What We Knew

Author(s): Eric W. Johnson


In this remarkable personal history Germans and German Jews now living around the world tell of their everyday experiences of life in 1930s and 1940s Germany. They describe their brushes with the Gestapo and other organs of terror, and what they knew at the time about the mass murder of German and other European Jews. What they say is horrifying, moving, and - even at this distance from the war - often surprising. Many have spoken with remarkable openness: a radio operator in the German Army who helped machine-gun 16,000 Jews from the ghetto in Pinsk; a reserve policeman who served as a concentration camp guard in Dachau; a small-time party functionary who guided train transports of French Jews into the death camps in Poland. Jews, many of them now in America, have spoken of their journeys by train to Auschwitz and elsewhere, the harassment they suffered in Nazi Germany, and sometimes of the support and friendship of ordinary German neighbours. Astonishingly, the vast majority of Germans listened frequently to illegal radio, and a number admit to knowing about the murder of Jews before the end of the Second World War. Even now, many confess that they admired Hitler and believed in the Nazi movement. It is essential that the reasons for such support are understood and remembered.


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'Hypnotic oral history ...This is not an enjoyable story but one that should be told'. -- Western Daily Press 20050217 'A necessary, careful and highly systematic addition to the Holocaust history, compiled by experts' -- Good Book Guide 20050301 'This is a splendid contribution to many of the questions asked by historians of the 21st century about daily life, complicity, and dissent in Germany between 1933 and 1945.' -- History Today 20050501 'Johnson and Reuband present an unique and important work of oral history' -- Publishing News 20050520 'Vast, truthful, compassionate and illuminating, the most comprehensive study of this kind ... a thorough and worthwhile investigation, substantially gleaned from the words of those who were the participants, observers, and survivors' -- Jewish Telegraph 'Horrifying and moving ... a major oral history of the Third Reich' -- Publishing News 'Fascinating ... The strength of What We Knew is its diversity, its vivid detail and extraordinary memories' -- Independent 'The gripping immediacy of the interviews, laced as they are with anger, guilt, sadness and, still among some Christian Germans, pride, carry the book' -- Publishers Weekly 'Makes hypnotic and uncomfortable reading' -- Western Daily Press 'Joltingly vivid testimonies open a shocking window on the mentality of the time' -- Scotsman

Eric A Johnson is a professor of German history at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton whose most recent book is The Nazi Terror: Gestapo, Jews and Ordinary Germans. Karl-Heinz Reuband is a professor at the Technical University of Dresden and an expert in public opinion research methods.

General Fields

  • : 9780719566349
  • : murray
  • : murray
  • : 0.68
  • : January 2005
  • : 232mm X 151mm X 35mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Eric W. Johnson
  • : Paperback
  • : Airside/Export ed
  • : 943.086
  • : 464