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ANATOMY OF GENOCIDE

Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields - Wendy Lower

This book goes a long way toward elucidating the role a number of German women played as "agents of death" in the Nazi Holocaust.

Before coming to this book, I had thought that the only German women who had willingly taken part in killing Jews and other peoples regarded as "undesirables" by the Nazis were the SS auxiliaries in the concentration camps like Ravensbruck and Bergen Belsen, who acquired a reputation for brutality. But in "Hitler's Furies", the reader learns that there were also German women working in areas as diverse as nursing, teaching, and secretarial work in the East following both the conquest of Poland and Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union who were witnesses to the killings of Jews. Indeed, some, such as Erna Petri and Gertrude Segel, crossed the line and gladly engaged in murder on several occasions.

What is remarkable about this story is how the role of these murderous women in the service of the Third Reich was largely hidden or ignored for close to 70 years after the Second World War. The author explains why this was allowed to happen and endeavors to inform and educate the reader about the role of women in the Third Reich, the Nazis' attitudes about women, and the postwar lives of the women who had chosen to kill in support of the Hitler regime. I'm glad to have read this book, for it gives the reader an added insight into how the Holocaust made some women willing executioners of the Final Solution.