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About the book
  • Published: 3 October 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448113453
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Hitler's Furies

German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields




A shocking new history of the role of German women in the Holocaust, not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but as actual killers on the Eastern Front

A shocking and timely reminder of the role Nazi women played in the Holocaust, not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but on the Eastern Front.

History has it that the role of women in Nazi Germany was to be the perfect Hausfrau and a loyal cheerleader for the Führer. However, Lower’s research reveals an altogether more sinister truth.

Lower shows us the ordinary women who became perpetrators of genocide. Drawing on decades of research, she uncovers a truth that has been in the shadows – that women too were brutal killers and that, in ignoring women’s culpability, we have ignored the reality of the Holocaust.

‘Shocking’ Sunday Times
‘Compelling’ Washington Post
‘Pioneering’ Literary Review

  • Pub date: 3 October 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448113453
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the Author

Wendy Lower

Wendy Lower is the John K. Roth Chair of History at Claremont McKenna College and former research associate of the Ludwig- Maximillians-Universitat in Munich. A historical consultant for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, she has conducted archival research and field work on the Holocaust for twenty years. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, CA, and Munich, Germany. Hitler's Furies was a finalist for the US National Jewish Book Award.


Praise for Hitler's Furies

“Hitler’s Furies will be experienced and remembered as a turning point in both women’s studies and Holocaust studies”

Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands

“As pioneering as it is readable”

Literary Review

“She writes engagingly, wears her considerable erudition lightly…never allowing her analysis to outweigh the fundamental humanity of the stories”

New Statesman

“As gripping and eye-opening as it is chilling”

Andrea Walker, People

“Hitler's Furies turns on its head the idea that women are innately more nurturing, kind and moral than men... While the accepted wisdom on female participation in the Holocaust singles out the sadistic behaviour of a few women guards in the concentration camps, such behaviour is usually contrasted with the myth of German female ignorance of the horrors. A veil has largely been drawn over the actions of the rest. Not any more”

Eleanor Mills, Sunday Times (News Review)

“Until now it has been imagined that the Holocaust was perpetrated mainly by men and that female involvement was marginal. However, Ms Lower's research contradicts this.”

Jewish Chronicle

“Disquieting... Earlier books about the Holocaust have offered up poster girls of brutality and atrocity... Ms Lower's revisionist insight is to track more mundane lives, and to argue for a vastly wider complicity”

Dwight Garner, New York Times

“Through a combination of archive material and interviews, the historian Wendy Lower has unearthed evidence of women who witnessed and even perpetrated atrocities in the Third Reich's eastern-most territories, where most of the murders took place... her stark, often harrowing book is a valuable addition to Holocaust studies”

Ian Critchley, Sunday Times

“Until now it has been imagined that the Holocaust was perpetrated mainly by men and that female involvement was marginal. However, Ms Lower's research contradicts this.”

Jewish Chronicle

“Hitler’s Furies will be experienced and remembered as a turning point in both women’s studies and Holocaust studies”

Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands

“Holocaust historian Professor Wendy Lower has unearthed the complicity of tens of thousands of German women – many more than previously imagined in the sort of mass, monstrous, murderous activities that we would like to think the so-called gentler sex were incapable of”

Tony Rennell, Daily Mail Ireland

“Wendy Lower's book interweaves the experiences of 13 ordinary women who went to work in the East... for some of these women, violence and murder became part of a rich brew of new-found power... Lower argues, they collectively show the role of women in the Holocaust has been underplayed; obscured by their later stereotypes as heroic 'rubble women' clearing up the mess of Germany's past, victims of Red Army rapists, or flirtatious dolls who entertaned American GIs”

Ben Shephard, Observer (New Review)

“The Nazi regime is synonymous with men. The horrors of the Holocaust were, in the main, perpetrated by males. But there were tens of thousands of German women who took part in the Nazis' monstrous and murderous activities on the Eastern Front. The stories are told in Wendy Lower's new book”

Jewish Telegraph

“builds a picture of a morally lost generation of young women, born into a defeated, post-WW1 Germany, and swept up in the fervour of the Nazi movement”

Sunday Telegraph

“Lower shifts away from the narrow focus on the few thousand female concentration camp guards who have been at the center of previous studies of female culpability in Nazi crimes and identifies the cluster of professions—nurses, social workers, teachers, office workers—that in addition to family connections brought nearly one-half million women to the German East and into close proximity with pervasive Nazi atrocities. Through the lives of carefully researched individuals, she captures a spectrum of career trajectories and behavior. This is a book that artfully combines the study of gender with the illumination of individual experience.”

Christopher R. Browning, author of Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

“Hitler’s Furies is a long overdue and superb addition to the history of the Holocaust. The role of women perpetrators during the Final Solution has been too much glossed over. Wendy Lower’s book provides an important and stunning corrective. It is a significant addition to our understanding of the role of ordinary Germans in the Reich’s genocide.”

Deborah Lipstadt, author of The Eichmann Trial

“Hitler's Furies is the first book to follow the biographical trajectories of individual women whose youthful exuberance, loyalty to the Führer, ambition, and racism took them to the deadliest sites in German-occupied Europe. Drawing on immensely rich source material, Wendy Lower integrates women perpetrators and accomplices into the social history of the Third Reich, and illuminates them indelibly as a part of post-war East and West German memory that has been, until this book, unmined”

Claudia Koonz, author of Mothers in the Fatherland

“Stomach-churning”

Illtyd Harrington, West End Extra

“Compelling... Lower's careful research proves that the capacity for indifferent cruelty is not reserved for men – it exists in all of us”

Renae Merle, Washington Post

“Lower’s impressive analysis is a painful but transfixing read”

Christopher Hirst, Independent


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