Hitler’s Ostkrieg and the Indian Wars – Comparing Genocide and Conquest by Edward B. Westermann
Initially reading this particular book, one would find the title itself feeling a little heavy and daunting. However, despite the topic within, the book proved to be interesting and insightful. Westermann’s book focused on the aptness and appropriateness of the comparison of Nazi genocide in Eastern Europe with the actions of the U.S. government, the U.S. Army, settlers, and the Native tribes in the conquest of the American west. The author has utilized other scholarly works from expert historians and the like to compare the overlapping philosophies of subjugation, including Lebensraum and manifest destiny as well as the role of government policy, the military strategies involved in both instances, the function of massacre and atrocity, and the nature of German anti-partisan warfare in Eastern Europe with the U.S. Army’s campaign against the Indian tribes of Northern America. Moreover, the book emphasizes moving beyond theoretical constructs and takes on a more empirical approach that focuses on providing in-depth discussion of these two specific historical events and the historical context that put down the framework for the comparison between the western expansion of the U.S. and Nazi Eastern expansion of Europe. The author carefully acknowledges the many similarities as well as differences of the two events and allows readers to examine experiences across time and space from the perspective of genocidal intent and execution of that intent. As a result, this is a book filled with a depth of history and devastating truth, but a truth that all of us should be aware of despite the shadowed heaviness of the overall topic.