Winzig, Germany, 1933-1946: The History of a Town under the Third Reich

Winzig, Germany, 1933-1946: The History of a Town under the Third Reich

Winzig, Germany, 1933-1946: The History of a Town under the Third Reich

Winzig, Germany, 1933-1946: The History of a Town under the Third Reich

Synopsis

This history of Winzig challenges the often-held view that Germany under Hitler resembled one vast concentration camp. Except for the Jews, the townspeople lived much as they had before 1933. A few Winzigers profited and a few suffered as a result of the Nazi regime, while most continued their nonpolitical daily lives. Only World War II itself effected serious changes. Winzig was a microcosm of Germany in that only a minority supported Hitler, and yet in twelve years no strong anti-Nazi movement developed. Botwinick's book constitutes an indictment against silent majorities everywhere.

Excerpt

Winzig, Germany, 1933-1946, is an account of events that occurred in an obscure little German town located in southeastern Prussia in a region that for hundreds of years has been known as Silesia. In the geographic sense, the town survived. A Polish village called Winsco is located on that same hill east of the Odra (Oder) River in western Poland where Winzig had stood for half a millennium. Some of the old buildings still remain; very little has been added in the past forty-five years. But if a town's life is judged by the character of its inhabitants, Winzig no longer exists. Its ancient German roots have been pulled up. This is the chronicle of how that happened.

Allowing for the uniqueness of every community, Winzig presents a microcosm of the convulsive Nazi era. Only in the memories of those who lost their homes was Winzig ever an idyllic place. Its people were quite typical of those living in most small towns: gossipy, petty, class conscious, conservative, patriotic, and hardworking. When Hitler came to power, Winzig produced its quota of heroes, villains, and bystanders.

Even a town as small as Winzig cannot be abstracted in all its facets. This record utilizes several families as representatives of the community: Nazis and anti-Nazis; Jews and Gentiles; Catholics and Protestants; farmers, merchants, and professionals. It is a portrait that includes a glimpse of a gamut of personalities: the blindly devout followers of Nazi ideology, the opportunists seeking economic advancement, the few active opponents to the regime, as well a sampling from the largest . . .

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