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What We Knew by Eric Johnson and Karl Heinz RuebandThis fascinating non fiction work is a collection of testimonies from those involved in the Holocaust, including Jewish deportees, Concentration Camp survivors, ordinary German citizens as well as those in military service during that chilling time The book itself is an academic sociological account of individual experiences, the premise of which is to establish the extent of which the German population was aware, or otherwise, of the crimes ag What We Knew by Eric Johnson and Karl Heinz RuebandThis fascinating non fiction work is a collection of testimonies from those involved in the Holocaust, including Jewish deportees, Concentration Camp survivors, ordinary German citizens as well as those in military service during that chilling time The book itself is an academic sociological account of individual experiences, the premise of which is to establish the extent of which the German population was aware, or otherwise, of the crimes against humanity committed in their names.Johnson and Reuband argue quite cogently that many assumptions about Nazi tyranny are plain wrong What is very quickly made clear is that for the overwhelming majority of non Jewish, apolitical Germans, life under Hitler was, from around 1933 to 1943, not particularly harsh or brutal, especially in comparison to Stalin s Russia, and later Mao s China To understand Hitler s popularity several contributors relate accounts of how, during the early days of National Socialism, Hitler restored national pride and reduced both raging unemployment and escalating crime Of course this was predicated on overtly racist policies of which scapegoats were an essential component For the Nazis to regard Germans as racially superior, both intellectually and physically, it obviously followed that other races were inferior The lives of ordinary Germans were not particularly unpleasant under Hitler and long wished for stability was restored The evidence collated here leads to the conclusion that surprisingly few Germans were vehement blood red Nazis, but, the majority of the populace approved of many aspects of Nazi doctrine, including anti Semitism Moreover, many individuals saw membership of the Nazi party as essential for career advancement What we now consider abhorrent National Socialism was, at that time, regarded as radical and in many ways successful In reading What We Knew it is essential that this is understood and accepted.In part What We Knew demonstrates is that the persecution and eventual genocide of the Jewish race was a cumulative process, arrived at by incremental goose steps, beginning with the erosion of Jewish civil liberties, such as the right to own a business or the use of public transport Two pivotal events, described here, that had such tragic consequences for the Jewish people were the humiliating yellow stars that they were forced to wear, and Kristallnacht in 1937 Hitler and Goebbels gave tacit approval for vandalism, brutality and the burning of Synagogues Of course this process would eventually culminate in the chimneys of Auschwitz.Many of the testimonies collected here are uncomfortable reading, especially as many of those interviewed provide evidence that it was distressingly easy for Hitler to draw from a well of Anti Semitism that ran as deep and far as the Baltic Sea German soldiers give statements that many Poles and Ukrainians were, in some cases,than willing to do the Nazis murderous dirty work of the for them Within the pages of this remarkable work are detailed and vivid accounts of everyday life within the chaos that National Socialism wrought throughout the whole of Europe the day to day tortuous battle for survival of the fleeing and desperate European Jews the death march of the ragged and starving barely alive prisoners after the liquidation of the death camps the half frozen German soldiers on the Russian front the German villagers who risked deportation themselves by hiding Jewish families from the Gestapo.The conclusions arrived at here, by primary sources rather than anecdotal evidence, is that the German populace were, for the most part, farcomplicit in Nazi tyranny than was previously believed to be the case This culpability is difficult to argue against when the sheer volume individuals involved in the administration if such a euphemism may be used in this context of the death camps is taken into account The disappearance of millions could not conceivably have gone unnoticed by whole sections of the population Further, even in the midst of war across the whole of Europe and much of the world, the deliberate policy of mass extermination of a race by such foul methods must have spread from camp guard to extended family and beyond Of course, some of the testimonies here are mildly contradictory many Jewish people were unaware of the precise nature of the hell on earth that was Auschwitz whilst others claim knew what was occurring as early as 1944 What is undeniable, however, is that the collective claim made by a generation of Germans in the aftermath of the war that, we didn t know what was going on , can, with much justification, be regarded as disingenuous.What We Knew is a fascinating work that illuminates the depths to which humanity can sink as well as the compassion heights to which it can rise The necessarily detached and clinical tone of the authors conclusions at the end of each section, ironically, are shafts of light which illuminate rather than smother the accounts of this dark period in history Ultimately I would advice anyone with an interest in this history to read this I would also recommend it to those who claim that that human rights are not important issues or that politics is boring What We Knew by Eric Johnson and Karl Heinz Rueband and countless contributors prove otherwise This is a difficult book to read for obvious reasons I found out about this book after visiting the Gestapo Museum there really is such a place in Cologne, Germany It was the former Gestapo headquarters during the Nazi Era, and the exhibit there on life during Nazi Germany was fascinating So I wanted to learnThe book is based on an academic teams research of Germans who were in their late teens, early 20 s during the Nazi period in Germany both Jews and non Jews It was a mix o This is a difficult book to read for obvious reasons I found out about this book after visiting the Gestapo Museum there really is such a place in Cologne, Germany It was the former Gestapo headquarters during the Nazi Era, and the exhibit there on life during Nazi Germany was fascinating So I wanted to learnThe book is based on an academic teams research of Germans who were in their late teens, early 20 s during the Nazi period in Germany both Jews and non Jews It was a mix of both interviews and questionnaires to try to determine what exactly was common knowledge in Germany about the concentration camps, the mass extermination of Jews, and the repression that existed from both informal general anti Semitism and formal State Security and Police measures Many of the stories are heartbreaking, and reveal a lot of both human nature not wanting to believe in the evil that exists, the occasional oasis of compassion and courage in the desert of general human suffering The final third of the book deals with the statistical details of the analysis, which I skipped over The first two thirds of the book are generally short chapters highlighting specific interviewees as they recount their lives during the Nazi period I ve never read acomprehensive history of day to day life in Nazi Germany, so I found that aspect of the book interesting Overall, if you are interested in this subject, I can strongly recommend But for casual students of history, it is a bit too academic the last third, as mentioned It s hard to review a book so tragic This is an oral history of Nazi Germany before and during World War II Interviews are sorted into chapters focusing on Jews who left Germany before or after Kristallnacht, Jews who went into hiding, people who knew little about the mass murder of the Jews, people who heard about it, and people who witnessed or participated in it What was interesting was reading about every day life from so many different perspectives The interviews are extensive Those in It s hard to review a book so tragic This is an oral history of Nazi Germany before and during World War II Interviews are sorted into chapters focusing on Jews who left Germany before or after Kristallnacht, Jews who went into hiding, people who knew little about the mass murder of the Jews, people who heard about it, and people who witnessed or participated in it What was interesting was reading about every day life from so many different perspectives The interviews are extensive Those interviewed are quizzed about their childhood, their involvement in political groups as teenagers, what their friends and family and neighbors were saying about the events of the day, what they heard, who they heard it from essentially how and what they knew What was difficut was hearing what most of them had to say The despair in the answers of those who heard things but were unable to help The horror in those who witnessed atrocities and were forced to keep quiet The remorse in those who knew little to nothing until it was all over But most of all, the atrocities themselves, often related in great detail.One thing I will take away from this is seeing the relatively small steps taken in Germany very early on that made the changes appear so slight and the effects so gradual, that it shaped many Germans into not only accepting the anti Semitic propaganda, but supporting it as well It s a valuable lesson to anyone who is interested in studying historic, political trends so as to prevent dark chapters in history from repeating itself.I would obviously recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust But also anyone interested in learningabout eastern Europe s political climate in the 1930 s Great book with some great interviews, showing all sides of life in Nazi Germany before and during World War II Anyone who loved the GENERATION WAR mini series should read this book Johnson sums up years of interviews and research in his attempt to determine exactly what ordinary German citizens knew about what was going on in the concentration camps during World War II The first two thirds of the book are transcribed interviews with individuals representative of all towns, classes, education backgrounds, and religions of mid 20th century Germany the first half of the interviews are with German Jewish survivors both concentration camp survivors as well as those who went Johnson sums up years of interviews and research in his attempt to determine exactly what ordinary German citizens knew about what was going on in the concentration camps during World War II The first two thirds of the book are transcribed interviews with individuals representative of all towns, classes, education backgrounds, and religions of mid 20th century Germany the first half of the interviews are with German Jewish survivors both concentration camp survivors as well as those who went into hiding or otherwise were able to escape and the second half are with non Jewish Germans All speak of everyday life in Hitler s Germany before and during the war, what they knew about the atrocities being committed, and how they found out The interviews are all interesting first hand accounts rather than a historian s retelling of events what s interesting in the German accounts is that most claim to be blind to the antisemitism while most Jews claimed to have been victims in some sense The third part of the book combines the statistical data from the interviews along with the author s analysis, presenting an easy to understand report supporting the author s hypothesis that the AVERAGE person in Germany had some inkling of what was going on, though perhaps not to the extent of what was actually happening At times the book seems like it s almost apologetic to the German people, making excuses for them for not coming to the aid of the Jews, but in a sense you see that many Germans were victims as well, and that they d meet the same fate if they spoke out against or otherwise didn t support the Nazi party Protect yourself unfortunately was the rule and came before helping strangers, but it was such a different world and it would be unfair to judge these people by today s standards It was definitely a great read, and as a compilation of so many primary sources and numbers, pretty reliable when it comes to the facts of this time in history I ve long been interested in the ways in which people interpret their societies, especially the lacunae, the things that to paraphrase Renan the nation chooses to forget How does this happen What sorts of things get forgotten Does everyone in a given society necessarily know of this What, in short, are the mechanics by which people imagine their societies past and present As if to satisfy this interest of mine, American Eric Johnson and German Karl Heinz Reuband authored the 2005 tome Wha I ve long been interested in the ways in which people interpret their societies, especially the lacunae, the things that to paraphrase Renan the nation chooses to forget How does this happen What sorts of things get forgotten Does everyone in a given society necessarily know of this What, in short, are the mechanics by which people imagine their societies past and present As if to satisfy this interest of mine, American Eric Johnson and German Karl Heinz Reuband authored the 2005 tome What We Knew Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany.The main thing that emerges from What We Know, with its interviews of German Jews and Christians alike, is that people operated highly selectively Individuals had their own individual experiences different relationships with others, different others to have relationships with, different local environments Some German Jews experienced numerous kindnesses from their neighbours others did not Some German Christians were pleased with Nazi anti Semitism others accepted the Nazis on practical grounds, for their apparent solutions to the problems of the German economy and German power in Europe and the wider And, most notably, some Germans did know about the Holocaust, thanks to the links of individuals with people serving on the Eastern Front or otherwise through rumours which managed to propagate through German society, but many of these people including Jews didn t believe that these things were happening Fear was a major factor some people seem authentically not to have known what was going on, because the fear of being caught transgressing through rumour spreading by the Nazi regime was too great Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, in other words, was a terribly fragmented society, where people in all kinds of different positions were simply unable to share experiences in common What We Knew is an essential contribution to the sociology and psychology of societies under totalitarian rule Fragmentation, as Johnson and Reuband make clear, is the ruleoften than not I would have liked consideration as to how these experiences were assembled after totalitarianism s end, but then, that s a different subject indeed Here s my haunting take away Humans aren t different in 2014 than they were in the 1940 s Everything that enabled the turning of heads in light of such atrocities is still with us The everyday German wasn t a monster But monstrous things happened in their midst and for the most part they didn t rise up to stop it We do this still today, look the other way. Ugh, so, this took me forever to read But for context, I borrowed the paper book from the library about a week or two before the CoViD 19 pandemic shut down the library, and everything else It s been a hard time to read something with such weight And as that started to lift, the Black Lives Matter protests around the police killing of George Floyd erupted and the world got very heavy again I ve been wanting to read this book since it came out, and the extra extra long due date on this was ve Ugh, so, this took me forever to read But for context, I borrowed the paper book from the library about a week or two before the CoViD 19 pandemic shut down the library, and everything else It s been a hard time to read something with such weight And as that started to lift, the Black Lives Matter protests around the police killing of George Floyd erupted and the world got very heavy again I ve been wanting to read this book since it came out, and the extra extra long due date on this was very fortunate In any other circumstances I might not have ever gotten to finish it The book is a slow read anyway The first two thirds are oral history interviews with Jewish people and non Jewish Germans respectively about what they experienced during their lives in the Third Reich The interviews are divided up to represent different experiences, depending on when the Jewish subjects left Germany, or in the case of ordinary Germans, how much they knew about mass murder The final third is a summary of the surveys and interviews that the histories were selected from, and seeks to answerbroadly what Germans knew about terror, mass murder, anti Semitism, and support for the Nazi party I read only one or two accounts per day in the beginning I didn t want the Jewish survivor s accounts to run together Later in the book it was easier to read a littlein one go, but the text is still pretty heavy going, and not in any way a fun read But I did come out the other end with a sense of what people probably knew, and a better sense of how people live through war and dictatorship The idea that many people knew a lot but did nothing, perhaps because they didn t know what to do, but also because the terrible things didn t affect them directly, is very relevant to our current situation The last paragraph of the book, speaking of non Jewish Germans Many knew instinctively that the terror apparatus was not intent on punishing them so long as they broadly accepted and went along with National Socialism, which most did Difficult as it is to fathom, given most people s conception of dictatorship, most Germans appear to have led happy, productive, even normal lives in the Third Reich This indicates that a dictatorship can enjoy widespread popularity among the majority even while committing unspeakable crimes against minorities and others I have to wonder if some day people will be writing about race relations in the USA with this incredulity, that we white people could live happy, normal lives while the country system government commits unspeakable crimes against black, brown, and indigenous peoples, in this country and overseas {Free Book} á What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, And Everyday Life In Nazi Germany, An Oral History ⚸ The horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust still present some of the most disturbing questions in modern history Why did Hitler s party appeal to millions of Germans, and how entrenched was anti Semitism among the population How could anyone claim, after the war, that the genocide of Europe s Jews was a secret Did ordinary non Jewish Germans live in fear of the Nazi state In this unprecedented firsthand analysis of daily life as experienced in the Third Reich, What We Knew offers answers to these most important questions Combining the expertise of Eric A Johnson, an American historian, and Karl Heinz Reuband, a German sociologist, What We Knew is the most startling oral history yet of everyday life in theThird Reich Holy moly the text was small Which made it difficult to read While the material is interesting, a lot of the interviews didn t have a good flow to them and many of them were very clunky But the book is really well researched and does give a good view into what non Jewish people thought and knew.