Anton Weiss-Wendt

The Nazi Genocide of the Roma and Racial Science in Hitler's New Europe

Berghahn Books and University of Nebraska 2015

New Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in European StudiesNew Books in Genocide StudiesNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 6, 2015 Kelly McFall

Normally I don’t try and talk about two books in the same interview. But, in discussing the interview, Anton Weiss-Wendt suggested that it made...

Normally I don’t try and talk about two books in the same interview. But, in discussing the interview, Anton Weiss-Wendt suggested that it made sense to pair The Nazi Genocide of the Roma (Berghahn Books, 2015) and Racial Science in Hitler’s New Europe, 1938-1945 (University of Nebraska Press, 2013) together. His instinct was sound. While they deal with different subjects, they share a common approach and structure that casts new light on each subject individually and on the war more generally.

Often, works on the Holocaust focus on Germany, Poland and the USSR while marginalizing smaller and weaker countries. The two books here certainly address these countries. But they do the topic a great service by bringing other areas to the forefront. Each book is structured geographically, with contributors examining the course of racial science or the genocide of the Roma in a specific country. This allows the authors to look in depth at the historical context that led to different decisions and ideas. And it allows them to honor the agency of Rumanians or Croations or Latvians rather than simply surveying German actions in specific regions.

Such an approach might have led to a series of essays that ran parallel to each other without ever touching on common themes. Fortunately, Weiss-Wendt (and his co-editor, Rory Yeomans) make sure that doesn’t happen. Instead, the careful construction of the essays and the thoughtful introductions shed light on patterns of behavior and the interactions that shaped genocide across Eastern Europe. In doing so, they’ve added to our knowledge not just of the genocide of the Roma or of racial science, but of the role and actions of peoples heretofore largely ignored in the literature.

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