Marching into Darkness examines the issue of the complicity of the German Army (Wehrmacht) in the Holocaust. I focus on five case studies centered in what is now Belarus to explore what complicity actually looked like, from coordination to expropriation of property to sexual violence to participation in mass shootings. I am honored that it has also been translated into Polish.
"Superb ... a classic of Holocaust scholarship."
“With a level of detail that is chilling to the bone, Beorn demonstrates that during the first phase of the war with the Soviet Union, a time when Germans were euphoric about their results on the front, every single Wehrmacht unit in Belarus contained a core group of men who could be counted on to murder Jews. Marching into Darkness convincingly shows how and why these atrocities could occur. A major contribution.”
- Karel C. Berkhoff, author of Motherland in Danger: Soviet Propaganda during World War II
“Beorn’s meticulously researched work confronts us with Nazi crimes, up close, as they happened. It allows us to see the choices that were available to the perpetrators, and the process by which many ordinary German soldiers gradually turned into willing criminals. In this way, it helps us to understand how such crimes were possible.”
-Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941
The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: At the Epicenter of the Final Solution
(Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)
The Holocaust in Eastern Europe is a broadly written history of the Holocaust focused on the Eastern experience. To my surprise, it seems to be the only book targeted for the student, general audience, and junior scholar focused solely on this critically important area of Holocaust history.
From the press: "It provides a comprehensive history of the Holocaust in the region that was the central location of the event itself while including material often overlooked in general Holocaust history texts.
First introducing Jewish life as it was lived before the Nazis in Eastern Europe, the book chronologically surveys the development of Nazi policies in the area over the period from 1939 to 1945. This book provides an overview of both the German imagination and obsession with the East and its impact on the Nazi genocidal project there. It also covers the important period of Soviet occupation and its effects on the unfolding of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. This text also treats in detail other themes such as ghettoization, the Final Solution, rescue, collaboration, resistance, and many others. Throughout, Beorn includes detailed examples of the similarities and differences of the nature of the Holocaust in various regions, in the words of perpetrators, witnesses, collaborators, and victims/survivors.
Beorn also illustrates the complex nature of the Holocaust by discussing the difficult subjects of collaboration, sexual violence, the use of slave labour, treatment of Soviet POWs, profiteering and others within a larger narrative framework. He also explores key topics like Jewish resistance, Jewish councils, memory, and explanations for perpetration, collaboration, and rescue. The book includes images and maps to orient the reader to the topic area."
“In recent years the focus of Holocaust historians has shifted eastwards. In this accessible and cutting-edge book which neatly synthesises this research, Waitman Beorn explains why Eastern Europe was indeed "the epicentre of the Final Solution". A very valuable resource for all students and scholars of the Nazi genocide of the Jews.” – Dan Stone, author of The Holocaust and Historical Methodology, Concentration Camps: A Short History, The Historiography of Genocide and co-editor of the Journal of Genocide Research
This book is " “first-rate." Dr. Beorn has “certainly broken new ground in a text that I expect will be widely read and assigned for classes.” It is a “…a very nourishing and well-informed discussion.”
Between the Wires: The Janowska Camp and the Holocaust in Lviv
Scholarly Journal Articles
“Last Stop in Lwów: Janowska as a Hybrid Camp,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol 32, Nr. 3, Winter 2018, pp. 445-471
“New Paths, New Directions: Reflections on 40 Years of Holocaust Studies and the GSA,” German Studies Review, vol. 39, Nr. 3, October 2016, pp. 589-599
"Perpetrators, Presidents, and Profiteers: Teaching Genocide Prevention and Response through Classroom Simulation, " Special Issue: Mass Atrocity Prevention, Politics and Governance 3, no. 4 (2015): 72-83
“Genocide in a Small Place: Wehrmacht Complicity in Killing the Jews of Krupki, 1941”
Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, Vol.16, No.1-2, Summer/Autumn 2010, pp.97-128
“A Calculus of Complicity: The Wehrmacht, the Anti-Partisan War, and the Final Solution in White Russia, 1941-42,” Central European History, Vol. 44, Nr. 2, June 2011, pp. 308-337.
“Geographies of the Holocaust” (jointly with Tim Cole, Simone Gigliotti, Alberto Giordano, Anna Holian, Paul Jaskot, Anne Knowles, Marc Masurovsky, and Erik Steiner), The Geographical Review, vol. 99, Nr. 4, October 2009
"Negotiating Murder: A Panzer Signal Company and the Destruction of the Jews of Peregruznoe, 1942," Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 23, Nr. 2, Fall 2009
“Drafting Testimony: Art, Space, and Evidence in Zeev Porath’s Janowska Drawings,” (in progress)
“Bodily Conquest: Sexual Violence in the Nazi East,” in Mass Violence in Nazi-Occupied Europe: New Debates and Perspectives, ed. by David Stahel and Alex Kay, Indiana University Press (forthcoming September 2018)
“Safe Simulations? Best Practices for Exercising History in the Classroom,” in Teaching Genocide: Insights and Advice from Secondary Teachers and Professors, ed. by Samuel Totten, Rowman Littlefield (forthcoming September 2018)
“Killing on the Ground and in the Mind: The Spatialities of Genocide in Belarus” in Geographies of the Holocaust, ed. Anne Kelly Knowles, Tim Cole, and Alberto Giordano, Indiana University Press, 2014.
“Walking in the Footsteps of the Vanished: Using Physical Landscapes to Understand Wehrmacht Participation in Einsatzgruppen Killings in Belarus,” in Lessons and Legacies XI: Expanding Perspectives on the Holocaust in a Changing World, ed. Hilary Earl and Karl Schleunes, Northwestern University Press, 2015.
“Genocide in a Small Place: Wehrmacht Complicity in Killing the Jews of Krupki, 1941” in The Holocaust and Local History, Vallentine Mitchell Publishers, 2011.
“All the Other Neighbors: Communal Genocide in Eastern Europe,” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Holocaust, ed. by Hilary Earl and Simone Gigliotti, Wiley Blackwell Publishers (forthcoming).
“Understanding the Holocaust in the Context of the Second World War,” in Understanding and Teaching the Holocaust, ed. By Laura Hilton and Avinoam Patt, University of Wisconsin Press (submitted to editors)
“Unraveling Janowska: Excavating an Understudied Camp Through Diverse Testimonies,” in Festschrift for Christopher Browning, ed. by Jürgen Matthäus and Mark Hornburg (in preparation)