Bloodlands
Americans call the Second World War “The Good War.” But before it even began, America’s wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens—and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war’s end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single history, in the time and place where they occurred: between Germany and Russia, when Hitler and Stalin both held power. Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands will be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the central tragedy of modern history.From BooklistIf there is an explanation for the political killing perpetrated in eastern Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, historian Snyder roots it in agriculture. Stalin wanted to collectivize farmers; Hitler wanted to eliminate them so Germans could colonize the land. The dictators wielded frightening power to advance such fantasies toward reality, and the despots toted up about 14 million corpses between them, so stupefying a figure that Snyder sets himself three goals here: to break down the number into the various actions of murder that comprise it, from liquidation of the kulaks to the final solution; to restore humanity to the victims via surviving testimony to their fates; and to deny Hitler and Stalin any historical justification for their policies, which at the time had legions of supporters and have some even today. Such scope may render Snyder’s project too imposing to casual readers, but it would engage those exposed to the period’s chronology and major interpretive issues, such as the extent to which the Nazi and Soviet systems may be compared. Solid and judicious scholarship for large WWII collections.

Bloodlands Details

TitleBloodlands
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 12th, 2010
PublisherBasic Books
ISBN-139780465002399
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, World War II, Cultural, Russia

Bloodlands Review

  • Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
    January 1, 1970
    I was raised amongst survivors of the great horror that was the War in Eastern Europe. My mother endured forced labour under the Soviets in 1940 and slave labour under the Nazis after 1941. She saw some of her family being deported by the Soviets to almost certain death in Kazakhstan and discovered the rest in a mass grave, shot by the Nazis. Her best friend survived Auschwitz. My Godfather was a partizan in the forests around Lwow, fighting both Nazis and Soviets. My Godmother lived through the I was raised amongst survivors of the great horror that was the War in Eastern Europe. My mother endured forced labour under the Soviets in 1940 and slave labour under the Nazis after 1941. She saw some of her family being deported by the Soviets to almost certain death in Kazakhstan and discovered the rest in a mass grave, shot by the Nazis. Her best friend survived Auschwitz. My Godfather was a partizan in the forests around Lwow, fighting both Nazis and Soviets. My Godmother lived through the Stalinist regime, survived the battles for Kharkov and slave labour in Germany. I was taught chess by a White Russian whose memories of that time were horrific. Even I visited Auschwitz in 1963 - when I returned to England I was shocked to realise non of the English people I knew knew anything about the place. Until recently who, apart from the Poles, knew the truth about Katyn?So, when I started reading Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands” my first impression was “There is nothing new here”. I’d heard it all in one place or another. But what Snyder does do is take all those evils and puts them together in his Pandora’s Box - only one thing is missing, Hope. Because there was no hope, only fear and death. The depressing bleakness hollows out the soul. One has to pause to take stock, to look away, to absorb the evil and hear the dead cry out for justice, and an understanding that what happened there, on the “Eastern Front”, in the “Bloodlands”, actually exceeded anything the West could understand: “...The American and British soldiers who liberated the dying inmates from camps in Germany believed that they had discovered the horrors of Nazism. The images their photographers and cameramen captured of the corpses and the living skeletons at Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald seemed to convey the worst crimes of Hitler...this was far from the truth. The worst was in the ruins of Warsaw, or the fields of Treblinka, or the marshes of Belarus, or the pits of Babi Yar.” Timothy Snyder is the conscience of us all.Snyder fills his Pandora’s Box and then he reveals its contents to us. He deals with the real terrors of Stalinism; the tragedy of the Great Famine of the Ukraine, the nightmare of the Great Terror, and the cold-blooded elimination of the educated classes and all forms of potential resistance in Poland. He goes on to deal with Nazism; once more, the elimination of educated Poles, the attempts to depopulate Belarus, and the Final Solution. He looks at Post-War Cold War anti-Semitism in a very knowledgeable manner that makes the era clearly understandable. He does a wonderful job of sorting the truth out from the “false history” we have in the West by reminding us (for example) that “by the time the gas chamber and crematoria complexes came on line in spring 1943, more than three-quarters of the Jews who would be killed in the Holocaust were already dead.” The name of Belzec is less well known than that of Auschwitz because it was a death camp - those who survived it were highly lucky and could be counted on the fingers of one hand. “The vast majority of Jews killed in the Holocaust never saw a concentration camp.”Snyder debunks the modern attempts to “balance” out history: the Nazis and the Soviets were not inhuman beasts - they were ordinary men and women like you and me. These men and women had ideals which they tried to live up to. They saw themselves as victims of other groups and their actions were a form of self-defense. They forced others to collude in their plans by giving them a choice between that or death. He reminds us of the real atrocities carried out in the war, for example, “About as many Poles were killed in the bombing of Warsaw in 1939 as Germans were killed in the bombing of Dresden in 1945. For Poles, that bombing was just the beginning of one of the bloodiest occupations of the war... “ and that “German journalists and (some) historians ... have exaggerated the number of Germans killed during wartime and postwar evacuation, flight, or deportation...”Snyder’s “Bloodlands” are, for me, the lands of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth partitioned between 1772 and 1794. The horrors that took place here are just a continuation of the policies of the Germans and Russians to control those lands. Perhaps I fall into that category of historians who try to understand the horrors in nationalistic terms - he debunks the Russian myth of the “Great Patriotic war” and points out that most of the “Russian” dead were “Soviet” and came from Belarus, the Ukraine and Eastern Poland - themselves victims of Stalinism in 1939 (and earlier).I said there was nothing new here - that isn’t completely true. Snyder’s research is so broad as he brings the strands together that there will always be a fact that will surprise you, no matter how much you think you know the history. I never knew that the invading Germans, in 1939, tended not to treat captured Polish soldiers as prisoners-of-war but simply shot many of them as they surrendered. Snyder filled his history with facts and figures throughout. One simple fact stands in for so many in the book: “On any given day in the second half of 1941, the Germans shot more Jews than had been killed by pogroms in the entire history of the Russian Empire.”There’s nothing new in this book. The story and the facts have always been available. In this post-Cold war era the truth about what went on in the East has been slowly revealed to the West: all the “false” history is been revealed as another version of the West’s anti-Communist propaganda, a Big brother version of history in which Polish troops, for example, were not allowed to partake in VE celebrations because the country was Communist (albeit sold out by the allies at Yalta). Snyder brings the true history of this era to the attention of the West. Everyone should read it - but then I would say that, wouldn’t I, I was raised amongst survivors of the great horror that was the War in Eastern Europe.
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  • Brad Wheeler
    January 1, 1970
    Man. Oh, man.This book is without a doubt the most depressing thing I've ever read. If there was ever a time and place that demonstrated man's inhumanity to man, it would be the "Bloodlands," the areas of Eastern Europe squashed flat two or three times by Hitler and Stalin. The author's accounts of casual starvation, brutal repression, and mass murder were horrifying not just because they happened, but because both victims and perpetrators were everyday, normal people.This is why you read the ep Man. Oh, man.This book is without a doubt the most depressing thing I've ever read. If there was ever a time and place that demonstrated man's inhumanity to man, it would be the "Bloodlands," the areas of Eastern Europe squashed flat two or three times by Hitler and Stalin. The author's accounts of casual starvation, brutal repression, and mass murder were horrifying not just because they happened, but because both victims and perpetrators were everyday, normal people.This is why you read the epilogue in any history text: it's where the author makes their point. In this case, the author wanted to make clear exactly what happened to the 14 million people who died as a direct result of Soviet and Nazi policies before and during the Second World War. Specifically, he wanted to make it clear that it was actual people who died, and actual people who did the killing. He dips down into the masses and chooses one or two telling examples from each murder, each siege, each starvation. It's people who died, the author says, and it's people who killed them. It's easy to dismiss the Nazis and the Stalinist as monsters, and in a sense they were. But that's a cop-out. The fact is, given the right time and circumstances, any of us might decide that it was in our best interest to cooperate in a program of mass killing. That's what the thousands of SS and NKVD men did. They're not so different from us. In acknowledging this, and in making plain what happened, Snyder make it ever so slightly less likely that it will ever happen again.There are few history texts--few books of any kind--that have affected me as strongly as this book did. There were times I could barely keep listening, but I'm glad I did. Everyone should read this book. Not just historians or World War II enthusiasts (although the latter definitely should, if they only follow American history). Everyone should read this book, because everyone needs to hear its lesson. I don't mean to sound melodramatic, because I'm being entirely sincere. Read it.Edit: corrected some embarrassingly bad grammar
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  • Tony
    January 1, 1970
    First, there are numbers:13,788 at Polesie23,600 at Kamiamets-Podilskyi3,739 prisoners at Starobilsk358, one night at Palmiry Forest2,500 at Leningrad by October, 19415,500 by November50,500 by December1,000,000 by the end of the Leningrad siege80,000 at Stalag 30760,000 at Stalag 31955,000 at Stalag 32523,000 at Stalag 316500,000 Soviet prisoners in the General Government450, one night at Krzesawice12,000 at Dnipropetrovsk386,798 kulaks33,761 at Babi Yar14 million in all.Not soldiers in battle. First, there are numbers:13,788 at Polesie23,600 at Kamiamets-Podilskyi3,739 prisoners at Starobilsk358, one night at Palmiry Forest2,500 at Leningrad by October, 19415,500 by November50,500 by December1,000,000 by the end of the Leningrad siege80,000 at Stalag 30760,000 at Stalag 31955,000 at Stalag 32523,000 at Stalag 316500,000 Soviet prisoners in the General Government450, one night at Krzesawice12,000 at Dnipropetrovsk386,798 kulaks33,761 at Babi Yar14 million in all.Not soldiers in battle. Just people in the wrong place. Jews, Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians.Think of the 1 at the end of 33,761, Timothy Snyder tells us, insists.Each of the living bore a name.Emmanuel Ringelblum, who created archives in the Warsaw ghetto making its history possible, and died betrayed. Adam Czerniakow, told to present 5,000 Jews at a transfer point and certain mass death, and killed himself instead.Sofia Karpai, a doctor who refused to yield under Stalin's torture.And Dina Pronicheva, always Dina Pronicheva, one person, yet more than a number, who lived to tell of Babi Yar.Along the way:Violence is not confidence, and terror is not mastery.And:Those German soldiers who saw the Treblinka transports knew, if they wanted to know, just what they were fighting for.There are people, some even in the reviews on this site, who argue which people suffered more. In a powerful closing chapter, Snyder asks, "Can the dead really belong to anyone?" And he warns us, "What begins as competitive martyrology can end with martyrological imperialism." We reflexively seem to need to see Hitler and Stalin as different from us, that we could never do what they did, that they are inhuman. Careful, Snyder says. That Jews and non-Aryans were sub-human was Hitler's justification for murder. "To find other people to be inhuman," Snyder writes, "is to take a step toward, not away from, the Nazi position."The scholarship in this book is superb, much taken from untranslated Polish sources. And while the numbers sometimes read as lists, and points are often repetitively and numbingly made, Bloodlands is thought-provoking and personal.The Nazi and Soviet regimes turned people into numbers, some of which we can only estimate, some of which we can reconstruct with fair precision. It is for us as scholars to seek these numbers and to put them into perspective. It is for us as humanists to turn the numbers back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity.
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  • BlackOxford
    January 1, 1970
    History As Intention and ResponseHistory can be told in several ways: as a textbook-like sequence of events and dates; as a moral tale; as a story of the strong or of the weak; from the point of view of the victors or the vanquished; as an account of divine providence or satanic interference. Snyder has a particularly engaging method of narrating history: as intention and response to circumstances. According to his title one could conceive his subject as the history of a specific geographical re History As Intention and ResponseHistory can be told in several ways: as a textbook-like sequence of events and dates; as a moral tale; as a story of the strong or of the weak; from the point of view of the victors or the vanquished; as an account of divine providence or satanic interference. Snyder has a particularly engaging method of narrating history: as intention and response to circumstances. According to his title one could conceive his subject as the history of a specific geographical region, namely Eastern Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. But this is merely the location of the action. The real history in Bloodlands is stated in the subtitle, namely the personal intentions of Hitler and Stalin and how these intentions were formed and interacted. Events in Bloodlands are relevant only as they relate to these intentions. Dates are relevant primarily to distinguish action and response. The story is not one of conflict and victory or loss but of joint persecution by Hitler and Stalin of a victim-population of Poles, Slavs, Jews and other ethnic groups. It is this genre of purposeful historiography in which the centre of attention is the intended victims that makes the book highly readable and intellectually compelling.According to Snyder, the fundamental aims of both National Socialism and Soviet Communism were the same: to control their own food supply. The Germans, by expanding eastward, to acquire the most productive agricultural acreage in Europe. The Russians, by expanding westward into Poland and collectivising Soviet agriculture, primarily to finance industrialisation through exports. It is these intentions, their mutual responses to the other, and the interpretations by their subordinates that determine the trajectory of events from the end of WWI through the conclusion of WWII. The central 'show' according to this view was never in Western Europe or Southeast Asia but in precisely that area for which both powers contended for agricultural land, Snyder's Bloodlands. It is here as well, and only here, that the full horror of both fascist and communist regimes can be appreciated. The details of the military campaign, as well as the 'formal' atrocities of Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet Gulag are important but, in a sense, obscure the wider and ultimate intentions to murder or displace the entire existing population of the region. The millions who died and the millions more who suffered were not 'collateral damage' incidental to war, they were the point of the war on both sides.Stalin's clear purpose in his agricultural policy of the early 1930's, for example, was not just to crush Ukrainian nationalism and to eliminate any residual Polish influence in the Western Soviet Union, but also to replace its indigenous population by Russians. German strategy was commensurate, that is, to liquidate or otherwise enslave the Slavic population of the same region, and encourage the emigration of German farmers. Stalin used starvation as his weapon of choice; Hitler his Einsatzgruppen. Both were strategic necessities not incidental aberrations. Both used substantial resources that appear wasted only if their strategic intent is ignored. Moreover, both leaders seriously risked their own positions to pursue these aims, an indication of their centrality. Ukrainian collectivisation was an obvious economic failure. It was nevertheless pursued by Stalin until de-population was largely achieved. The Einsatzgruppen which carried out the bulk of the Nazi liquidations in occupied countries were opposed by the regular army as a militarily useless collection of thugs and psychopaths. Yet they were given free rein in military areas by Hitler and received logistical priority, even in retreat. These sorts of actions can only be perceived as errors in judgement if their real intent is ignored. Neither man was as concerned so much about the outcome of any particular battle as about his ability to carry out his ultimate purpose. And this purpose remained constant. Every significant political and military act, even the most bizarre, can be traced to the need to eliminate opposition to the requirements of the overall purpose, no matter how politically inept or militarily inefficient.Failure to appreciate these aims was also the root of misunderstanding by contemporaries who should have known better. Among journalists only the Welsh Gareth Jones could see beyond the fascist and communist propaganda to the ultimate aims. Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer Prize-winning bureau chief of the New York Times, simply refused to believe the overwhelming evidence of mass starvation. Even intellectuals like Arthur Koestler temporised about the most horrible events - including widespread cannibalism - by insisting on the ultimate beneficence of socialism. American foreign policy simply ignored the reality of German and Russian intentions for two decades.Continuing failure to appreciate the impact of these tragedies is the 'take-away' from Snyder's analysis. For example, Stalin starved to death approximately 3 million Ukrainians in 1932-33, and killed approximately another 3 million whom he had already deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan. These people were murdered not because they refused to conform to his policies but because they were who they were. Can there be any doubt about the conviction of present-day Ukrainians to resist further assimilation by Russia?The unreliability of the press in reporting the factual detail of events was matched by the ineptitude of the intelligence and ambassadorial services in analysing their own sources of information. In part, at least, this seems due to an inability to accept the degree of depravity that human beings can reach. By any standards Stalin and Hitler were mad. But were then also the millions of previously normal citizens who necessarily carried out and even supplemented their malicious commands also mad? One small unit of NKVD officers shot more than 20,000 people during the Great Terror in the Soviet Union. If these men were not mad, how could they not have become so, and their families, their acquaintances, their country with them?An interview with a communist activist who was charged with enforcing Stalin's orders to take the seed grain from collective farms, thus condemning the peasants to death, could be the most important theme of the entire book. "As before", he says, "I believed because I wanted to believe." This certainly would have been the response of every Soviet commissar, Nazi SS officer, Treblinka or Gulag camp guard and general army officer. This realisation is even more depressing than the seemingly endless atrocities recounted by Snyder. Commitment, loyalty, passion to and for ideals, no matter what they are, or leaders who represent these ideals, no matter who they are, are not virtues but vices. It was these vices - the real evils of commitment, loyalty, and passion - that allowed Stalin and Hitler and their henchmen to carry out their work. These men were inspired by the conquest of the American West and the liquidation of its native population. These men created myths of foreign plots to undermine national sovereignty and used them to justify the closing of borders, the isolation of minority groups, and the necessity for murderous action against unarmed people. These men were consistent in their pronouncements about what they intended to do and why. And still each was able to manipulate the unique politics of his own system to maintain popular support through an appeal to purported 'virtue'. It is this virtue, not nationalism, or ideology per se which was the driving force of the evil committed.Am I alone, therefore, in feeling apprehension watching American political rallies or evangelical religious meetings, or even corporate 'team-building' exercises? Am I alone in suspecting that men like Trump and Putin are capable of the most horrific crimes regardless of the institutional constraints imposed on them? Am I alone in considering that the cause for strength, whoever puts it forth, is a fundamental evil which has no inherent limits? Why are commitment, loyalty and passion valued most by the people who do most harm in the world? Is it I who am mad?An addendum on Purpose and HistoryIn the 1980's I attended a lecture by an economist whose name now escapes me (it could have been Paul Johnson). His topic was the history of agricultural policy in the United States. He pointed out that the two main components of this policy from the 1930's onwards had been 1) Rather substantial subsidies to farmers for not growing certain crops, and 2) Also rather large subsidies to industry and academia for research directed toward the increase in yields for the same crops that farmers were already paid not to grow. Every year when these subsidies were brought before Congress, someone would point of the apparent contradiction. A debate would ensue. And a vote would endorse both sets of subsidy, usually with and increase. The presumption of irrationality in the political process was put forward as the only possible explanation.Until it was pointed out, I believe to the Reagan administration, that this outcome only appeared irrational because no one was looking for the fundamental rational, the real purpose. According to the lecturer, this purpose wasn't obvious because it was never made explicit, but it nevertheless was there and it was politically compelling. The purpose of the apparently contradictory subsidies was quite straightforward: to maximise the value of U.S. farm land. In this light both subsidies made sense.The importance of this insight was not merely intellectual. Having articulated the implicit purpose of historical agricultural policy, it was then possible to ask the question: Is the increased value of farm land a national priority? The answer was 'no'. Consequently, for the first time in several generations, both subsidies were reduced.The implications for historical method are to me profound. The presumption of purpose is crucial in historical analysis. Without it, one is confronted with apparently random often irrational events. With it, one is forced to confront intentions that are only implicit and perhaps only shared by a very few with leadership positions. It is a presumption that is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But so is its negation. The example of U.S. agricultural policy is one proof of its superiority as a general method.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is about the worst place that ever existed in the world: that unfortunate slice of Europe ruled by the two evilest people who ever inhabited our earth: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Imagine a Venn diagram of evil. The left (west) loop is Hitler; the right (east) loop in Stalin. And in the middle, where the two circles overlap, is the bloodlands, extending “from central Poland to western Russia, through Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States.” From 1933 to 1945, 14 Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is about the worst place that ever existed in the world: that unfortunate slice of Europe ruled by the two evilest people who ever inhabited our earth: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Imagine a Venn diagram of evil. The left (west) loop is Hitler; the right (east) loop in Stalin. And in the middle, where the two circles overlap, is the bloodlands, extending “from central Poland to western Russia, through Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States.” From 1933 to 1945, 14 million people died in this ill-fated swatch of ground. Bloodlands is their story. Snyder begins with the famines in Soviet Ukraine, brought about by the collectivization required by Stalin’s five-year plan. This initial chapter is a bit on the frustrating side. Like many who came of age watching Saving Private Ryan, I’m a World War II junkie. There are more books on my shelf emblazoned with swastikas than I care to admit. That doesn’t make me knowledgeable on the subject, however. Indeed, my reading has always tended to be a bit myopic. I’ve read ten books on the D-Day landings at Normandy to every one book on the decade leading up to war. That’s even more true with regards to the U.S.S.R., about which I frankly know next to nothing. Accordingly, I could have used a little more table-setting, a little more explanation of why things were they way they were. Snyder, though, simply jumps right in.Despite this, this first chapter is among the most memorable, and sets the tone for the rest of the book. Most histories take a top-down approach. They start with the big picture, the big events, and the big people. Occasionally they will zoom in for a detailed glimpse, showing us what it was like for the common man, but this is only done for color. Snyder inverts this usual approach. He takes a microscopic, bottom-up approach, that begins and ends with the human dimension as its main focus. I don’t mean to say that Snyder ignores Hitler or Stalin or any of their henchmen. He doesn’t. In fact, he spends as much time with them as any other World War II book. But Snyder does such a good job of integrating eloquent, searing first-hand accounts into his narrative that it leaves a lasting impression. He never forgets that history is not a relic to be studied; it is the story of human beings. This is never more apparent than in Snyder’s dealing with the famines. The death toll of the World War II-era defy comprehension. At the very least, though, through archival footage, photographs, and film, we can start to imagine what the Holocaust was like. Starvation, though, is another matter. In comparison to marching someone to the gas chamber, it seems more like a crime of omission. Snyder forces you to reconsider, to envision what it actually means to starve to death, on a large scale, and on a personal level. The Ukrainian musician Yosyp Panasenko was dispatched by central authorities with his troupe of bandura players to provide culture to the starving peasants. Even as the state took the peasants’ last bit of food, it had the grotesque inclination to elevate the minds and rouse the spirits of the dying. The musicians found village after village completely abandoned. Then they finally came across some people: two girls dead in a bed, two legs of a man protruding from a stove, and an old lady raving and running her fingernails through the dirt…From the Ukrainian famines, Bloodlands moves into more familiar territory: Stalin’s “Great Terror”; the Nazi dispossession of the Jews; the einsatzgruppen aktions in the east, following Operation Barbarossa and Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union; and, of course, the Nazi concentration camps, some of which killed directly, and others of which worked through attrition. There are also sections devoted to Stalin’s treatment of the Jews, as well as resistance movements, especially the two uprisings in Warsaw. Snyder covers this territory with empathy that is rare in history books. He has a plain, unadorned writing style that is appropriate to the subject matter. His keen eye for detail and acknowledgement of the power of certain, simple facts, makes for poignant reading. He should also be commended for his refusal to engage in simplistic comparisons pitting Hitler’s fascism verses Stalin’s communism. Any discussion about who was worse is, at its core, idiotic. They both sucked more than anything else on this planet has ever sucked. Undoubtedly, the subject matter of Bloodlands is grim. And really, you should expect that, since the name of the book is Bloodlands. Yet the book itself is livened by Snyder’s injection of humanity. A contemporary of the late writer and intellectual Tony Judt (with whom Snyder collaborated), Snyder is more than an able historian, devoted to uncovering all the primary sources in all their many languages. He is also a thinker. All good histories tell you what happened. Snyder tries to work on two levels simultaneously, by also attempting an explanation at what it means today.Here, perhaps, is a purpose for history, somewhere between the record of death and its constant reinterpretation. Only a history of mass killing can unite the numbers and the memories. Without history, the memories become private, which today means national; and the numbers become public, which is to say an instrument in the international competition for martyrdom. Memory is mine and I have the right to do with it as I please; numbers are objective and you must accept my counts whether you like them or not. Such reasoning allows a nationalist to hug himself with one arm and strike his neighbor with the other.
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  • Clif Hostetler
    January 1, 1970
    This is history that deserves to be read, if for no other reason, to acknowledge the individual lives of so many innocent people deliberately murdered. We’re not talking war casualties or so-called collateral wartime deaths. We’re talking civilians sentenced to death by deliberate national policy. Sometimes they were targeted because of national, political, or ethnic reasons. Sometimes they were targeted for no particular discernible reason. The author does a good job of balancing the numbingly This is history that deserves to be read, if for no other reason, to acknowledge the individual lives of so many innocent people deliberately murdered. We’re not talking war casualties or so-called collateral wartime deaths. We’re talking civilians sentenced to death by deliberate national policy. Sometimes they were targeted because of national, political, or ethnic reasons. Sometimes they were targeted for no particular discernible reason. The author does a good job of balancing the numbingly huge numbers with the firsthand accounts from letters and diaries of victims, recorded memories of survivors, and written records of the perpetrators. One example I found especially horrific were the words from a letter written by an Austrian soldier to his wife telling of how he is repeatedly shooting, on a daily basis, large numbers of Jews including women and children. He even includes details such as throwing babies into the air and shooting them before they fall into the pit or water. Can you image admitting such behavior in writing to a spouse? Presumably, his wife approved. One wonders if these stories were shared with this couple’s children. (He specifically mentions in his letter that he thinks of his own children.)After reading about millions of Ukrainian peasants starved because of an artificial famine created by Soviet collectivization, my heart was rent by the following simple story: "... Garth Jones met a peasant who had acquired some bread, only to have it confiscated by the police. "They took my bread away from me," he repeated over and over again, knowing that he would disappoint his starving family." Soviet police assumed that whenever they saw a peasant with some food it must have been stolen, so they would take it away. The logic of Stalin's thinking was that the peasants deserved to die because they were being anti-revolutionary by starving instead of being happy in a Communist paradise. Anybody on Stalin's staff who couldn't understand this logic was eliminated (i.e. killed). There were times I felt the stories in this book were too awful to read. But I felt it my duty to keep on, if for no other reason, to honor the memories of those who perished. These are stories that are not widely known in western circles. A detailed tally of the numbers involved could not be studied by western historians until the Soviet Union fell and the records of the Communist era opened. This book brings the Nazi and Soviet regimes together, and Jewish and European history together, and the national histories together. It describes the victims, and the perpetrators. It discusses the ideologies and the plans, and the systems and the societies.The "bloodlands" referenced in the title of the book consists of those territories subject to both German and Soviet police power and associated mass killing polices at some point between 1933 and 1945. It consists generally of the areas within the following counties: Ukraine, Belarussia, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The book contains discussions of the motivations of nations that led to these deaths. Germany was quite clear that they considered the bloodlands to be a frontier for German civilization to expand into. The German settlers moved into the area would deal with native populations in a manner similar to the way American settlers pushed (and killed) the Indians out of the way. (Himler, head of the German SS, actually referenced the American example.) The Soviet actions were somewhat disguised by Marxist rhetoric, but the author shows a clearly nationalistic and racist aspect to the mass killings by the Soviet Union. He shows that the Poles, Ukrainians, and Belarussians were statistically much more likely to be killed than the ethnic Russians and Georgians (Stalin was Georgian). "Whereas Hitler turned the Republic into revolutionary colonial empire, Stalin translated the poetics of revolutionary Marxism into durable work-a-day politics." When the narrative finally reached the end of WWII, I thought the killing had finally stopped. But no, Stalin was still alive and many thousands of people were dislocated. Germans were moved out of Poland and Czechoslovakia, and Polish boundaries were moved toward the east with subsequent moving of the population.The book also discusses the deliberate changing of the numbers of people killed by post-war nations to fit their political agendas. It seems that after the war every nation had a motive to adjust, inflate or ignore the numbers in different ways. The recent Yugoslavian experience is a reminder that mass killings can still happen. Need I mention Cambodia or Uganda? The wars for Yugoslavia in the 1990's began, in part, because Serbs believed that far larger numbers of their fellows had been killed in the Second World War than was the case. (pg 406) The author suggests that people today who identify with the victims and find the behaviors of the killers incomprehensible, could probably learn more by trying to understand the motivations of the killers. The book hints that most readers would behave in the same manner if placed in the same circumstances.I found it particularly interesting to learn why the author used the term "mass killings" instead of "genocide" in this book. When the word "genocide" was written into international law the Soviet Union made sure that it excluded mass killings of "political" groups, and it also does not include destruction of a social group through the forcible removal of a population. In doing so the Soviets made sure that the mass killings under Stalin could not be defined as genocide. I suppose these are some of the technicalities that Turkey uses to insist that the killing of the Armenians after WWI was not genocide. Thus far in this review I have refrained from mentioning the numbers of people killed. Once you start mentioning numbers they take over. This book contains lots of numbers, big numbers that are hard to fathom. If you want numbers you can read the following excerpts that I have taken from the book. I have made the text bold that compares those killed to the total of American battlefield losses in all foreign wars because I'm assuming most people reading this are from the United States.______________ " Fourteen million is the approximate number of people killed by purposeful policies of mass murder implemented by Nazi Germany and the soviet Union in the bloodlands. (pg.409)The count of fourteen million is not a complete reckoning of all the death that German and Soviet power brought to the region. It is an estimate of the number of people killed in deliberate policies of mass murder. (pg.410)Fourteen million, after all, is a very large number. It exceeds by more than ten million the number of people who died in all of the Soviet and German concentration camps (as opposed to the death facilities) taken together over the entire history of both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. If current standard estimates of military losses are correct, it exceeds by more than two million the number of German and Soviet soldiers, taken together, killed on the battlefield in the Second World War (counting starved and executed prisoners of war as victims of a policy of mass murder rather than as military casualties). It exceeds by more than thirteen million the number of American and British casualties, taken together, of the Second World War. It also exceeds by more than thirteen million all of the American battlefield losses in all of the foreign wars that the Unites States has ever fought. (pg.411) (The following tabulation of numbers has been abbreviated and edited from how it's shown in book, so it's not an exact quotation:)3,300,000 Soviet citizens (mostly Ukrainians) deliberately starved, 1932-1933. (by USSR)300,000 Soviet citizens (mostly Poles and Ukrainians) shot 1937-1938. (by USSR) (*) 200,000 Polish citizens (mostly Poles) shot by German and Soviet forces in occupied Poland (1939-1941). (by USSR and Ger.)4,200,000 Soviet citizens (largely Russians, Belarussians, and Ukrainians) starved by German occupiers (1941-1944). (by Ger.)5,500,000 Jews (most of Polish or Soviet citizens) gassed or shot by the Germans in 1941-1944. (by Ger.)700,000 civilians (mostly Belarussians and Poles) shot by the Germans in “reprisals” chiefly in Belarus and Warsaw in 1941-1944. (by Ger.) (pg.411)TOTALS: 3,700,000 by USSR, 10,500,000 by Ger.(*) Total of 700,000 victims of the great terror in all of Soviet Union."In general, these numbers are sums of counts made by the Germans or the Soviets themselves, complemented by other sources, rather than statistical estimates of losses based upon censuses. Accordingly, my counts are often lower (even if stupefyingly high) than others in the literature. The major case where I do rely upon estimates is the famine in Soviet Ukraine, where data are simply insufficient for a count, and where I present a total figure on the basis of a number of demographic calculations and contemporary estimates. Again, my reckoning is on the conservative side. (pg.412) "The following link is to another excerpt from the book, "Bloodlands" by Timothy Snyder (pages: 32-35)http://www.delanceyplace.com/view-arc...The following is a link to the Wikipedia article about the Holodomor, the name given for the man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932 and 1933 that killed an estimated 2.5–7.5 million Ukrainians:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HolodomorThe following is a link to the movie, "Bitter Harvest," a movie about the Holodomor:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3182620/
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  • Manray9
    January 1, 1970
    The history told in Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin is not a revelation. Readers familiar with the works of Robert Conquest, Daniel Goldhagen, Anne Applebaum, or Halik Kochanski have read it all before. Snyder presents it with a new perspective, concentrating on the plight of the minority peoples caught between the two ideological empires of the mid-twentieth century – Ukrainians, Belorussians, Balts, Roma, Russians, Germans, Poles, Jews – all pawns of Hitler and St The history told in Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin is not a revelation. Readers familiar with the works of Robert Conquest, Daniel Goldhagen, Anne Applebaum, or Halik Kochanski have read it all before. Snyder presents it with a new perspective, concentrating on the plight of the minority peoples caught between the two ideological empires of the mid-twentieth century – Ukrainians, Belorussians, Balts, Roma, Russians, Germans, Poles, Jews – all pawns of Hitler and Stalin. Both tyrants were committed to ethnic and cultural homogeneity in the lands they ruled, but as Snyder so aptly pointed out, it was Stalin who won Hitler's war, so his vision triumphed.The old adage about man's inhumanity to man was never reinforced better than in Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. While well-written, often captivating, and thoroughly footnoted (extensive references in English, Polish, German and Russian), it is undeniably a depressing book. Stalinism, with its forced collectivization of agriculture, the “liquidation of the kulaks as a class,” and recurring politically-driven suppressions, when married in time and geography with Nazism's bloodlust and pseudo-scientific racism, resulted in a clash of unrivaled barbarity. The beleaguered peoples of Eastern Europe bore the brunt. A volatile mix of nationalism, racism, and political ideology led to the devastation of wide swaths of the European borderlands where mixed religions, ethnicities, and cultures had survived, and even thrived, during the ages of the Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns and Romanovs. The advent of Hitler and Stalin ended that situation, perhaps forever. The numbers are mind-boggling. Many millions were slaughtered and no group escaped untouched. In Warsaw on 5 and 6 August 1944 alone, SS Special Commando Dirlewanger shot 40,000 Polish civilians. While much of western historiography has been focused on the Holocaust, the Jews comprised 5.40 million of the 14 million victims of totalitarianism in the bloodlands. Snyder rounds out the ugly tale of murder. Timothy Snyder deserves great credit for presenting a new look at this sanguinary chapter of European history. So much of today's news on the region has been shaped by the events described and explained in Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. Snyder's book earned a rating of Four Stars in my library. Another plus: The text is accompanied by excellent maps. A brief study of the maps reflecting the changing borders in the region from 1918 through the post-war era is, in itself, enlightening.
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  • Ray
    January 1, 1970
    Bloodlands. The poor beknighted ribbon of land caught between Hitler and Stalin, monstrous merciless dictators, with their absolutist ideologies and willing apparatchiks. Comprising the Baltic states, Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine, fourteen million of whose civilian inhabitants died as a result of deliberate policies of extermination or neglect. It started even before the Second World War, with three million Ukrainians starved so that Stalin could claim victory in his collectivisaton drive. Man Bloodlands. The poor beknighted ribbon of land caught between Hitler and Stalin, monstrous merciless dictators, with their absolutist ideologies and willing apparatchiks. Comprising the Baltic states, Poland, Belorussia and Ukraine, fourteen million of whose civilian inhabitants died as a result of deliberate policies of extermination or neglect. It started even before the Second World War, with three million Ukrainians starved so that Stalin could claim victory in his collectivisaton drive. Many hundreds of thousands more died in the Great Terror, shot in the back of the neck or transported thousands of miles to die in some empty wilderness. Then the war starts and the killing increases in pace. Poland is dismembered again and it's elites are simply murdered - 20,000 officers killed by the NKVD at Katyn for example. Then in 1941 the Germans invade Soviet Russia. Three million Soviet prisoners of war are left to die through starvation and neglect, whilst behind the front line the Nazi death squads start to murder Jews. Later on the obscene murder camps are constructed to industrialise the process of extermination.After the war population transfers lead to further deaths. The borders of Poland and Germany are moved westwards as Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill re-draw the maps, further dislocating historic communities and reanimating ethnic tension (as if this were needed). Facts on the ground - the mighty Red Army - mean that historic promises to Poland from Britain and France are forgotten, and the Baltic countries are reabsorbed into Mother Russia.The numbers murdered are incredible. Fourteen million - mainly Jews, Poles, Belorussians and Ukrainians, with a smattering of Balts, Germans and others. The author leads us through this unimaginable path with a scalpel sharp exposition of the reasons for the killing. Twisted ideology certainly but also a sense that eliminating "the other" allows for the formation through shared hatred of a master race. It is also a convenient excuse for political failure, why admit mistakes when you can blame the scapegoat. He also shows us the impossible choices faced by people whose lands are invaded three times in five years by diametrically opposed ideologues - do you collaborate and live, for now, or resist and face a bullet? Of course for many this is not a choice they face, as they are condemned and murdered for what they are rather than what they have done - they are a kulak , a Jew or an educated Pole, Latvian, Lithuanian or Estonian. An important if disturbing book.
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  • Marc
    January 1, 1970
    Having read hundreds of books on World War II, it's pretty rare to come across a book which covers a topic I'm not very familiar with. However, the subject of the Holocaust is one which I've avoided mostly because it's just too damn depressing, and while this book covers a broader topic it's probably one I would have skipped in the past. I'm glad I didn't skip this one.The author defines the Bloodlands as the lands between pre-war Nazi Germany and the western edge of the Russian Republic, predom Having read hundreds of books on World War II, it's pretty rare to come across a book which covers a topic I'm not very familiar with. However, the subject of the Holocaust is one which I've avoided mostly because it's just too damn depressing, and while this book covers a broader topic it's probably one I would have skipped in the past. I'm glad I didn't skip this one.The author defines the Bloodlands as the lands between pre-war Nazi Germany and the western edge of the Russian Republic, predominantly Poland, Belarus, the Baltic States and Ukraine. I was unaware this book would not focus on the military action(s) and instead focus on the ordinary citizens in these areas as I had not read any reviews prior to starting this book. I have to say, this is one of the best books I've read in quite some time, and the fact it covers a subject I've avoided has opened my mind to wanting to learn more.The author recounts how first Stalin and then Hitler undertook various programs/campaigns against the Polish, Belorussian, Ukrainian and Baltic populaces, as well as against those of the Jewish faith. In a combined campaign of extermination, over 14 million people were killed essentially because of where they lived, what religion they practiced, or if for some reason they were viewed as a threat. Along the way, author Snyder does a really good job of explaining the rationale behind the murderous schemes of Stalin and Hitler and how they fit into the grand plans/ideals of the Nazis and the Soviet Union. Along the way, the reader will encounter multiple personal vignettes about those who there, many of whom did not survive. The story is truly horrifying and the sheer numbers staggering, yet Snyder has woven together an excellent narrative which doesn't get bogged down in either horror or numbers. I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more the events in the Bloodlands from the late 1920's through the early 1950's--it truly is an excellent read.
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  • David M
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this book is a painful experience, and when it's not painful it's even worse because you realize you've become desensitized by statistics, the sheer number of deaths. Starting with the planned famine in Ukraine, and then each subsequent chapter gets - I won't say 'worse'; it's maybe a little vulgar to try and quantify these things. Each subsequent chapter details something horrific enough to defy belief, and the scale of killing keeps increasing (even though what Stalin did to Ukraine wa Reading this book is a painful experience, and when it's not painful it's even worse because you realize you've become desensitized by statistics, the sheer number of deaths. Starting with the planned famine in Ukraine, and then each subsequent chapter gets - I won't say 'worse'; it's maybe a little vulgar to try and quantify these things. Each subsequent chapter details something horrific enough to defy belief, and the scale of killing keeps increasing (even though what Stalin did to Ukraine was already the largest planned famine in history).Snyder shies away from making any very controversial or daring conclusions (a little disappointingly, in his final discussion of the political uses of memory and victimhood, he criticizes Poland, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, among others, but refrains from even mentioning Israel); nonetheless he's clearly a great historian and a remarkable writer. As he says in the last chapter, 'totalitarianism' has become over-theorized; what we need is a better understanding of what actually happened. Snyder's ability to synthesize large, complicated moments in history is matched by a novelistic attention to individual stories. He uses these gifts to provide a clearer picture of unimaginable horror and suffering. Reading this book will not make you a good person. In fact I feel like I myself may be farther from that than ever right now. It won't make you a good person, but it will make you stay up at night thinking about Ukrainian children eating each other. I don't know if this sort of insomnia might be a way of honoring the dead. It's important to be humble about these things. I don't know *What does a famine actually look like?City dwellers were more accustomed to the sight of peasants at the marketplace, spreading their bounty and selling their wares. In 1933, peasants made their way to familiar city markets, but now to beg rather than to sell. Market squares, now empty of both goods and customers, conveyed only the disharmonies of death. Early in the day the only sound was the soft breathing of the dying, huddled under rags that had once been clothes. One spring morning, amidst the piles of dead peasants a the Kharkiv market, an infant suckled the breast of its mother, whose face was a lifeless grey. Passersby had seen this before, not just the disarray of corpses, not just the dead mother and the living infant, but that precise scene, the tiny mouth, the last drops of milk, the cold nipple. The Ukranians had a term for this. They said to themselves, quietly, as they passed: 'These are the buds of the socialist spring.' Ukraine in 1933 was full of orphans, and sometimes people took them in. Yet without food there was little that even the kindest of strangers could do for such children. The boys and girls lay about on sheets and blankets, eating their own excrement, waiting for death. [description of cannibalism]Holodomor.
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  • Mikey B.
    January 1, 1970
    An account of what happened in the lands between Hitler and Stalin from 1933 to 1952 (the year Stalin died). These consist of the countries of present day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the western part of the Russian Federation. The principal thesis of the author is that we should not look at these lands as being affected by just one of the two evil dictators. We cannot look at the history of this land as simple chronology, acting in different time slots. The very boun An account of what happened in the lands between Hitler and Stalin from 1933 to 1952 (the year Stalin died). These consist of the countries of present day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and the western part of the Russian Federation. The principal thesis of the author is that we should not look at these lands as being affected by just one of the two evil dictators. We cannot look at the history of this land as simple chronology, acting in different time slots. The very boundaries these countries occupied was itself very fluid during this time period - most particularly Poland - so this also made the borders adjoining Eastern Poland malleable as well. Poland was one entity from 1933 to September, 1939. It was carved between two vicious empires between 1939 thru June, 1941. It was then merged into Germany until about mid-1944 and then re-absorbed into the Soviet empire. In this time period millions were killed in Poland – millions of others were brought to Poland to be killed.The ruthlessness of Hitler and Stalin is apparent through-out. It is obvious both understood each other’s language –for example, it took very little time for the Nazi-Soviet pact to be signed in August 1939 with its secret protocols. The two major Allied democracies should have paid more heed to the history of Stalin’s Soviet Union when they all became ‘Allies’ and started to ‘negotiate’ with Stalin about Eastern Europe. Stalin never intended to keep his Yalta agreement and have free elections in post-war Poland – Poland was his and dissension and nationalist aspirations were not tolerated in the lands he possessed. We can see this very clearly in the history Mr. Snyder gives of the Soviet Union in the 1930’s.Mr. Snyder illuminates the development of the Stalinist state prior to 1941. The Soviet Union was a closed society allowing little journalistic access – and it was successful in convincing the West of its’ achievements – most of which were accomplished with little regard for human rights. The famines in Ukraine gradually ‘leaked out’ and it took more years to realize that these mass starvations were a deliberate policy.One of the strengths of this book is the human examples the author provides – of the victims and how the perpetrators did their deeds.The people in these lands were persecuted first by Stalin’s henchmen (NKVD), then by the Nazis, and after “liberation” by Stalin again. We, living in civilized Western Europe or North America, have little comprehension of the level of ruthlessness of these altering occupiers. Many people lived under these regimes for the entire formative periods of their lives. Those who survived the famines, the camps and the invasions had to adjust quickly when a new occupier arrived in their territory. Alliances shifted and the new authorities would not allow them time to contemplate how to choose sides.I was less familiar with the Soviet side of repression than the Nazi rule. What is apparent on the Soviet side is the predominant role of the NKVD in the creation and maintenance of a vast repressive state. I have no idea of the size of the NKVD, but it must have been composed of thousands of devoted members and was obviously above the army in the power structure of Soviet society. As the author points out, comparatively speaking, there was much less repressive police action within Germany.This is not a book of mere statistics; it provides personalities and it gives an ethnical geography of the land. Due to borders shifting ethnic cleansing was done after the Second World War was over. Ukrainians had to be with Ukrainians, Poles with Poles… this was how Stalin would segregate and then dominate.The last chapter “Humanity” provides interesting commentary. It is easy for us to “humanize” or empathize with the victims; it is less easy to “humanize” the perpetrators. Mr. Snyder provides us with high level rationalizations of what Hitler, Himmler, Stalin and Beria wanted. But what about the perpetrators doing their ruthless acts on site – the mass shootings, starvations and other sadistic acts? They were actively involved and as cited in two works of Daniel Goldhagen – often, they did this very willingly. Perhaps we can never know what possessed them to do these horrible undertakings.The author at the end, very tellingly states that we always have “to turn the numbers into people”.
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  • Tanya
    January 1, 1970
    It is oft said that history is written by the victors, and this was the case with World War II. Americans and Brits largely wrote the story of the war in the Pacific, Western Europe and North Africa. But the Russians took the lead in establishing collective memory of the war on the Eastern front, consciously shaped history to fit their ideology, and suppressed any evidence that contradicted their narrative. The outcome had to support their concept of the Great Patriotic War wherein all casualtie It is oft said that history is written by the victors, and this was the case with World War II. Americans and Brits largely wrote the story of the war in the Pacific, Western Europe and North Africa. But the Russians took the lead in establishing collective memory of the war on the Eastern front, consciously shaped history to fit their ideology, and suppressed any evidence that contradicted their narrative. The outcome had to support their concept of the Great Patriotic War wherein all casualties were sacrifices to the building of communism. The suffering of all groups other than ethnic Russians were minimized, the truths of Russian perpetrators had to be subsided beneath Nazi atrocities, and the reality that Russia had originally been Germany's ally and fellow invader must be forgotten.Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the opening of Eastern European archives and historical sites, the truths of the war on the Eastern Front have gradually emerged. Timothy Snyder seeks to synthesize the scholarship of the last 20 years in telling the story of what he calls "the Bloodlands," those territories occupied in succession by the Russians, then Germans, then Russians again: Poland, the Baltic States, Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine, and the western fringe of Soviet Russia. Between 1933 and 1945 fourteen million people were killed in this "zone of death," including 5.7 million Jews shot, starved and gassed in the Holocaust; 3.3 million Ukrainian peasants systematically starved by the Soviets; 700,000 "subversives" shot in Stalin's Great Terror of 1937-38; and 3 million Soviet prisoners of war prodded toward death by the Germans. These regions experienced continuous widespread suffering. Belarus lost 20% of its total population during these years of successive invasions. I had no idea!I don't think any study of World War II can be considered complete without a close scrutiny of this area, where the war truly left the deepest and most all-encompassing scars. I certainly never appreciated my ignorance of its history. I really thought I knew a lot about the war in Europe, but I'm realizing that I was missing a huge piece of the picture.Beyond the facts, though, Snyder tries to understand the people who were both victims and perpetrators. His last paragraph states beautifully:"The Nazi and Soviet regimes turned people into numbers, some of which we can only estimate, some of which we can reconstruct with fair precision. It is for us as scholars to seek these numbers and to put them into perspective. It is for us as humanists to turn the numbers back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity."4.5 stars.
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  • Dawne
    January 1, 1970
    This book should be required reading of all world citizens. Timothy Snyder outlines the policies and actions of Hitler and Stalin between 1933 and 1945 and the effect they had on the people living in Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic states). The Nazis and the Soviets, murdered over 14 million people in direct mass murder campaigns and actions. This does not count the millions of soldiers lost or the casualties of civilian life and death in wartime, but only the del This book should be required reading of all world citizens. Timothy Snyder outlines the policies and actions of Hitler and Stalin between 1933 and 1945 and the effect they had on the people living in Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and the Baltic states). The Nazis and the Soviets, murdered over 14 million people in direct mass murder campaigns and actions. This does not count the millions of soldiers lost or the casualties of civilian life and death in wartime, but only the deliberate actions of organized murder.To put this in perspective, I did some rough and horrifying math. Lying these victims of mass murder side by side would result in approximately 4 square miles of corpses. Lying end to end, the dead would stretch 13,257 miles. Synder emphasizes the risk of rounding the number. He puts names and stories with those trailing digits. And, he recounts the beautiful lives and tortured deaths they experienced. Made me mad, made me sad - and made me question how much we know at any point in real time the impact war has on civilians. How can we make our governments and ourselves more accountable to sharing these truths as they unfold - instead of through the diligent work of researchers and historians years in the future?
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  • Sylvia
    January 1, 1970
    I always thought I knew a good deal of what happened during World War II. Both my parents were adults and have told me and my sisters a lot about it. I still care for the little diary my mother kept, collecting all kind of illegal newspapers and forbidden cartoons. Last year I read about this book and I was curious what could be told more. Well I got my share and more than I desired. I have finished it for the first time, but I surely have to read it another time and another, for there is much t I always thought I knew a good deal of what happened during World War II. Both my parents were adults and have told me and my sisters a lot about it. I still care for the little diary my mother kept, collecting all kind of illegal newspapers and forbidden cartoons. Last year I read about this book and I was curious what could be told more. Well I got my share and more than I desired. I have finished it for the first time, but I surely have to read it another time and another, for there is much to learn from it. This book should be read by everybody, either interested in history or not. The author made clear to me that the existing visions, opinions and points of view are only half of the story. The complete story runs so much deeper. The horror and bloodshed that happened between 1920-1945 is part of the European legacy. Everyone on this beautiful sphere we call Earth and that we call our home should know the truth Timothy Snyder is revealing to prevent that this would ever happen again.
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  • Greg Brozeit
    January 1, 1970
    Like all good works of history, Bloodlands poses as many questions as it seeks to explain and answers many more. The recapitulation of the mass killings perpetrated under the Stalin and Hitler regimes has never before been so explicit and thorough. But I would argue that Snyder is too meticulous in drawing lines and categorizations—although I completely understand and respect his methodology—in that they do not completely live up to the theme and subtitle of his concluding chapter: humanity. But Like all good works of history, Bloodlands poses as many questions as it seeks to explain and answers many more. The recapitulation of the mass killings perpetrated under the Stalin and Hitler regimes has never before been so explicit and thorough. But I would argue that Snyder is too meticulous in drawing lines and categorizations—although I completely understand and respect his methodology—in that they do not completely live up to the theme and subtitle of his concluding chapter: humanity. But too his credit, he also admits that his numbers may be low and on the conservative side.For example, I have long been disturbed by the use of the term Holocaust. If one asks anyone with a general knowledge of this era how many people died in the Holocaust, the most common answer is 6 million (Snyder, in keeping with his dogged goal of accuracy claims the number is 5.7 million). This has always bothered me because it omits the millions of human beings who were not Jewish but were victims of the policies of death. But in no way is this an attempt to minimize the fact that Jews were the primary targets of the Holocaust. That is not in question. When one thinks that a Roma, homosexual, communist or Pole, for example, who died together with Jewish victims are not counted by many as victims of the Holocaust, I think it somehow minimizes our collective humanity. Snyder cites the number 14 million. I would, using his own caveats, think that number to be even higher based on the evidence he cites.Other questions that Bloodlands posed for me were how Hitler could equate in his evil ideas to achieve his Generalplan Ost—to clear out the Ukraine and surrounding areas to create a resettlement plan for German agricultural “pioneers” of sorts—with the American history of Manifest Destiny. Although not comparable, one could at least see how one could draw these crude associations. And, as I consider the tragedy unfolding today in the Ukraine, Snyder’s explanations of Stalin’s plans of intentional starvation help explain why some parts of the country have ethnic Russian majorities. This did not happen by chance. It has dark historical roots.Lastly, I finished reading this book and write this as three unconnected events dominate the news: the shooting down of the Malaysian Air flight over the Ukraine, the ground incursion of Gaza by the Israeli military and the hateful responses by xenophobic Americans toward children refugees from Central America. While none of these events in any way compare to the history described in Bloodlands, the common theme of all is whether we will ever realize our humanity to care for and respect those we do not know or necessarily understand.
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  • Nooilforpacifists
    January 1, 1970
    Not for the faint-hearted…or for bedtime reading. A lengthy, methodical study of the 14 million civilians murdered by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia between 1933-1945. Snyder doesn't so much ask "How?", but Who?" and "Why?". His contribution is sorting out sequences and ethnic minorities (Kulaks, Ukraines, Roma, etc.) in the serial purges. Also, over and over, he faces the question: "Who are the Jews?"--nationals of their country (Poland, Lithuania, etc.) or inter-national tribe. And in bringing Not for the faint-hearted…or for bedtime reading. A lengthy, methodical study of the 14 million civilians murdered by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia between 1933-1945. Snyder doesn't so much ask "How?", but Who?" and "Why?". His contribution is sorting out sequences and ethnic minorities (Kulaks, Ukraines, Roma, etc.) in the serial purges. Also, over and over, he faces the question: "Who are the Jews?"--nationals of their country (Poland, Lithuania, etc.) or inter-national tribe. And in bringing back the voices of the dead from diaries written, sometimes, up to the moment of death.I agree with most other reviewers, so won't belabor here. But three things were new to me: First, that so few Jews existed in the Reich before the war--almost all lived in territories conquered after 1939. Second, Hitler's preferred final solution for Jews was deportation East of the Urals, once Germany beat the Soviet Union. Failing that, Jews were hounded into ever smaller areas. And, third, when it became apparent that the Soviets would win on the Eastern front, Jew-killing became Hitler's substitute for the military triumph Russia would deny him."'Please sirs,' [the Jewish children] would say to the Germans, 'Do not hit us. We can get to the [gas] trucks on our own.'"Diary of an 11 year old in Leningrad, in its entirety:"Zhenjiang died on December 28th at 12:30 A.M. 1941Grandma died on January 25th 3:00 P.M. 1942Leka died on March 5th at 5:00 am. 1942Uncle Vasya died on April 13th at 2:00 after midnight 1942Uncle Lesha died on May 10th at 4:00 pm 1942Mother died on May 13th 7:30 am 1942Savichevs diedEveryone diedOnly Tania is left."Tania Savicheva died in 1944.
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  • Chris Mallows
    January 1, 1970
    The Economist:IN THE middle of the 20th century Europe’s two totalitarian empires, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, killed 14m non-combatants, in peacetime and in war. The who, why, when, where and how of these mass murders is the subject of a gripping and comprehensive new book by Timothy Snyder of Yale University.The term coined in the book’s title encapsulates the thesis. The “bloodlands” are the stretch of territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea where Europe’s most murderous regime The Economist:IN THE middle of the 20th century Europe’s two totalitarian empires, Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, killed 14m non-combatants, in peacetime and in war. The who, why, when, where and how of these mass murders is the subject of a gripping and comprehensive new book by Timothy Snyder of Yale University.The term coined in the book’s title encapsulates the thesis. The “bloodlands” are the stretch of territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea where Europe’s most murderous regimes did their most murderous work. The bloodlands were caught between two fiendish projects: Adolf Hitler’s ideas of racial supremacy and eastern expansion, and the Soviet Union’s desire to remake society according to the communist template. That meant shooting, starving and gassing those who didn’t fit in. Just as Stalin blamed the peasants for the failure of collectivisation, Hitler blamed the Jews for his military failures in the east. As Mr Snyder argues, “Hitler and Stalin thus shared a certain politics of tyranny: they brought about catastrophes, blamed the enemy of their choice, and then used the death of millions to make the case that their policies were necessary or desirable. Each of them had a transformative Utopia, a group to be blamed when its realisation proved impossible, and then a policy of mass murder that could be proclaimed as a kind of ersatz victory.”Mr Snyder’s book is revisionist history of the best kind: in spare, closely argued prose, with meticulous use of statistics, he makes the reader rethink some of the best-known episodes in Europe’s modern history. For those who are wedded to the simplistic schoolbook notions that the Hitlerites were the mass murderers and the Soviets the liberators, or that the killing started in 1939 and ended in 1945, Mr Snyder’s theses will be thought-provoking or shocking. Even those who pride themselves on knowing their history will find themselves repeatedly brought up short by his insights, contrasts and comparisons. Some ghastly but well-known episodes recede; others emerge from the shadows.Sometimes the memories are faded because so few were left to remember. Those who suffered horribly but lived to tell the tale naturally get a better hearing than the millions in unmarked graves. Mr Snyder’s book straightens the record in favour of the voiceless and forgotten.He starts with the 3.3m in Soviet Ukraine who died in the famine of 1933 that followed Stalin’s ruthlessly destructive collectivisation. He goes on to mark the 250,000-odd Soviet citizens, chiefly Poles, shot because of their ethnicity in the purges of 1937-38. Sometimes the NKVD simply picked Polish-sounding names from the telephone directory, or arrested en masse all those attending a Polish church service.Some stories remained untold because they were inconvenient. About as many people died in the German bombing of Warsaw in 1939 as in the allied bombing of Dresden in 1945. Post-war Poland was in no state to gain recognition for that. The Nazi-Soviet alliance of August 1939 was “cemented in blood”, Stalin said approvingly. Few wanted to remember that two years later, when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. The Western allies did little to stop the Holocaust. Few wanted reminding that the only government that took direct action to help the Jews was the Polish one: seven of the first eight operations conducted in Warsaw by the underground Polish Home Army were in support of the ghetto uprising. (After the war, the Communist authorities executed as “fascists” Polish soldiers who had helped the Jews.)Stalin regarded all Soviet prisoners-of-war as traitors. Their German captors starved them to death in their millions; nobody dared mourn them. The Holocaust, too, did not fit into Soviet historiography, especially as post-war anti-Semitism intensified (“Every Jew is a nationalist and an agent of American intelligence,” Stalin said in 1952). Memorials to murdered Jews carried not the Star of David but the five-pointed Soviet one, and referred blandly to “Soviet citizens” or “victims of fascism”.Many of the stories in the book are already known as national or ethnic tragedies. Poles focus on the Warsaw uprising; Jews on Auschwitz; Russians on the siege of Leningrad; Ukrainians on the great famine. Mr Snyder’s book weaves the stories together, explaining how the horrors interacted and reinforced each other. Hitler learnt a lot from Stalin, and vice versa.Mr Snyder shifts the usual geographical focus away from the perpetrator countries to the places where they first colluded and then collided. Germany and Russia (and Germans and Russians) mostly fared better, or less horribly, than the places in between (there were more Jews in the Polish city of Lodz alone than in Berlin and Vienna combined). No corner of what are now Belarus and Ukraine was spared. Much of Germany and even more of Russia was unscathed, at least physically, by war.He also corrects exaggerations, misapprehensions and simplifications. The bestial treatment of slave labourers in concentration camps, and the use of gas chambers, are commonly seen as the epitomes of Nazi persecution. But the Germans also shot and starved millions of people, as well as gassed and worked them to death. In just a few days in 1941, the Nazis shot more Jews in the east than they had inmates in all their concentration camps.“Bloodlands” has aroused fierce criticism from those who believe that the Soviet Union, for all its flaws, cannot be compared to the Third Reich, which pioneered ethnic genocide. Doing this, the critics argue, legitimises ultranationalists in eastern Europe who downplay the Holocaust, exaggerate their own suffering—and dodge guilt for their own collaboration with Hitler’s executioners.That argument is powerful but unfair. Many people say stupid things about history. Mr Snyder is not one. He does not challenge the Holocaust’s central place in 20th-century history. Nor does he overlook Soviet suffering at the hands of Hitler or the heroism of the soldiers who destroyed the Third Reich. But he makes a point that needs reinforcement, not least in Russia where public opinion and officialdom both retain a soft spot for Stalin’s wartime leadership. The Soviet Union’s ethnic murders predated Nazi Germany’s. Stalin was not directly responsible for the Holocaust, but his pact with the Nazis paved the way for Hitler’s killing of Jews in the east.Mr Snyder’s scrupulous and nuanced book steers clear of the sterile, sloganising exchanges about whether Stalin was as bad as Hitler, or whether Soviet mass murder in Ukraine or elsewhere is a moral equivalent of the Nazis’ extermination of the Jews. What it does do, admirably, is to explain and record. Both totalitarian empires turned human beings into statistics, and their deaths into a necessary step towards a better future. Mr Snyder’s book explains, with sympathy, fairness and insight, how that happened, and to whom. Just don’t read it before bedtime.
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  • David
    January 1, 1970
    In a recent New Yorker interview Martin Amis quoted W.G. Sebald who said that "no serious person ever thinks about anything else except Hitler and Stalin."Not one person in ten thousand knows the extent and depth of the killing perpetrated by the Soviets and Nazis in the "Bloodlands" (Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, western Russia and the Baltic states) between 1933 and 1953.
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  • Brendan Hodge
    January 1, 1970
    The Holocaust and World War II are probably two of the most freqently covered tropics in twenties century history, yet in Bloodlands Timothy Snyder brings a truly fresh and revealing perspective to what might otherwise seem an often covered topic. This is, quite simply, one of the best history books I have read.Snyder looks at the mass killing campaigns of both Hitler and Stalin in the are between Germany and Russia, from 1930 to 1947. Thus, he starts with the manufactured famine in Ukraine, cov The Holocaust and World War II are probably two of the most freqently covered tropics in twenties century history, yet in Bloodlands Timothy Snyder brings a truly fresh and revealing perspective to what might otherwise seem an often covered topic. This is, quite simply, one of the best history books I have read.Snyder looks at the mass killing campaigns of both Hitler and Stalin in the are between Germany and Russia, from 1930 to 1947. Thus, he starts with the manufactured famine in Ukraine, covers Stalin's Great Terror, and then the atrocities which followed and Germany and Russia simultaneously invaded Poland. It devotes a great deal of time to the Holocaust, and in the process sigificantly changes and deepens the readers understanding of how the Holocaust took place, and how it was shaped by Nazi war aims and setbacks. Significant time is also given to the resistance and reprisal killings, and finally to the ethnic cleansing that followed the war and to nascent anti-Semitic terror which Stalin began in his last yeats and was cut short by his death.A book that deals with the killing of 14 million non-combatants over a decade and a half is clearly not cheerful reading. This is in some ways made more so by Snyders determination not to fall into thinking "a million deaths is a statistic." His goal is to understand the Bloodlands not as 14 million deaths, but at 14 million times one -- fourteen million people whose lives were cut suddenly short by the mass killing policies of two powerful and destructive nations. To this end, he bringing us the stories of many individual people caught up in the tragedy of mid-century central Europe, often in their own words. For instance, we read a short letter written by Junita Vishniatskaia to her father shortly before she was shot in Minsk in July 1942: “I am saying good-bye to you before I die. I am so afraid of this death because they throw small children into the mass graves alive. Farewell forever. I kiss you, I kiss you.” (p236)This book is particularly awakening from a Western perspective, in which one can easily imagine that the Holocaust consisted primarily of Auschwitz. To quote a review by Hiroaki Kuromiya of Indiana Universiry:Throughout the book, Snyder corrects conventional wisdom. Concerning the Holocaust, he reminds us that the “German prisoner-of-war camps in the East were far deadlier than the German concentration camps” (183), that the “vast majority of Jews killed in the Holocaust never saw a concentration camp” (383), and that “[m]ore Poles were killed during the Warsaw Uprising alone than Japanese died in the atom bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (406). There is a reason why “people [in the West] remember Belsen [a concentration camp] and forget Bełżec [a death factory]” (381): at the end of World War Two Allied forces liberated Belsen and other concentration camps, while they “reached none of the bloodlands and saw none of the major killing sites”It's an unquestionably dark book, at times heartbreaking, but if you are going to read anything about the mass killings of the 20th Century, you should absolutely read this one.
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    A book that suggests that the Holocaust and mass killings of the World War II-era were worse, that's right, worse, than we were taught to believe. Snyder shows that "the image of the German concentration camps as the worst element of National Socialism is an illusion," and The American and British soldiers who liberated the dying inmates from camps in Germany believed that they had discovered the horrors of Nazism. The images their photographers and cameramen captured of the corpses and the livi A book that suggests that the Holocaust and mass killings of the World War II-era were worse, that's right, worse, than we were taught to believe. Snyder shows that "the image of the German concentration camps as the worst element of National Socialism is an illusion," and The American and British soldiers who liberated the dying inmates from camps in Germany believed that they had discovered the horrors of Nazism. The images their photographers and cameramen captured of the corpses and the living skeletons at Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald seemed to convey the worst crimes of Hitler. As the Jews and Poles of Warsaw knew, and as Vasily Grossman and the Red Army soldiers knew, this was far from the truth. The worst was in the ruins of Warsaw, or the fields of Treblinka, or the marshes of Belarus, or the pits of Babi Yar.Reading this book was like watching images from a panoramic camera hovering over eastern Europe and Stalin's Russian Federation - with brief panning out to Japan and back - between 1933 and 1945. The camera doesn't focus on soldiers or military maneuvers or the other fronts in the war, or the U.S. and Britain. The camera documents planned deaths - what really happened in the bloodlands of Germany, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia, before all the subsequent historical and philosophical explanations of victims and perpetrators and nationalistic justifications clouded the lens. The litany of murders, misery, and near-incomprehensible horror is constant and appalling, but never numbing. Though every 25 pages or so what appears on the page is so wrenching that one must close one's eyes and shudder (and wonder why this part of the story was largely unknown). Depictions of mass killing by starvation were particularly horrifying to this reader.*I know Snyder's estimates have drawn some criticism, but I thought he clearly justified his approach.To find other people [i.e., Nazi and Soviet murderers] incomprehensible is to abandon the search for understanding, and thus to abandon history. To dismiss the Nazis or the Soviets as beyond human concern or historical understanding is to fall into their moral trap. The safer route is to realized that their motive for mass killing, however revolting to us, made sense to them.That is a challenging appeal to forgo identifying only with victims, as we have been taught to do. And his larger point, emphasized throughout but clearly explained in his brilliantly-reasoned conclusion, is about the necessity of historical research and not giving up the attempt to understand the past.*I was to read a food critic's memoir this week for a book club, but it has proved impossible to read the books simultaneously.
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  • Brad Eastman
    January 1, 1970
    Although very well written, I found this book very difficult to read. The book is an important history of a region about which Americans seem to know little, However, be prepared to feel very pessimistic about humanity as you read this work. Mr. Snyder chronicles the fate of those areas subject to both German and Soviet control in the 30's and 40's. We know of the brutality of the Germans and we have heard of the brutality of Stalin, but Mr. Snyder chronicles the brutality on both a historical a Although very well written, I found this book very difficult to read. The book is an important history of a region about which Americans seem to know little, However, be prepared to feel very pessimistic about humanity as you read this work. Mr. Snyder chronicles the fate of those areas subject to both German and Soviet control in the 30's and 40's. We know of the brutality of the Germans and we have heard of the brutality of Stalin, but Mr. Snyder chronicles the brutality on both a historical and epic scale in detail and very graphically.I have a far greater appreciation of the tragedy of Soviet rule, the indifference of America and Britain and above all the suffering of people. Mr. Snyder makes the point to avoid round numbers, which accentuates that we are talking about individuals and makes the tragedy all the more real. I found Mr. Snyder's chapter on the Soviet shift to antisemitism after the war to be very interesting. Mr. Snyder draws larger lessons about the uses of the history of victimhood and the political imperative to rewrite those histories. He therefore goes through great pains to be an objective chronicler, without regard to the cherished myths of Poles, Jews, Russians, Ukrainians, etc. The result leaves one feeling hopeless, which is not to say that you should not read this work, just be prepared. As I read the work, I wondered how Germany (west) recovered from the war and rejoined the family of nations. How was 12 + years of rabid antisemitism and German chauvinism brought into check?Mr. Snyder also chronicles to some extent Holocaust historiography. We tend to associate the Holocaust with Auschwitz because there were more survivors of Auschwitz. There were only a handful of survivors of Babi Yar and Treblinka and therefore we know far less about those places.I highly recommend this book.
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  • Jonathan Yu
    January 1, 1970
    The Bloodlands is a book that I first noticed in a review on Slate. At the time, the review noted several atrocities that the book includes in its pages. I read the review and determined that it made sense to get this book. This book is not a book to be enjoyed. Not a book to be loved. Not a book to sit down and just "read". This is a book that you experience, slog through, and weep on. It destroys your belief in humanity, your optimism for human brotherhood, and causes you to feel unending grie The Bloodlands is a book that I first noticed in a review on Slate. At the time, the review noted several atrocities that the book includes in its pages. I read the review and determined that it made sense to get this book. This book is not a book to be enjoyed. Not a book to be loved. Not a book to sit down and just "read". This is a book that you experience, slog through, and weep on. It destroys your belief in humanity, your optimism for human brotherhood, and causes you to feel unending grief and pain ... then numbness. Numbness because the death is relentless. The death and the confusion and the sheer stupidity of it all just marches on and on. If it is so painful to read this book, then I do not know how Mr. Snyder was able to write it without experiencing a stunning spiral into madness. His numbers are precise, his research is crisp, and the stories he could find - drawn from a dizzying variety of sources - strike at your heart like knives. I will never forget this book for as long as I live.
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  • Rick Riordan
    January 1, 1970
    After our trip through the Baltic this summer, Snyder’s historical account of the mass killings in Eastern Europe had a big impact on me. I’ve now seen a lot of the places he talks about: Gdansk, Poland; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; St. Petersburg, Russia. While the atrocities of Stalin and Hitler aren’t exactly news, the sheer numbers involved and the scope of the destruction are truly staggering. I didn’t know much about Stalin’s starvation policies, or the impossibly complicated situation After our trip through the Baltic this summer, Snyder’s historical account of the mass killings in Eastern Europe had a big impact on me. I’ve now seen a lot of the places he talks about: Gdansk, Poland; Tallinn, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; St. Petersburg, Russia. While the atrocities of Stalin and Hitler aren’t exactly news, the sheer numbers involved and the scope of the destruction are truly staggering. I didn’t know much about Stalin’s starvation policies, or the impossibly complicated situation of Poland and the Baltic states in the 1930s as they were trapped between two despots who were so alike, and yet so diametrically opposed. Synder makes a compelling case, comparing and contrasting Hitler and Stalin’s methods. This book is very bleak reading. I had to take long breaks from it to clear my head. But if you’re interested in this period of history, and want a case study of just how absolutely power can corrupt, and just how horrible humans can be to each other, this book is an excellent choice.
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  • Roseb612
    January 1, 1970
    Ke knize mě přivedl článek v časopise Respekt od autora a také aktuální situace (Rusko obsadilo Krym). Původně jsem měla připravenou na čtení Osvětimskou knihovnici, ale nakonec jsem sáhla po této knize a určitě jsem nelitovala. Rozhodně to není příjemné čtení a po první kapitole pojednávající o ukrajinském hladomoru jsem myslela, že "tohle teda nedám.", ale naštěstí se pak kniha trochu zklidnila (nebo mě nejvíc bere utrpení dětí - matka dvou malých dětí se prostě nezapře). Pohled na dějiny blíz Ke knize mě přivedl článek v časopise Respekt od autora a také aktuální situace (Rusko obsadilo Krym). Původně jsem měla připravenou na čtení Osvětimskou knihovnici, ale nakonec jsem sáhla po této knize a určitě jsem nelitovala. Rozhodně to není příjemné čtení a po první kapitole pojednávající o ukrajinském hladomoru jsem myslela, že "tohle teda nedám.", ale naštěstí se pak kniha trochu zklidnila (nebo mě nejvíc bere utrpení dětí - matka dvou malých dětí se prostě nezapře). Pohled na dějiny blízkých sousedů je to u Snydera určitě neotřelý, ale pro mě rozhodně opodstatněný a člověk si uvědomí, že i když se jedná o sousední země, tak my jsme měli strašné štěstí, že jsme nedopadli podobně a plně pak chápu dnešní postoj Poláků v ruské agresi na Krymu. Snyder se snaží, aby oběti nebyly pouze čísla, v závěru to i pokládá za základní předpoklad uchování historie a možná právě proto je kniha místy opravdu drsná, ale určitě by to měl být "must read" pro všechny, kdo si chtějí udělat ucelenější obrázek a nedávné minulosti v nedalekém okolí a dnes je to bohužel až příliš aktuální, takže někteří čeští politici (a nejen oni) by tohle měli mít jako povinnou četbu.První věta: " "Teď budeme žít." říkával hladový chlapeček, batolící se ztichlými cestami nebo přes pustá pole."Poslední věta: "Židé okupovaného Polska, shromáždění v ghettech pro případnou deportaci, byli namísto toho odvezeni do Belžce, Sobiboru, Chelmna, Treblinky, Osvětimi a Majdanku a zahynuli v tamních plynových komorách."
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  • Kitty Red-Eye
    January 1, 1970
    Quite massive, covering an extremely bloody and violent time and place in less than 450 pages. So obviously, It's very compact and as the topic alone reveals, terrible. But the book is very good. The subject matter is heavy, but It's not very difficult to read, thanks to the author's good organization and presentation of his study. Impressive source material, very interesting perspective with treating the Soviet-German-Soviet-occupied zones of Europe as one and telling the story about these nigh Quite massive, covering an extremely bloody and violent time and place in less than 450 pages. So obviously, It's very compact and as the topic alone reveals, terrible. But the book is very good. The subject matter is heavy, but It's not very difficult to read, thanks to the author's good organization and presentation of his study. Impressive source material, very interesting perspective with treating the Soviet-German-Soviet-occupied zones of Europe as one and telling the story about these nightmare years as one tale, one narrative. Excellent, I'd say.
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  • David Singerman
    January 1, 1970
    Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands"I don't know enough about Eastern-European history to address Snyder's claim that the mass killing of fourteen million people in Poland, Belarus, the Baltic states and western Russia was "the central event" of modern European history. But that certainly seems like a plausible claim, or rather it seems difficult to imagine an event that could be more significant for the history of the continent. Even an invading army can pass over a land like a wave and leave society Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands"I don't know enough about Eastern-European history to address Snyder's claim that the mass killing of fourteen million people in Poland, Belarus, the Baltic states and western Russia was "the central event" of modern European history. But that certainly seems like a plausible claim, or rather it seems difficult to imagine an event that could be more significant for the history of the continent. Even an invading army can pass over a land like a wave and leave society and history to continue much as they were before; but the killing of one in every three people in a place cannot. The Nazis and Soviets killed as great a proportion of the population as did the black death, but while the black death was indiscriminate this was targeted: at Jews, Poles, Ukrainians, the communists, the intelligentsia, the bourgeoisie.To my mind the question about the Holocaust and the other Nazi and Soviet mass killings has always been: how did it happen? I don't mean to ask what motivated or permitted people to kill their friends, neighbors, and countrymen; that part is all too understandable. What I mean is (though to my knowledge Snyder never puts it this way): why did these mass killings happen the way that they did? Why was mass killing organized—why organized the way it was, and why organized at all? To put it another way, if you wanted to kill all the Jews of Europe, why would you not just give your soldiers a standing order to shoot every Jew they met? Or just let them rampage over the countryside? Why would you lock people up in ghettos and then shoot or gas them later? Why not just starve people? Why bother feeding people in camps anything, if you just wanted them to die?These questions Snyder answers. For a victim of one of these totalitarian regimes, how you died depended not just on who you were but where you lived, who was in control, when they were in control, and whether that state happened to be preoccupied by food shortages, labor shortages, the fear of fifth columns, or some combination of these and sheer hatred. Neither of these regimes was some kind of mindless technocracy, slowly putting into action predetermined plans. What was the mechanism that translated the hatred of Hitler or the paranoia of Stalin into the actual shooting of actual people, or into more complex forms of death like the killing factory at Treblinka and the logistical apparatus that fed it? As Snyder points out, what we now think of as "the Final Solution" was actually only the last in a line of plans to deal with the Jews, who were only killed en masse west of the Molotov-Ribbentrop line after plans to expel them, hand them to the Soviets, ship them to Madagascar and deport them to Soviet Central Asia all failed.The Jews, obviously, suffered the most in the sense that the Jewish population in the bloodlands was utterly destroyed. Treblinka, once it was running at full efficiency and maximum capacity, is the real horror and centerpiece of the book. Three quarters of a million people were killed there and their bodies disposed of in a manner that can almost be called precise. The only reason we know anything about its innards is that a few dozen of those Jews selected to labor within its walls saw that, once Warsaw's Jews were disposed of and the facility dismantled, their fates would be sealed too, and rebelled and fled. But the real tragedy is the story of Poland as a whole, a vibrant and independent civilization that was intentionally beheaded by the Germans and Soviets after 1939 and drawn and quartered for good measure, whose cities were subject to deliberate obliteration. The survival of Poland and Polish civilization at all seems a complete miracle.What is the point of this litany of death? Reducing mass killing to its statistics and its sums, Snyder argues, serves us and our base motives, not the dead. And it serves us poorly. The histories of the bloodlands and of the Holocaust are not simple or easy. If we want to do justice to the past, and to really ensure that our present and future do not fall into its shadow, we must remember each person and know how and why they died.
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  • Justin Evans
    January 1, 1970
    Perhaps I'm coming to this too late (eight years after publication), but many of the facts were familiar to me from other work on the war and its aftermath. That said, I was pleasantly surprised. Snyder's presentation was clear, as was his argument, even if the latter wasn't entirely convincing. In a strange way, this is an inversion of great-man history: evil-man history. The mass murders that took place in eastern Europe, for Snyder, often seem to come down to an interaction of Hitler and Stal Perhaps I'm coming to this too late (eight years after publication), but many of the facts were familiar to me from other work on the war and its aftermath. That said, I was pleasantly surprised. Snyder's presentation was clear, as was his argument, even if the latter wasn't entirely convincing. In a strange way, this is an inversion of great-man history: evil-man history. The mass murders that took place in eastern Europe, for Snyder, often seem to come down to an interaction of Hitler and Stalin's brains, which I can't help but think is a little too simplistic. Perhaps this was just a rhetorical move (it's easier to say "Stalin xed" than it is to lay out everything that went into that x), but the effect is a little confounding. That wouldn't at all matter, except that Western historians and Eastern European journalists and public figures have recently made a lot of hay out of not being Nazis (e.g., in law, the Poles never did anything to Jews, even if some things were done to Jews in Polish places), and not being Soviets. Snyder does well in his conclusion to warn against victimhood as an important part of injustice (if you're a victim, your deeds are ipso facto just, even if they're, say, starving Ukrainian peasants to death); that is not a lesson that will be taken from his work by the Anne Appelabums of the world. And, to judge by his own more recent public interventions, Snyder probably didn't take it all that much to heart, either. So, this is a solid book, well worth reading, particularly if you're somehow still in the grips of the History Channel's version of the war. It should be balanced by this review: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/09/ti...which is less balanced than Snyder's book (and is tiresome in its wish to see any criticism of Stalin-and-Hitler as red baiting), but as imbalanced as Snyder's more recent work , and will at least make it clear that those who were caught between the twin horrors of Stalin and Hitler were not small children passively suffering or actively resisting evil. In fact, lots of Eastern Europeans were horrifying human beings before 'Stalin' arrived, while he was there, while 'Hitler' was there, and after 'Stalin' came back. In that, they're like the rest of us, even Timothy Snyder. (To give one example of the imbalance here: Snyder quite rightly rejects the idea of calling Jewish people 'Soviet Jews' just because they were in Eastern European countries when those countries were swallowed by the Soviets. But he's very comfortable indeed with calling non-Jewish people Soviets when they're doing bad things, as if pogroms were caused by and carried out by Soviets who happened to be Polish against Jews who happened to be Soviets, rather than Poles against Jews. Or, despite his universalist humanist plea in the conclusion, consider that Snyder sees the problem with Hitler and Stalin as being their desire for a utopia--that boogeyman of the individualist American--and not that they were both nationalists (and, indeed, one wonders why the Eastern European nationalists who wanted to ethnically cleanse their 'homelands' were somehow less utopian than the Germans and Russian soviets).)
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  • Bou
    January 1, 1970
    A historical research to the mass murders committed by Stalin and Hitler before and during the Second World WarTogether, the nazi and soviet regime massmurdered more than 14 million people. The murders were started in the early 1930's, when Stalin deliberatedly let more than 3 million people starve to death in the Ukraine. It continued with the Great Terror in 1937 and 1938, where approximatedly 700.000 people were shot. During the partition of Poland, both Germany and Russia worked together to A historical research to the mass murders committed by Stalin and Hitler before and during the Second World WarTogether, the nazi and soviet regime massmurdered more than 14 million people. The murders were started in the early 1930's, when Stalin deliberatedly let more than 3 million people starve to death in the Ukraine. It continued with the Great Terror in 1937 and 1938, where approximatedly 700.000 people were shot. During the partition of Poland, both Germany and Russia worked together to kill more than 200.000 people. During the invasion of Russia and the years after that, the Germans killed 4 million Russians, and killed and gassed more than 5,4 million Jews.The bloodlands where the author is referring to, are the lands that experienced the Stalin terror, the subsequent German occupation. It roughly covers Poland, White-Russia and the Ukraine. These people did not suffer once, but suffered multiple times.Bot Hitler and Stalin carried out a policy of extermination, where there was no place for Jews and Slavic people or enemies of the state. Both countries developed a Utopia: the German idea of the colonisation of Russia by the German ubermensch and the Russian idea of a perfect communist state.Both utopia's had to be adjusted to the reality, and the killing started. Soon it became apparent to both Stalin and Hitler that these utopia's were imaginary, and that in reality they never could be achieved. But this didn't stop them from murdering the peoples and continue the lies.This is not a fun book. It shows you when an obvious lie is believed to be the truth, and how this can result in killing of millions of people. Real people, that once lived, loved and died in vain.
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  • Vincent
    January 1, 1970
    Bloodlands is a book that is both deeply disturbing and compelling. It describes an area from the North Sea to the Crimean Sea and from Eastern Poland to Western Ukraine that was the scene of millions of deaths between 1933 - 1949. Caught between Stalin and Hitler it's population was intentionally starved, robbed, abused, tortured and killed in planned, organized and capricious decisions of the two greatest mass murders of the twentieth century.In a recent New York Times article, author Martin A Bloodlands is a book that is both deeply disturbing and compelling. It describes an area from the North Sea to the Crimean Sea and from Eastern Poland to Western Ukraine that was the scene of millions of deaths between 1933 - 1949. Caught between Stalin and Hitler it's population was intentionally starved, robbed, abused, tortured and killed in planned, organized and capricious decisions of the two greatest mass murders of the twentieth century.In a recent New York Times article, author Martin Amis referred to this book and said that he still considered Hitler the worst offender. I'm not sure what is the criteria for deciding who is the worst mass murderer. In my mind it is a toss-up. But, you would not want to read this book and act as a judge in such a contest. You would read it to ask how could this happen? Beyond death, it is also a book about survival and about human dignity in the face of crushing oppression. It is a story of heroics, when you think people would just give up. And yet throughout reading this, you still wonder how it could happen. This is an question for which you never get a good answer.The story of Bloodlands is still being replayed to a lesser extent in other areas around the globe. It is a gripping story that should be read and understood. Because people kept trying to make themselves believe it was not real it became more so. Because we don't want to believe that people can do such things to each other we should be reminded that we can.
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  • Mindaugas Grigas
    January 1, 1970
    Tai knyga, kurią, mano manymu, turėtų perskaityti kiekvienas žmogus. Perskaityti, kad suvokti kas vyko 1933-1945 metais rytinės Europos teritorijose tarp Berlyno ir Maskvos. 14 mln žmonių buvo sunaikinti vien tik Lenkijoje, Baltijos valstybėse, Ukrainoje, Baltarusijoje, vakarų Rusijoje. Aš skaičiau ir man darėsi bloga nuo suvokimo, kad šitos masinės žudynės vyko tik keli dešimtmečiai prieš mano gimimą. Knygoje sudėti aukų, jų budelių, liudininkų atsiminimai. Ir skaičiai. Skaičiai virstantys konk Tai knyga, kurią, mano manymu, turėtų perskaityti kiekvienas žmogus. Perskaityti, kad suvokti kas vyko 1933-1945 metais rytinės Europos teritorijose tarp Berlyno ir Maskvos. 14 mln žmonių buvo sunaikinti vien tik Lenkijoje, Baltijos valstybėse, Ukrainoje, Baltarusijoje, vakarų Rusijoje. Aš skaičiau ir man darėsi bloga nuo suvokimo, kad šitos masinės žudynės vyko tik keli dešimtmečiai prieš mano gimimą. Knygoje sudėti aukų, jų budelių, liudininkų atsiminimai. Ir skaičiai. Skaičiai virstantys konkrečiais žmonėmis. Arba žmonės, virstantys tik skaičiais. Aš supratau, kad koncentracijos stovykla dar nebuvo mirties nuosprendis, skirtingai nuo masinio naikinimo vietų. Kad sąjungininkai, išvadavę kai kurias koncentracijos stovyklas, iš tikro nepamatė tikrųjų mirties stovyklų. Aš pagaliau įsisąmoninau kaip vyko Golodomoras Ukrainoje, kodėl naciai taip lengvai rado sau pagalbininkų Lietuvoje ir kitose valstybėse, kurias prieš ateinant Vermachto kariams, visai nesenai buvo okupavę sovietai. Ką tai reiškia, būti tris kartus iš eilės okupuotu? Skaitydamas kartais norėjau žliumbti. Žiauriai stipri knyga.
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