't learn in class. All the sources are there and put in order. Only downside I saw was the lack of transition from time to time. He would talk about one thing then go to another but not tell you til about 2 paragraphs later. Book is a good read for anyone who likes history, especially this time period. Author seems to be able to keep bias out but does tell you at the start of the book, some of his bias is still present.
Bartov discusses here the potential causes for the endurance of the German soldier on the Eastern front as well as for his ferocious barbarism during that conflict.

He convincingly dismisses the "primary group" (social nuclei of soldiers from similar geographical origins) as a cause because of the large losses, especially among replacements, and of the large turnover of soldiers at the Eastern front.
His dismissal of harsh discipline as a cause is not quite as convincing, especially since he uses the soldier's fear of punishment and of his commanders as an explanation for his barbarity against Russian POWs and civilians (as some sort of cathartic emotional release). He also recognizes that the soldier was faced with a choice between likely death at the front or certain execution fleeing from the front when caught. And the flying court martials used during the end of the war did use the death penalty to enforce last stand fighting among the troops.
He finally assigns the German soldier's endurance to his indoctrination in Nazi ideology (especially in "Weltanschauung" or, in my own loose translation, "view of the world as it should be"); in religious faith in the Fuehrer as the savior of Germany and of its "Volk" and "Kultur"; to his long-standing racial prejudices (after all, except for older soldiers, he was raised in Nazi Germany since 1933 and had been a member of the Hitler Jugend and the Reichs Arbeits Dienst where he was thoroughly indoctrinated and trained); and to his fear of reprisals by the Russians both on German civilians and on German soldiers for the atrocities he committed in the East. All valid points in my opinion but since there is quite a bit of literature (mentioned and analyzed in Bartov's book) that depicts the German soldier as first a victim of brutality and only second as a perpetrator of brutality (what Bartov calls the reversal of cause and effect) the reader will have to form its own opinion. Still I think that not only indoctrination, but indoctrination combined with harsh discipline, was the cause of the soldier's determination, especially since indoctrination and discipline reinforced each other.

Bartov also discusses what he termed the "demodernization of the front" brought about by the terrific losses in tanks and other heavy weapons and reverting the Russian front to trench warfare similar to 1914/18. Although losses in materiel were indeed heavy and could not be made up by German war production, one (such as Professor Citino who, in his Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (Modern War Studies) , concluded that the Wehrmacht was not that modern to start with) can argue that the German operational tactics were already rooted in 14-18 and prior wars such as 1870/71.

Finally, it is interesting to note that at the end of his book, which he wrote during the German reunification, Bartov expresses concerns about the new German superpower (FRG+GDR) overcoming "prejudices against the "other"", still existing in both republics under the surface in his opinion. Sounds like Bartov's own prejudice against the Germans for the sins of mostly their grand-parents (2 generations removed from the war).