Title: Terror in the Balkans
Publisher: Harvard University Press Apr 2012
Publication Date: 2012
Book Condition: Neu
Neuware - Germany's 1941 seizure of Yugoslavia led to a bloody insurgency, and the Wehrmacht waged a brutal campaign in response--massive reprisal shootings, destruction of entire villages, and huge mobile operations against civilians. Terror in the Balkans explores the reasons behind Germany's extreme security measures in southern and eastern Europe. 342 pp. Englisch. Bookseller Inventory # 9780674048911
Synopsis: Germany's 1941 seizure of Yugoslavia led to an insurgency as bloody as any in World War II. The Wehrmacht waged a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in response, and by 1943 German troops in Yugoslavia were engaged in operations that ranked among the largest of the entire European war. Their actions encompassed massive reprisal shootings, the destruction of entire villages, and huge mobile operations unleashed not just against insurgents but also against the civilian population believed to be aiding them. "Terror in the Balkans" explores the reasons behind the Wehrmacht's extreme security measures in southern and eastern Europe. Ben Shepherd focuses his study not on the high-ranking generals who oversaw the campaign but on lower-level units and their officers, a disproportionate number of whom were of Austrian origin. He uses Austro-Hungarian army records to consider how the personal experiences of many Austrian officers during the Great War played a role in brutalizing their behavior in Yugoslavia. A comparison of Wehrmacht counter-insurgency divisions allows Shepherd to analyze how a range of midlevel commanders and their units conducted themselves in different parts of Yugoslavia, and why. Shepherd concludes that the Wehrmacht campaign's violence was driven not just by National Socialist ideology but also by experience of the fratricidal infighting of Yugoslavia's ethnic groups, by conditions on the ground, and by doctrines that had shaped the military mindsets of both Germany and Austria since the late nineteenth century. He also considers why different Wehrmacht units exhibited different degrees of ruthlessness and restraint during the campaign.
Review: Shepherd's book is important for a number of reasons. The first and most basic one is the fact that it gives an additional historical dimension to studies about the war on the Balkan front which has not been granted the same generous attention by scholarly research as have other war theaters. Another aspect that Shepherd raises is that an analysis of the murderous manifestation of Nazi ideology is based on principles that had already been formulated at the end of the nineteenth century and were applied in the test case of the Balkan arena...Shepherd's careful and precise research proves that the Wehrmacht was a partner in the war crimes that Germany executed during the course of the war...His book has the ability as well to cast light on the cultural background for the war crimes and racial murder carried out during the 1990s after the breakup of Yugoslavia. -- Tal Tovy H-Net Reviews 20120801
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