Monday, October 24, 2011

Five best books on the origins of World War II

Richard Overy's books include 1939: Countdown to War.

One of his five best books on the beginnings of World War II, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Hitler Strikes Poland
by Alexander Rossino (2003)

Alexander Rossino's grim account of the German invasion of Poland and of the horrors perpetrated almost immediately by the German armed forces and security units shows how fully Hitler's war, even in its earliest days in 1939, differed from previous European wars. Brutal ethnic tension in the Polish-German borderlands created a febrile atmosphere in the months before the war. Poles reacted to German invasion by perpetrating atrocities of their own against Polish Germans, and the German invaders were no less savage. Rossino offers a detailed, blow-by-blow account of how resentful German nationalism was used to justify the slaughter of Polish intellectuals, the Polish national elite and Polish Jews, well before the death camps were established. Much of the work was done by Hitler's Einsatzgruppen, security squads assigned not to fight but to murder suspected enemies of the new German Reich. Within days of the invasion, the Germans were already engaged in what came to be known in 1945 as crimes against humanity.
Read about another book on Overy's list.

--Marshal Zeringue