Book Review: Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany


by Frederick Taylor

London / New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2011. Pp. xxxviii, 438. Illus., notes, biblio., index. $30.00. ISBN: 596915366

A well crafted survey of the first two years of the Allied occupation of the defeated and prostrate Germany.

Fredrick Taylor, author of Dresden, TheBerlin Wall, and other works on modern German history, addresses the problems the occupying powers encountered in the immediate aftermath of the most devastating defeat ever suffered by a modern nation.  While he covers all four powers, the emphasis is on the two Anglo-Saxon nations.  He does an excellent job of describing the conflicts between unrealistic wartime policy ideas [notably the “Morgenthau Plan” for turning Germany into an agricultural backwater and the somewhat less drastic JCS 1067] and the on-the-ground realities of trying to govern a starving nation whose capital stock had been mostly bombed flat. 

Taylor gives the reader quiet good account of the Werwolf resistance movement, which, while not as effective as the Nazis had hoped was more active than most histories suggest.  He also dissects of the absurdities of the de-Nazification process, noting that the Western allies cast far too wide a net, so that the process drowned in paperwork about very small fish, while serious war criminals frequently got off.  Taylor wisely avoids getting bogged down in the emerging Cold War.  Instead he gives us an excellent synthesis of how the ill-starred and ad hoc occupation evolved into what became West Germany over the period 1945-1947.

Exorcising Hitler is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the Second World War in Europe and might have been of immense value to the planners of some more recent post-war occupations.


Note: Exorcising Hitler is also available in paperback at $20,00, ISBN 1608195031


Our Reviewer:  Scott Palter graduated from Dartmouth and Stanford Law.  A veteran war gamer, one of the old SPI play testers, he is also a game developer and was founder and publisher of West End Games.  His most recent reviews for StrategyPageincludeForgotten Land: Journeys Among the Ghosts of East Prussia,Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War, Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, Normandy Crucible: The Decisive Battle that Shaped World War II in Europe, and The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.



Reviewer: Scott Palter   

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