Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

Book - 2010
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From the bestselling author of On Tyranny comes the definitive history of Hitler's and Stalin's wars against the civilians of Europe in World War II.
Americans call the Second World War "The Good War."But before it even began, America's wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens--and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war's end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness.

Bloodlands is a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single history, in the time and place where they occurred: between Germany and Russia, when Hitler and Stalin both held power. Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive, Bloodlands will be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the central tragedy of modern history.

Bloodlands won twelve awards including the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought. It has been translated into more than thirty languages, was named to twelve book-of-the-year lists, and was a bestseller in six countries.

Publisher: New York : Basic Books, c2010.
ISBN: 9780465002399
Branch Call Number: 940.54050947 S675
Characteristics: xix, 524 p. : maps ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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Aug 01, 2020

The "bloodlands" are defined as the countries unfortunate enough to stand between Hitler and Stalin, from 1933 to 1945 and beyond, and who thus endured up to three separate and deadly occupations - Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and the three Baltic republics. The story of at least 14 million (!!) civilian deaths does not thus begin with the joint invasion of Poland by Soviet troops and the Nazis in 1939, and it does not end with the fall of Berlin. And since so many of the atrocities executed by both sides ended up behind the Iron Curtain, and the politicization of WWII history on both sides of the Cold War, the stories of Katyn, Babi Yar, and Treblinka are less known to Western history than the tip of the Nazi iceberg in Buchenwald and even Auschwitz. Snyder sets out to tell this terrible story complete for the first time.
Millions die in every chapter, from the deadly and planned famines in Soviet Ukraine, to the operations of Soviet mass ethnic murder (the Great Terror) across their central "republics," to the Nazi policies towards prisoners of war and their operations of mass ethnic murder (the Holocaust of bullets in western Poland, bullets and gas to the east), to both sides' vicious anti-partisan actions and the incineration of Warsaw, and following into the Soviet re-shaping of ethnic and national boundaries (a very real if somewhat less lethal kind of ethnic cleansing), and the pervasive "Stalinist anti-Semitism" after the war. The concluding reflection on the place of humanity within a modern state is well-worth considering for 21st-century lessons, including the humanity of all concerned - "victors, perpetrators, bystanders, and leaders" - that must be examined to be understood. Every number, ideally, the author concludes, must be turned back into a single individual human person.

Mar 31, 2020

Those who lived in what Timothy Snyder calls the “Bloodlands” – Poland, the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, and western Russia – suffered at least 14 million dead between 1930 and 1953 – and not, as the dates make clear, just as a result of World War Two. In this exhaustively researched and masterfully written study, Snyder details the waves of invasion and occupation which washed back and forth over this area; and which included and were preceded, and followed, by deliberate starvation, genocide, forced labor, deportations, and ethnic cleansing. Hitler from the west and Stalin from the east attempted to impose on the “Bloodlands” their plans to add the area to either Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, depending upon who eventually won the titanic military and ideological struggle (although this was, as the book makes clear, neither the beginning nor the end of the story); and the unfortunate inhabitants were caught in the middle, often with nowhere to turn for help or rescue, swept up in events beyond their control and which few of them understood, but which forced them to focus for many years on mere survival; and millions did not. Perhaps in no other area during World War Two – save perhaps in China, which suffered untold depredations at the hands of the Japanese – was the veneer of civilization so completely stripped away and the descent into absolute barbarism so profound.

The Harvest of Sorrow, the Great Terror, much of the Holocaust, forced deportations of ethnic and national groups, ethnic cleansing – all resulted from Hitler’s and Stalin’s desire to transform the demographic and economic landscape of the area; Hitler, to create “lebensraum” for the German people, with the entire population of the area being either deported or simply annihilated in order to make room for them; and Stalin, to collectivize agriculture and industrialize the Soviet Union. Anyone who stood in the way, or who was perceived to do so, or who was seen to be a possible opponent to these efforts, was a likely candidate for elimination; and it was always the fault of the poor unfortunates, and never of the Führer or of the General Secretary of the Supreme Soviet.

Anyone who reads this book is likely already familiar with who those victims were. It is a long a depressing list, but vital for understanding how eastern Europe came to be what it is today. What is most important to take away from this work is what can potentially happen when the humanity of people is forgotten, or worse, deliberately sacrificed, in the pursuit of political or ideological goals. It is encouraging that North Macedonia has just joined NATO as of this writing (the Balkans, of course, being another area where these lessons were learned the hard way and must not be forgotten). Poland and the Baltic states have all joined in recent years. Hopefully this will help increase the likelihood that the phenomenon of the Bloodlands never happens again, anywhere.

Feb 22, 2020

"Stalin's empire covered Hitler's. The iron curtain fell between West and East, and between the survivors and the dead."
Brutal and comprehensive history of those who died in the 30s and 40s, either at the hands of the Nazis of Soviet Russia. There's so much death and devastation that it can be overwhelming, but it's an important, commanding book. I'd also recommend his very short book "On Tyranny" and Anne Applebaum's "Iron Curtain."
"Between them, the Nazi and Stalinist regimes murdered more than fourteen million people in the bloodlands."

Sep 16, 2019

A history of the mass killings led by Stalin and Hitler. For all the hype that was given this book did not draw me in and engage my interest.

May 29, 2019

'Bloodlands' puts important context to comprehend and understand WWII, Stalin's Great Terror, and the Holocaust. By providing thoroughly researched details of the geography and timing, the author Timothy Snyder really brings out the horror of the massive loss of lives in the lands between Germany and Russia. Snyder explores and compares the issues between Hitler and Stalin, and how they sort of tag-teamed in wiping out the cultures of Eastern Europe entirely.
This book made a strong impression on me, especially in understanding what can happen with authoritarian leaders without any conscience or restraints.

Feb 28, 2019

Yale professor. Also a little tiny book called Tyranny.

Nov 24, 2017

The critics who accused Snyder as a fascist apologist and sympathizer are reaching quite a bit in my opinion.

The suffering described in the chapters dedicated to the Ukrainian famine or Stalin's purge of Katyn pale in comparison the atrocities Dirlewanger and the Waffen SS committed in their rampage across Belarus. Snyder deftly details all of these events, but there was never a doubt in my mind while reading that Hitler's regime committed worse sins than Stalin's.

As a layperson, this book came across as very thorough and fair. The amount of primary sources Snyder has pored through and synthesized is outstanding, and it's a testament to his skill as a writer that the meticulous nature of the book never really feels dull or repetitive.

If there's any singular criticism I can give, it's that Synder's thesis seems a bit self-evident: There was no worse person to be than a neutral civilian living on the eastern front in the year 1942. Not exactly a shocking revelation, but if you're interested in the history of WWII outside of a military context, this book is essential IMO.

Aug 21, 2017

A heart-wrenching, readable, meticulously researched, monumental history of the origins of Stalin's Communism and Hitler's National Socialism, and the symbiosis and commonalities of their political and social policies carried out between them that resulted in scales of monstrous depravites never before contemplated, let alone carried out, on our planet. Destined to become a classic, a must read for every thinking person interested in the origins and history of these two movements that continue to shake the world today, of WW2, and indeed a cautionary tale of the obscene depths to which mankind can descend.

Mar 11, 2016

Snyder’s history looks at the events occurring from the early 1930s to the 1950s in the region that falls in the triangle between Berlin, Leningrad and the Black Sea and attempts to view those events in an interrelated, broader perspective. As Snyder frames it, “In this competition for memory, the Holocaust, the other German mass killing policies, and the Stalinist mass murders became three different histories, even though in historical fact they shared a place and time”. To put each of the “three histories” in context does not minimize them but shows how the interaction of the three histories influenced each of the others.

Snyder chides the countries and leaders engaged in “competitive martyrology” post-WWII and some of the results from just such exaggeration. He closes with one of his themes in the book stressing the uniqueness of each life in the compilation of these death records. His intertwining of personal accounts and anecdotes in the history of the region moves the action beyond simply recording what happened and provides human dimensions. As Snyder stresses in Chapter 8:

“People were perhaps alike in dying and in death, but each of them was different until that final moment, each had different preoccupations and presentiments until all was clear and then all was black.” It is easy to become numb as the deaths mount and the atrocities worsen, but Snyder restores the humanity to the victims so they are no longer just “round numbers.”

An impressive book: highest recommendation.

634krosno Feb 17, 2016

Very important book about WWII and the destruction of Poland and its population by the Nazis and the Russians. For for readers who have little knowledge of what happened to Poland and the massive suffering of its populations under the Nazis and the deportations by Russians of innocent civilians to Siberian prison camps where 70% of the exiles died.

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