SOLDIERS OF EVIL: The Commanders of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Tom Segev

SOLDIERS OF EVIL: The Commanders of the Nazi Concentration Camps

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A best-seller in Israel, this study--by a writer for the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz--is a compilation of information gathered from assorted documents and from interviews with the few Nazi commanders still living, as well as the widows, children, relatives, and acquaintances of those commanders who have died or been executed. Segev's research is impressive, and the his organizational skills equal to the monumental task. He is most successful when he discusses the internal workings of the S.S., a group from which the commanders were drawn and which viewed itself as an elite within the Nazi military. In telling detail, the author describes the structure of the corps with its dichotomous blending of pragmatism and dogmatism, brutality and sentimentality, puritanism and eroticism. He is also effective in sorting out the details of the establishment and growth of the camps themselves. Originally purported to be ""rehabilitation centers"" in which dissidents were ""re-educated,"" the camps were soon transformed into death factories in which racial, religious, sexual, and social ""undesirables"" were eliminated. When Segev turns his attention to the stories of the commanders themselves, however, a certain, probably unavoidable repetitiousness creeps into his work. The details of these lives, as might be expected, are similar, including, as almost all of them do, dissatisfaction with the post-WW I and economy, a belief in the National Socialist credo of Aryan superiority, and a background in which authoritarian figures such as parents were to be unquestioned. Overall, a skillfully presented and chilling look at one of history's most bloodcurdling events.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1988
Publisher: McGraw-Hill