After the Reich
The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation
Basic Books 2007
New Books in European StudiesNew Books in German StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network June 19, 2009 Marshall Poe
Many years ago I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Germany, more specifically in a tiny town on the Rhine near Koblenz. The family I stayed with looked for all the world like typical Rhinelanders. They even had their own small Weingut where they made a nice Riesling. But they were not originally from the Rhinegau at all. They were from East Prussia, a place where there are no longer any Germans and a place that no longer really exists. They commemorated their erstwhile Heimat by keeping a large, old map of East Prussia on their living room wall. If you’re curious as to how my host family made the trek from Baltic to the Rhine, you’ll want to read Giles MacDonogh’s hair-raising book After the Reich. The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation (Basic Books, 2007). The atrocities committed by the Nazis are of course very well known to nearly everyone. But the outrages committed by the Allies in retribution for said crimes are less familiar. Giles sets the record straight by chronicling what can only be seen as an Allied campaign of vengeance. They pillaged and raised much of Germany and they raped, massacred, starved, and deported millions of Germans. The Russians were the greatest offenders, but the Americans, British, and French were hardly guiltless. It’s hard to know what to think about what they did. The Nazis were monsters, and many ordinary Germans were complicit in their crimes. They deserved punishment. But was justice served?
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