Wendy Lower's stunning account of the role of ordinary German women on the Nazi eastern front powerfully revises history. The long-held picture of German women holding down the homefront during the war, as loyal wives and cheerleaders for the Fuhrer, pales in comparison to Lower's incisive case for the massive complicity, and worse, of the 500,000 young German women directly on the genocidal war zone of the expanding Reich. Lower builds a fascinating and convincing picture of a morally lost generation of young women, born into a defeated, tumultuous post-WWI Germany, and then swept up in the nationalistic fervor of the Nazi movement.
These young women - nurses, teachers, secretaries, wives, and lovers - saw the emerging Nazi empire as a kind of wild east of career and matrimonial opportunity - and yet surely could not have imagined what they would witness and do there. Lower, drawing on twenty years of archival and field work on the Holocaust, access to post - Soviet documents, and interviews with German witnesses, presents overwhelming evidence that these women were more than 'desk murderers' or comforters of murderous German men: that they went on 'shopping sprees' and romantic outings to the Jewish ghettos of Poland, Ukraine, and Belarus; that they were present at killing-field picnics, not only providing refreshment but also taking their turn at the shooting of Jews; that their brutality was as chilling as any in history. Hitler's Furies is indelible proof that we have not known what we need to know about the role of women on the Nazi killing fields of the eastern front - or about how it could have been hidden for seventy years.