Hitler's Collaborators

Hitler's Collaborators

Philip Morgan
ARRSE Rating
3.5 Mushroom Heads
Hitler’s Collaborators

Written by Philip Morgan, this book details the methodology, apparatus and legacy of collaboration in occupied Europe. The author has previously written several books on the growth of European Fascism, mainly concentrating on Italy. Rather than covering ground most interested readers will be familiar with by concentrating on overt collaborationists who were spurred on by their own Fascist beliefs (for example Quisling in Norway), Morgan spends most of the book investigating the records and experiences of businessmen and civil servants who were generally in a position where it was difficult not to collaborate.

This is a fascinating area of history which I have not previously considered in depth, and as such I was engrossed in the detail provided in this book (of which there is a fair amount). The first chapter relates the events following occupation; how various levels of collaboration were rationalised in different countries, and how the necessary mythologies of resistance took root and coloured the treatment of collaborators.

Considering the position of most people in occupied Europe once their countries had been defeated, it’s difficult to not feel at least some sympathy for those who had little choice. The chapters on the economics of occupation, and the invidious position of many civil servants are particularly enlightening. The depiction of the deportation of large tranches of forced labour from the occupied territories to Germany is less nuanced, and I found this subject to be only lightly examined here. The author returns to more familiar and starkly moral grounds when he looks at deportation of Jews; the level of both individual and corporate collaboration in facilitating the Holocaust varies wildly between countries, to the shame of some and the pride of others.

Sadly I found the author gratingly smug in the extreme at certain points; his habit of finishing each chapter as if it’s a sixth former’s essay with a summary paragraph of trite moralising was causing me to grit my teeth by the end of the book. However if you can stomach his style there is much to learn from this book. I found the author’s conclusion to be somewhat unfair in my opinion; but that may be a personal bias. Hitler’s Collaborators is a Hardback volume priced at £20, with a dozen well selected black and white photographs. A useful if occasionally irritating inclusion to any historically minded reader’s library.
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