This year, I’ve either revisited or come across several good books on this subject. They make heartbreaking reading that can leave one wide awake at night. But they show what people can do if given the merest of ideological justification, which makes them compulsory reading – at least for me.
Herewith the titles:
After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied occupation by Giles MacDonogh
From the GULAG to the Killing Fields, edited by Paul Hollander
No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1959-1945, by Norman Davies
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, by Timothy Snyder
Gulag: A History, by Anne Applebaum
Of course, there’s always Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago (the unabridged version) which not only documents day-to-day life in the Gulag but the philosophy that had created it and maintained it. There are also Tommy Mandl’s autobiographical novels, Die Wette des Philosophen (The Philosopher’s Wager), and Durst, Musik, Geheime Dienste (Thirst, Music, Secret Services) that have only been published in German. (However, for the discerning American reader, I had translated them both into English, and I have the translations in digital format…)
The sad thing is people haven’t changed much at all. Only democracy, imperfect as it is, has managed to keep our immanent evil in some kind of check; and the danger to democracy today is as great as it was in the ‘Thirties.