Interview With Prof. Wendy Lower

After more than two decades of research, Wendy Lower’s new book, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, made its debut in United States in October 2013. A finalist for the 2013 National Book Award for nonfiction, the book is being translated into 12 languages.

Lower, the John K. Roth Professor of History and George R. Roberts Fellow, was inspired to write it after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. "As an historian, I thought here was an opportunity to to get into the archives." What she found were lists and photos of young German women who were part of "these horrific scenes. And I thought, 'How did these women get here? And if they’re there, what are they witnessing? How are they responding to the violence? Are they actually directly involved in the killing?'"

The book reveals that not only were women complicit in the participation of the Holocaust, but direct killers. "A book like this in some way is an attempt to rectify (the loss of the victims)," Lower says. She also wanted to understand "How is it that women become cruel? What are the conditions that transform them, and humans in general by extension, into genocidal operatives?"