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Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin…

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (2010)

by Timothy Snyder

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The book describes the killing of more than 14 million people in the name of Stalin and Hitler. Many more people died by deliberate starvation, executions, and other forms of murdering than as direct casualties of the war in the so-called bloodlands: Poland, Ukraine, Belarusse, the Soviet Union west of Moscow.
The author is clear about his aim in this book and in later publications: "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 and put them into perspective. it is for us as humanists to turn the numbers back into peoplel if we cannot do that, the Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, bur our humanity." (p.408) ( )
  Dettingmeijer | Nov 23, 2015 |
Epochal! ( )
  Jacobflaws | Jan 20, 2015 |
In spite of the abundant WWII literature and movies, we only have a partial understanding of things since the first half of the 20th century is still too often viewed through Western European eyes only. Without wanting to minimise what happened in the Western half of the continent, the atrocities in Eastern Europe belonged to a wholly different order of magnitude. The author concentrates on this part of Europe that found itself between two totalitarian states - with tens of millions of civilian victims as a result. He makes the counterintuitive and chilling case how Hitler and Stalin, though political opponents, were often strategic allies in obliterating the population of these bloodlands. The consequences reverberate to this day, both in the physical landscape of the ruined cities, the silence of its lost population and in the geopolitical tensions in countries like Poland and Ukraine. ( )
  fist | Oct 26, 2014 |
In writing Bloodlands, Timothy Snyder has given us a new way to look at the tragedy of the years leading up to and including the Second World War. While it makes for a harrowing read, it is a necessary book for anyone interested in Eastern Europe and the Second World War.

Snyder rightly eschews simplistic comparisons between the deaths caused by both Hitler and Stalin but does not shy away from a brutal retelling of the stories of those many millions who were soon to be voiceless.

If anything, this book provides a brilliant polemic against bureaucracy and totalitarianism while being careful not to dismiss the violence to come out of both fascism and communism as madness or behavior beyond the pale. Snyder teases out the perspectives of victims and oppressors on all sides, allowing one to see causes and consequences not of individual inhumanity but the inhumanity of the systems in which human beings were helplessly entangled.

Finally, Snyder's book provides a useful corrective to the dearth of information which still exists due to decades of Soviet secrecy in the wake of the USSR's victory. One gets the sense that there are volumes of research yet to be undertaken before a complete picture of the tragedy emerges, particularly surrounding deaths in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Undoubtedly the task to uncover this information remains daunting, but Snyder has provided us with the first steps as well as an excellent framework for doing so. ( )
  twp77 | Aug 19, 2014 |
A path-breaking book that analyzes the murderous fate that was visited upon the citizens of nations in East and Central Europe under Stalin and Hitler. Incredibly detailed, the book explores such brutal Soviet policies as the Moscow-ordered famine in Ukraine, the Great Purge, and ethnic deportations that led to tens of thousands of deaths. The author also analyzes the Holocaust and presents a new theory of its cause and an overview of its process. The residents in this narrow slice of Europe had to be some of the unluckiest humans on the planet; for some, Stalin's NKVD was followed by Nazi death squads--and then, as the miltary situation changed--by Soviet terror again. Excellent for understanding the policies and planning that the wartime German and Soviet governments employed. New information includes Nazi documents that forecast the starvation of tens of millions of people in Soviet Russia given a Wermacht lightning victory. Of course a quick knockout did not occur. But the Germans did starve millions of Russian prisoners of war and the death rate was in the millions. The cruelty of these two states is boundless; after the Katyn Forest massacre of Polish officers, Stalin had the families of these men deported to Kazachstan, where many perished in such an alien location. This book demands a strong stomach and a strong urge to learn the "truth." One encounters aspects of humanity--such as routine cannabalism in the face of starvation--that are shocking and simultaneously "rational" given the provocation. ( )
1 vote neddludd | Jun 24, 2014 |
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Snyder’s ambition is to persuade the West—and the rest of the world—to see the war in a broader perspective. He does so by disputing popular assumptions about victims, death tolls, and killing methods—of which more in a moment—but above all about dates and geography. The title of this book, Bloodlands, is not a metaphor. Snyder’s “bloodlands,” which others have called “borderlands,” run from Poznan in the West to Smolensk in the East, encompassing modern Poland, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Belarus, and the edge of western Russia (see map on page 10). This is the region that experienced not one but two—and sometimes three—wartime occupations. This is also the region that suffered the most casualties and endured the worst physical destruction.

More to the point, this is the region that experienced the worst of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s ideological madness.
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.
added by ekorrhjulet | editThe Economist (Oct 14, 2010)
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In this revelatory book, Timothy Snyder offers a groundbreaking investigation of Europe's killing fields and a sustained explanation of the motives and methods of both Hitler and Stalin. He anchors the history of Hitler's Holocaust and Stalin's Terror in their time and place and provides a fresh account of the relationship between the two regime.… (more)

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