- Published: November 19, 2022
- Updated: November 19, 2022
- University / College: King's College London
- Level: High School
- Language: English
- Downloads: 14
Book Review Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, a book by Timothy Snyder, describes the mass killing of about 14 million people between 1933 and 1945 by Joseph Stalin’s and Adolf Hitler’s regimes (Snyder 2). The killings took place in the present-day region that comprises the Baltic States, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. In the book, the writer identifies three distinct phases that hold the plot together. They are the deliberate shootings and starvation of masses between 1933 and 1938 in the Soviet Union; the shooting of masses between 1939 and 1941 in Poland by both German and Soviet killers; and, from 1941 to 1945, deliberately starving Soviet war prisoners numbering over three million and gassing of Jews, who numbered more than five million, by Germans. The three phases also give the book a flowing structure whereby the reader understands how the regions of Eastern Europe were trapped between parallel totalitarian objectives. The writer concentrates on the area that turned into a horrific experimental site to establish competing political utopias that were founded on race or class wars. Stalin’s version was to control the peasantry, which was the Soviet Union’s prevalent social group. For Hitler, it meant creating a racial supremacy and executing the politically active, clergy and educated among the Polish Jews.
In a uniquely fresh manner, the writer presents a reading that goes against the conventional simplistic version of perceiving the Soviets as the “ good” and the Nazis as the “ bad”. The book also does not conform to other literatures that portray the deaths of the two regimes as having taken place in World War II. An account of the Holocaust, which many Americans unfamiliar with the beginning of World War II might not be aware of, is recounted in the book. The writer claims that the best interpretation of the Holocaust is as a consequence of the Soviet and Nazi regimes’ interaction in the geographical region he refers to as the “ Bloodlands” (Snyder 380). However, this claim can be criticized in view of the fact that the geographical region, even the name, comes through as forced and the writer disregards the aspects that do not fit in so as to make his case. Although the writer has listed incidents of killings that took place in the “ Bloodlands”, he does not explicitly itemize how there were any interactions between Stalin’s and Hitler’s regimes. Furthermore, apart from the ideology of the agrarian utopia, the writer disregards all other Nazi ideologies and the executions of Western-Europe Jews and the so-called “ euthanasia program” that was related to the Holocaust.
In conclusion, the book generally provides a basic and comprehensible summary for readers with little understanding of the Soviet history and the Holocaust. Many reviews have commented that the book adds new understanding to the Holocaust with examples like people were not killed in concentration camps but rather, Eastern Europe; that the Soviet Union also bears responsibility for mass murders; and the Wehrmacht are suspected of complicity in the Holocaust. However, and unfortunately, these are all well-known facts that have been written before and appeared in scholarly materials. Therefore, although the writer exhibits an eloquent and comprehensive writing style, the book cannot claim 100 percent originality on the facts that, ironically, seem to have given it its name.
Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books, 2010. Print.
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