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Savage continent: Europe in the aftermath of World War II (2012)

by Keith Lowe

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2761241,007 (4.11)13
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  1. 00
    Year Zero. The History of 1945 by Ian Buruma (gust)
  2. 00
    Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 by Tony Judt (marieke54)
  3. 00
    My Hundred Children by Lena Kuchler-Silberman (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: This memoir by a woman who founded a Jewish orphanage in Poland immediately after the war shows quite a lot of the violence, tension and problems Lowe's book describes.
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Most histories of WWII end with Germany's surrender. That is where this picks up. At times, the descriptions of the brutality and chaos (and it wasn't just the Russians) is at times difficult to get through, but this is a must for anyone interested in how modern Europe came to be. Also, if you think nation building is wasy, because we did in in Europe. Read this. Massive resettlement (today we call it ethnic cleansing) of populations. People who thought nation building in Afganistan or Iraq would be easy should have read this. ( )
1 vote bke | Mar 30, 2014 |
Perhaps the ultimate argument against anarchy is a history of how people behave, what it's really like, when it occurs. This is an excellent look at a forgotten period of history; the first few years post World War II in Europe. ( )
1 vote BruceCoulson | Jan 28, 2014 |
The Second World War might have officially ended in May 1945, but in reality it rumbled on for another ten years...

The end of World War II in Europe is remembered as a time when cheering crowds filled the streets, but the reality was quite different. Across Europe, landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed, and more than thirty million people had been killed in the war. The institutions that we now take for granted—such as police, media, transport, and local and national government—were either entirely absent or compromised. Crime rates soared, economies collapsed, and whole populations hovered on the brink of starvation.. In Savage Continent, Keith Lowe describes a continent where individual Germans and collaborators were rounded up and summarily executed, where concentration camps were reopened, and violent anti-Semitism was reborn. In some of the monstrous acts of ethnic cleansing the world has ever seen, tens of millions were expelled from their ancestral homelands. Savage Continent is the story of post–war Europe, from the close of the war right to the establishment of an uneasy stability at the end of the 1940s. Based principally on primary sources from a dozen countries, Savage Continent is the chronicle of a world gone mad, the standard history of post–World War II Europe for years to come. ( )
2 vote | MarkBeronte | Jan 9, 2014 |
I'm no historian, and I've never given much thought to the immediate aftermath of World War II in Europe. I knew that the Marshall Plan was devised and implemented to help rebuild the gutted economy and infrastructure, and that the Soviets grabbed much of Eastern Europe. But that was about it.
This book documents in considerable detail what actually happened. The fracturing that occurred when nationalities that shared pre-war countries took advantage of the chaotic situation to drive each other out. The vengeance extracted against collaborators. The conflicts that arose when displaced persons returned to their former homes and found them either destroyed or else occupied or looted by their neighbors. ( )
  dickmanikowski | Dec 15, 2013 |
After the horror, more horrors still -- Keith Lowe's compelling book about Europe in the aftermath of WWII shows just how devastated the continent was, and how the devastation continued for months and years. His graphic descriptions make clear the extent to which physical and social structures were totally eradicated by VE Day. This left survivors without food, shelter, or any protection from other, stronger survivors -- women, being less likely to be armed, were prime targets. I found particularly telling his story of British observers who expected the sort of devastation they saw at home when they went to the continent, but saw something far, far worse -- unimaginably worse. And his narrative of events after the war shows the extent to which conflict persisted, in waves of crime, in civil wars, in ethnic cleansing, and all manner of violence in between. He buttresses the narrative with statistics, which he makes a serious attempt to evaluate, illustrating that claims of victimhood multiplied through and after the period. Eventually, the stories and numbers of expulsions, battles, and killings have a numbing effect. One might criticize Lowe's book for the absence of individual experiences of the horror, which might prevent the numbing: Ian Buruma's "Year Zero" does show the experiences of individuals, which may be why it is a more affecting read. But Lowe's book is intended to be general, not particular. It an attempt to show as accurately as possible the devastation that was Europe in 1945, and it succeeds. The only wonder is that most Europeans who lived through the war and the immediate postwar went on to rebuild societies, to have children, and to live what looked like normal lives. ( )
  annbury | Nov 25, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067091746X, Hardcover)

The Second World War might have officially ended in May 1945, but in reality it rumbled on for another 10 years ...Across Europe, landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed and more than 35 million people had been killed in the war. The institutions that we now take for granted - such as the police, the media, transport, local and national government - were either entirely absent or hopelessly compromised. Crime rates were soaring, economies collapsing, and the European population was hovering on the brink of starvation. In this epic book, Keith Lowe describes a continent still racked by violence, where large sections of the population had yet to accept that the war was over. He outlines the warped morality and the insatiable urge for vengeance that were the legacy of the conflict. He describes the ethnic cleansing and civil wars that tore apart the lives of ordinary people from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean, and the establishment of a new world order that finally brought stability to a shattered generation.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Recounts the disorder in Europe after World War II, describing the brutal acts against Germans and collaborators, the anti-Semitic beliefs that reemerged, and the Allied-tolerated expulsions of citizens from their ancestral homelands.

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