Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 22 Aug 2018
In May 1945, rifles and artillery pieces were silenced for the most part. But fighting and turmoil would continue, and thousands of Europeans would continue to die even though political leaders proclaimed that the war had ended. In Greece and Yugoslavia, fighting continued in the forms of savage civil wars. In Poland and Ukraine, ethnic cleansing continued. In Germany, occupation troops continued to loot and pillage, both with goods and with women. In France and Belgium, neighbors turned on one another with accusations of collaboration as means to settle petty disputes. All across Europe, whether due to politics, racism, or greed, the fact was that peace was not achieved simply with the final collapse of Germany. Keith Lowe's Savage Continent dealt with this topic on a continental scale. In haunting narratives, he brought forth the common folks' struggle in spite of the rosy propaganda published by their governments, regardless of country, and regardless of which side of the Iron Curtain these governments ruled. He hovered between high level statistics to provide a sense of the large scale of suffering and the stories of the individuals who suffered or committed post-war atrocities, effectively advancing toward his goal of debunking the myths established by the victors.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. John Lee did a great job with this reading, just as he had with his other work with WW2 related titles that I had previously enjoyed.
Europe had always, with arrogance or perhaps due to other reasons, touted itself as the shining example of human civilization, but the suffering in the years following WW2 would certainly place doubt in such claims. Savage Continent did a wonderful job detailing the horrors of post-war Europe, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to all WW2DB visitors.
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