What We Knew is the outcome of the first scientific study attempted in
Many of the Jews interviewed survived only because they emigrated in the late 1930s. Others went "underground", hiding in cities such as
Were the Germans mindless? No. The majority of Germans polled admitted to listening to foreign broadcasts "frequently", even though this carried the death penalty or could land one a spell in a concentration camp. About half further admitted to knowing about the Holocaust before the end of the war, saying they heard about it from friends or family on leave from the front, from Gestapo officers and Nazi officials, the BBC, from church leaders. "Large numbers of Jews and non-Jews in Nazi Germany eventually came to know quite a lot about the Holocaust during the course of World War II," write the authors. "Since they were the primary victims of it, Jews generally tried harder to find out about it and usually did, but not always before they were deported to the places where it was being carried out. Since people with their background were the prime perpetrators of it, none-Jews did not necessarily seek out news about the mass murder. Nevertheless, after
Another interesting finding was that even now, many confess an abiding admiration for Hitler and a belief in the virtues of Nazism. "We had this image of him feeding a little deer and being seen with his Blondie, his German shepherd dog," says "Hubert Lutz", born in 1928, the son of a mid-level Nazi. "And you saw him breaking ground for the Autobahn, shovelling dirt and so on. He had the image of a saviour… He was idolised to the point that when I was eight years old I asked myself, ‘What happens if he dies? He does everything.`" Rolf Heberer recalls the hyper-inflation of the 1920s: "You have to understand the people. They were from another time than today. First they experienced this unemployment. Nobody had anything. Everything was expensive. And suddenly everything was different. The sun was shining for everybody. Okay, there were some who were completely against the regime and they were locked up… but, for the common masses, let`s say for 60 million Germans, that was what the people really wanted."
Another little-known aspect of Holocaust history is the Gestapo`s use of Jewish collaborators, so called "U-boat hunters" to ferret out fellow Jews who had gone underground (or had disappeared underwater like a U-boat). Most notorious among these was a beauty called Stella Kübler, born Goldschlag, who betrayed Jews from 1943 to March 1945, when the Soviets were just outside the city. (Click through to the Wikipedia to read more about "Blonde Poison" as her Gestapo handlers called her.
As an aside, the issue comes up in the 2006 film The Good German, where the female protagonist in the final scene admits to having survived the war by betraying 12 fellow Jews.
One oversight the reviewer regrets is the exclusion of any material regarding
What We Knew
Terror, Mass Murder and Everyday Life in Nazi
Eric A Johnson, Karl-Heinz Reuband
John Murray Publishers
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