Savage Continent-Europe in the Aftermath of World War II by Keith Lowe is an excellent book and a ground breaking study of the years that followed the Second World War.
I have read a lot of books about the war and the concentrations camps and the violence and atrocities that took place in Europe at this time.
I had never actually read a book about the aftermath of the war although I had often wondered about this period in history.
The World War left Europe in chaos. Landscapes had been ravaged, entire cities razed and more that 35 million people killed. Across most of the continent the institutions that we now take for granted such as the police and the media, transport, national government were either absent or hopelessly compromised. Crime rates soared, economies collapsed and the European population hovered on the brink of starvation.
This book is divided into 4 sections dealing with The Legacy of War , Vengeance, Ethnic Cleansing and Civil War.
Most of us have the impression that the end of the War meant the end of the killing and suffering. But the truth is the killing and suffering went on and on. What followed the end of the war was as bad as much of what happened during it and continued for almost 10 years. And those responsible were not heartless Nazis; in many cases they were the good guys, the victorious Allies.
In the immediate aftermath, the cruelty, even savagery, of what was perpetrated not only on surviving German soldiers but on civilians and on collaborators in various countries which had been occupied was shocking. I was really shocked at how women in particular, suffered dreadfully in the aftermath of the war.
This is certainly a thougrouglhly researched book and Keith Lowe really paints the facts very Cleary and documents his sources at the end of the book. Lowe does not take sides in this painful story but tries to get the facts and the information to the reader in every chapter and I really think he succeded in his task.
This is not the easiest of reads but it is certainly an education and I learned so much that I found myself jotting notes down as I read this book.