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Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web

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Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

To be a child in mid-twentieth-century Europe was to be not a person but an object, available for use in the service of the totalitarian state. Very soon after Adolf Hitler came to power, policies of eugenic selection and euthanasia began to weed ill or disabled children out of the New Order by poison, gas, and starvation. Defect-free "good blood" children were subjected to an "education" based on racism, propaganda, and the glorification of the Führer, and were deliberately deprived of free time that would allow independent thought or action.

Once the war began, "Nordic"-looking children were kidnapped from families in the conquered lands and subjected to "Germanization." Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of "bad blood" children — Jews, Gypsies, Poles, Ukrainians, Russians were separated from their families and condemned to forced migration, slave labor, sadistic experiments, starvation, and mass execution. At the end of the war, uprooted children of every origin wandered the bombed-out cities and countryside, some having been taken from home at such a young age that they did not know where they had come from or even their own names. Millions surged into and out of DP camps, exploited by political and religious groups, while the Allies and the fledgling United Nations tried mightily to put families back together and to find new homes for the orphans.

All the riveting narrative skill and impeccable scholarship that distinguished Lynn Nicholas's first book, The Rape of Europa (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction), are present in her study of these terrible crimes against humanity. To research this story she has delved into the governmental and military archives of many nations, and has interviewed countless individuals. She shows the relationship of the deadly Nazi policies to the brutal tactics used in the USSR in the 1930s and to their rehearsal in the Spanish Civil War, and vividly describes the abject failure of Hitler's campaign to plant Germanizing colonies in the conquered nations. She gives us the stories of survivors of ghastly war-spawned famines (in Greece and Russia in the 1940s, Holland in the "Hunger Winter" of 1945, and Berlin in the Airlift year of 1949) and of British, French, and Dutch children who were evacuated to the countryside; boys and girls sent alone from Europe to England on the Kindertransports; the teenaged soldiers of the Reich; the small veterans of the quarries, the factories, and the camps as well as those who survived in lonely hiding.

In Cruel World Lynn Nicholas shows us clearly, and with passionate empathy for the innocent victims, the crimes against children that inevitably result when ideology overwhelms humanity. This powerful book, as it recounts the waking nightmare that enmeshed the lives of Europe's boys and girls, bears witness to our own responsibility to the children of the twenty-first century.

Review:

"Nicholas's acclaimed The Rape of Europa helped galvanize the return of Nazi-looted art. While this work is unlikely to have such practical impact, it demonstrates a similar breadth of research and historical compassion. She looks at the effect of Nazi policies on children as a recounting of the nonmilitary story of WWII. Casting a wide net, Nicholas examines such phenomena as the Kindertransports — in which Jewish children were brought from central Europe to England on the eve of the war — and the transport of supposedly 'Aryan' Norwegian girls to Germany to breed. Nicholas shows how the Nazis tried, with varying degrees of success, to export their eugenic theories and racist ideology to the educational realm throughout occupied Europe. And focusing on the homeland of the Third Reich, she delineates how German children were socialized into Nazi culture. Relying on a prodigious amount of primary and secondary sources as well as interviews, she emphasizes the resilience of the young. 'Most of Europe's children would, in the next few years, develop a self-protective shell of voyeurism and casualness toward the monstrous events around them.' But as she notes in conclusion, the horrors of the war years stayed with those who saw them through young eyes. At times, Nicholas loses her focus, retelling the much-told story of the war itself. But there is no doubt that she has put together a well-written, compelling history that makes us look at the war era anew. 39 photos, 3 maps." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"The combination of the authoritative overview with the searing detail makes this an invaluable reference source as well as a riveting history for the general reader." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"[Nicholas] takes the book's diffuse subjects and molds them into a master narrative that is chilling in its detail." Library Journal

Review:

"[A] work of impressive scholarship...a historical gem." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Book News Annotation:

To research her study of European children affected by Nazi policies, Nicholas interviewed many of the survivors and examined the governmental and military archives of several nations. She shows the relationship between Nazi policies and tactics used in the USSR in the 1930s and in the Spanish Civil War. She also recounts the stories of the Kindertransport children, the teenaged children of the Reich, and the survivors of wartime famines, camps and factories.
Annotation 2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Lynn H. Nicholas was born in New London, Connecticut, and educated in the United States, England, and Spain. The Rape of Europa has been translated into more than a dozen languages. It inspired an international movement to locate and repatriate works of art and other property confiscated and stolen by individuals and governments before and during World War II. Ms. Nicholas was elected to the Légion d'Honneur by the government of France. She has become widely known as a lecturer on the issues addressed in The Rape of Europa and Cruel World, and has appeared as an expert witness in art-repatriation trials and before Congress.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780679454649
Subtitle:
The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web
Author:
Nicholas, Lynn H.
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Children's Studies
Subject:
Military - World War II
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
Children
Subject:
Europe - General
Subject:
Holocaust
Publication Date:
20050510
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
36 PHOTOGRAPHS IN TEXT; 2 MAPS
Pages:
656
Dimensions:
9.4 x 6.6 x 1.88 in 2.2 lb

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » Nazi Germany
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » Nazi Germany

Cruel World: The Children of Europe in the Nazi Web Used Hardcover
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$13.95 In Stock
Product details 656 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780679454649 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Nicholas's acclaimed The Rape of Europa helped galvanize the return of Nazi-looted art. While this work is unlikely to have such practical impact, it demonstrates a similar breadth of research and historical compassion. She looks at the effect of Nazi policies on children as a recounting of the nonmilitary story of WWII. Casting a wide net, Nicholas examines such phenomena as the Kindertransports — in which Jewish children were brought from central Europe to England on the eve of the war — and the transport of supposedly 'Aryan' Norwegian girls to Germany to breed. Nicholas shows how the Nazis tried, with varying degrees of success, to export their eugenic theories and racist ideology to the educational realm throughout occupied Europe. And focusing on the homeland of the Third Reich, she delineates how German children were socialized into Nazi culture. Relying on a prodigious amount of primary and secondary sources as well as interviews, she emphasizes the resilience of the young. 'Most of Europe's children would, in the next few years, develop a self-protective shell of voyeurism and casualness toward the monstrous events around them.' But as she notes in conclusion, the horrors of the war years stayed with those who saw them through young eyes. At times, Nicholas loses her focus, retelling the much-told story of the war itself. But there is no doubt that she has put together a well-written, compelling history that makes us look at the war era anew. 39 photos, 3 maps." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The combination of the authoritative overview with the searing detail makes this an invaluable reference source as well as a riveting history for the general reader."
"Review" by , "[Nicholas] takes the book's diffuse subjects and molds them into a master narrative that is chilling in its detail."
"Review" by , "[A] work of impressive scholarship...a historical gem."
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