This fascinating and absorbing new book, drawing on original Gestapo files, provides a wide range of vivid and fascinating stories that explore the tragic human plight of victims of Nazi terror, and the motives of the German citizens who denounced them. By examining in depth how the Gestapo dealt with Jews, Communists, religious dissidents and those on the margins of society, McDonough has produced a brilliant, readable and deeply significant examination of Hitler's notorious secret police.
A compelling and crisply written new history of the Third Reich's central instrument on domestic terror between 1933 and 1945. McDonough moves beyond the administrative history of the Gestapo to examine the key target groups not just political and religious opponents, but social outsiders and Jews He provides a nuanced account via Gestapo files and courtroom testimony. In setting a range of victims' life stories revealed in these neglected Gestapo case files against long standing historical views of either an all pervasive surveillance or total reliance on public denunciations, The Gestapo provides an original and welcome perspective on this often misunderstood symbol of Nazi repression and enforced conformity. Impressive, illuminated by real victim stories, this book is strongly recommended.
In this thoroughly researched and elegantly written book, Frank McDonough confronts decades of myth-making to uncover the complex realities of Hitler's notorious secret police. The Gestapo is as surprising as it is illuminating, and it sets a new standard for this vitally important subject.
Superbly scholarly and just as readable. A chilling, meticulous record of state brutality that is more compelling than any novel.
Professor Frank McDonough has unearthed much, drawn from recent research and his own work in the Gestapo's surviving archives and has blended it in this lucid, authoratative study of the institution and its servants. As for those servants' villiany, he lets them and their victims speak for themselves: this is a chilling as well as a compelling read...In telling the story of the how the Gestapo worked, McDonough has provided fascinating insights into the experiences of Germans in a fickle and frightening world.
It seems incredible that humane qualities could be exhumed from such evil, but that is one achievement of Frank McDonough's nuanced study...The contribution of McDonough's illuminating account - based on the 73,000 files at Düsseldorf, the largest surviving collection of Gestapo records - is to reveal that the organisation was neither faceless nor monolithic....Too often historians present material of this vile kind in emotive prose, forcing the reader into uneasy agreement with whatever argument they are presenting. Here, by combining a calm tone with a lucid, factual approach, McDonough has convincingly portrayed a system that was highly efficient and profoundly pernicious, but not unequivocally wicked.
A myth-busting study exposes how ordinary Germans ran rings round the secret police...[McDonough] offers real insight into the methods, motives and backgrounds of the men who tried... to police the thoughts of the inhabitants of the Third Reich...Another remarkable point that McDonough makes is that judges often threw out cases brought by the Gestapo. Many were old-fashioned conservatives... with a prickly sense of their own independence.
McDonough's penetrating study of the Gestapo, which challenges established myths- for instance that the Gestapo was everywhere, an Orwellian 'thought police' that kept everyone in check and fear, listening for every knock on the door in the middle of the night. In reality, it had fewer than 16,000 active officers to police the loyalty of a nation of 70 million. Its investigations were fuelled by informants, tell-tales in the community, of whom there were no shortage in Hitler's paranoid Reich... McDonough's book also reveals, thousands of other Nazi thugs and killers simply kept their heads down, slid back into society and were never properly brought to book. At the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the Gestapo was branded a 'criminal organisation' responsible or 'crimes against humanity. Yet no major collective Gestapo trial was held in the post war period.
This year has produced a slew of important books relating to the Second World War and this informative study of the Gestapo is one of the best. The author tries to dismantle some of the common myths about Hitler's secret police. He does so with style and intelligence
McDonough has an instinct for good stories and, for example, when he writes about the policing process aimed at the outlawed Communist Party, he finds a bewildering array of people, among them some who converted to Nazism or joined the Wehrmacht.
A very important and rigorous study based on original research from German archives.
Highly illuminating. It sets the Gestapo in historical context. McDonough also gives a detailed account of the Gestapo's day to operations and assists us in our efforts to understand the work done by the Gestapo.