★ Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II Author Keith Lowe – 1sm.info

Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II This is the third in my series of great books on World War Two First, Max Hastings in All Hell Let Loose gives the whole story, and brilliantly simplifies it too He explains, and I m convinced, that WW2 was essentially between Germany and the USSR, or between Hitler and Stalin if you wish Everything else was a side show He goes further the result was never in doubt If Hitler and Stalin were equally ruthless, Stalin always had men at his disposal, and Russia always had its vast size and epic winters it was never going to be defeated by Germany Proving this was, as we know, ferociously, murderously, inhumanly difficult and accounted for most of the war dead Hastings goes further still the second major theatre of war, USA vs Japan, was likewise never in doubt Although the Japanese had run through Indo China like a knife through butter their industrial strength was tiny compared to the USA, so within a couple of years they were bound to run out of material ships, tanks, guns Likewise, proving that foregone conclusion was deathly So that was the big picture The next two books gave the detail of two parts which I knew little or nothing about Ian Kershaw s The End gives a gruesomely detailed description of the final year of the war in Europe, the Gotterdammerung catastrophe of Germany itself, which, as you contemplate its massive, thorough ruination, puts you in mind of a nation sized Savage Continent Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe is an excellent book and a ground breaking study of the years that followed the Second World War.I have read a lot of books about the war and the concentrations camps and the violence and atrocities that took place in Europe at this time.I had never actually read a book about the aftermath of the war although I had often wondered about this period in history The World War left Europe in chaos Landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed and that 35 million people killed Across most of the continent the institutions that we now take for granted such as the police and the media, transport, national government were either absent or hopelessly compromised Crime rates soared, economies collapsed and the European population hovered on the brink of starvation.This book is divided into 4 sections dealing with The Legacy of War , Vengeance, Ethnic Cleansing and Civil War.Most of us have the impression that the end of the War meant the end of the A Polish partisan page 218, my bookThe Ukrainians in turn took their revenge by destroying a village of 500 Poles and torturing and killing all who fell in their hands We responded by destroying two of their larger villages This was how the fighting escalated Each time people were killed, houses burnt, women raped Men become desensitised very quickly and kill as if they know nothing else Page 365 It was virtually impossible to emerge from the Second World War without enemies.virtually every person on the continent had suffered some kind of loss or injustice.We often think of the Second World War in Europe as ending in May of 1945 We have plentiful images of happiness in the U.S and England but such was not the case on the continent.The author points out that the six long years of war had virtually destroyed all things civilized Chaos was the norm Transportation was non existent cities lay in ruins, and civil society police, government had evaporated There was a constant struggle for food and shelter There were millions of slave labourers on the roads Some wanted to go back to a home that no longer existed others, particularly Russians and Poles, did not want to go home In all cases home would be something vastly different than it was in 1939 The overall feeling was of vengeance to the German, to the collaborator, other ethnic groups, and even to the few remaining Jews left Mob violence was the norm T The war was over..hooray and let s celebrate Of course, that was not the case at all but historians often give short shrift to the horrors of the years in Europe immediately following WWII The end of that conflagration only initiated the start of othersdisplaced persons, prisoners, war crimes, nationalism giving way to violence, continued ethnic cleansing ,the rise of Communism, etc Governments were gone as well as economies and physical infrastructure Europe was a hell on earth and the author delves deep into those problems in this excellent book He points the finger when and where it is appropriate as he posits that some of the total breakdown of eastern Europe could have been prevented but for the bullying of the United States and Britain by the Soviet Union It is not enough to portray the war as a simple conflict between the Axis and the Allies over territory Some This book is a revelation, as other reviewers have pointed out, for those of us whose view of history was that WWII led to the Cold War, and events in between didn t matter much because we knew what happened in the end I at least learned that I knew nothing Ignoring the forced cultural shifts and anarchy that occurred after WWII is to ignore the underpinnings of most of the Euro centric conflicts that have occurred and are ongoing today.Another milestone I ve never read a book that has given rise in to such disgust at the deplorable lows that humans can be brought to by years of mental anguish Frequently reading this book gave way to raw emotion, but also speculation at how the political and cultural demonizations that occurred post WWII are still visible in my own prejudices.This book is the most important read for anybody interested not only WWII s aftermath, but in comprehending the undercurrents of many modern political movements especially in Europe and America and A Goodreads friend of mine recently asked why I ve been reading and reviewing so many history books of late I told him I like history Then why don t you write history books he asked, rather than coming of age novels obsessed with, as one reviewer discovered, sucking dick Once upon a time, I did want to be a historian As a kid, I inhaled history I knew about events and places at an age when most kids barely knew about the world beyond their town To this day, adult friends ask me when such and such happened They re invariably amused when I tell them exact dates In the distant past, I liked history so much I started college intending to make it my major, even though it meant laughable job prospects.Something happened in university, though While I had a few interesting history professors, I also had to read textbooks that were thick, heavy, and about as fascinating as reading phone books These bricks were written by pedants with no talent and self satisfied profundity and all my passion for history was killed by them A passion that didn t return until recently, beginning with Thomas Fleming s Illusion of Victory and continuing furiously until who knows when.As for this book, let me just say This is how history books should be written It s perfect The subject is a good one, explored fully This is a stunning portrait of the continent wide upheaval that followed World War II The cover itself is vastly different from the American post war images of cheering crowds and ticker tape parades The average European soldier, prisoner of war, or concentration camp survivor did not go home to a GI Bill, a booming economy, or even a welcome Going home probably meant a new internment in a former death camp where supplies were short Since most transportation was destroyed travel was by foot with little food, shelter or protection from bandits or partisans along the way Most likely the home was destroyed, and the community with it.Keith Howe brings a lot together He presents statistics along with the human tragedies that define them He arranges the work by problems loss of infrastructure, need for revenge, famine, legal breakdown, the frequency and brutality of rape, ethnic hatred, famine, and moral destruction and by country.He shows World War II was many wars within one, and how the surrender of the big powers did not settle all the issues Crowds, in the heat of liberation, meted out punishment for the perpe Winner Of The PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize A Superb And Immensely Important Book Jonathan Yardley, The Washington PostThe Second World War Might Have Officially Ended In May 1945, But In Reality It Rumbled On For Another Ten YearsThe End Of World War II In Europe Is Remembered As A Time When Cheering Crowds Filled The Streets, But The Reality Was Quite Different Across Europe, Landscapes Had Been Ravaged, Entire Cities Razed, And Than Thirty Million People Had Been Killed In The War The Institutions That We Now Take For Granted Such As Police, Media, Transport, And Local And National Government Were Either Entirely Absent Or Compromised Crime Rates Soared, Economies Collapsed, And Whole Populations Hovered On The Brink Of Starvation In Savage Continent, Keith Lowe Describes A Continent Where Individual Germans And Collaborators Were Rounded Up And Summarily Executed, Where Concentration Camps Were Reopened, And Violent Anti Semitism Was Reborn In Some Of The Monstrous Acts Of Ethnic Cleansing The World Has Ever Seen, Tens Of Millions Were Expelled From Their Ancestral Homelands Savage Continent Is The Story Of Post War Europe, From The Close Of The War Right To The Establishment Of An Uneasy Stability At The End Of The 1940s Based Principally On Primary Sources From A Dozen Countries, Savage Continent Is The Chronicle Of A World Gone Mad, The Standard History Of Post World War II Europe For Years To Come. Keith Lowe has written an interesting, revealing and disturbingly thoughtful book that examines a little known and rarely discussed reality of Europe in the aftermath of World War II What I find interesting and thought provoking, is the knowledge and increased awareness that reading Savage Continent has put before me from a political as well as cultural perspective The frightening condition of the European nations, including Britain, at the end of WWII were disguised, hidden from view, or sanitized out of the news Reading this history of the horrendous distruction of European fabric, culturally, economically, morally and physically, that was spread across all of Europe and the Soviet Union as a result of WWII, one begins to understand the depth of feelings and prejudicial attitudes that seem to be reap Most people think when WWII ended, it was over No so The terrifying aftermath lasted for many years and Savage Continent provides enough details to make us wonder why we like to go to Europe at all The viciousness meted out to surviving Jews who had the audacity to return to their former homes seeking what had been taken from them is sad beyond


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