Bloodlands Chapters 6-11: A Hidden History

Bloodlands Chapters 6-11

In the second half of Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder, the author reveals the secret history that was so long hidden by the iron curtain across Europe regarding what took place in Eastern Europe following WWII. One interesting point that Snyder pointed out was that the first people to discover the mass killings perpetrated by Stalin, that had been kept hidden from the rest of the world, were the Germans that moved into the Soviet Union during WWII. As a result, the Germans twisted this information to use as propaganda that would help the Nazis. It took a long time before the truth about Stalin’s rule was revealed. In the same way, the author notes that the history of the bloodlands, where Hitler and Stalin killed so many people, was the background to other main events in WWII history. This book was written to uncover that history. I find that the author’s purpose for writing this book is very noble in the cause of preserving all history.

Snyder was able to connect major events on the timeline of WWII with things that are often overlooked. For example, while Japan was bombing Pearl Harbor, the Germans were freezing in the Soviet Union. It was interesting to consider how the Soviets and Germans used these major events to cover up their own atrocities and to hide their intentions to mass murder. A common fact about the Soviet Union is that information was kept from citizens and propaganda was the only thing provided about what was going on in the world. Snyder showed what kind of lies that Stalin was feeding to his people. There was a lot of events discussed in this book that I had never learned about.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it provided a perspective on WWII history in Eastern Europe that I had never read about before. The comparison between Hitler and Stalin’s political agendas and how they dealt with opposition was a refreshing look at history. Also, I learned things about resistance to the Holocaust that I never even knew took place. The Warsaw Uprising and the Home Army’s actions in protecting people from being taken by the Nazis, and the interplay by Soviet soldiers is something that should be talked about a lot more when discussing the Holocaust. The brave people who tried their best to stand up for themselves and others should be remembered. What surprised me most about this book is that the main person making the decisions and relaying orders to exterminate people and quiet uprisings was Himmler- not Hitler. Himmler’s name came up so many times throughout this book, and I feel like his role in genocide should be more emphasized so that he does not escape blame. I also think that the United States should incorporate more of the topics brought up by Snyder in this book into the teaching of WWII history, including its indifference many times to the struggles of Jews and other groups in Europe.

Questions:
1. Himmler’s name seemed to surface more than Hitler’s throughout this book, and he seemed to be making more of the decisions. Should his role be more emphasized in history in order to ensure he does not escape from any blame?
2. How did Germany’s plan to resettle Jews transform into a plan to exterminate them?
3. Why did Poland kill so many German citizens and treat them with brutality after what its own citizens experienced?
4. Why are most of the topics within this book not included in American history lessons about WWII?

 

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