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Nazi Wives is a fascinating look at the personal lives, psychological profiles, and marriages of the wives of officers in Hitler's inner circle. Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann--names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse and Gerda... These are the women behind the infam Nazi Wives is a fascinating look at the personal lives, psychological profiles, and marriages of the wives of officers in Hitler's inner circle. Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann--names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse and Gerda... These are the women behind the infamous men--complex individuals with distinctive personalities who were captivated by Hitler and whose everyday lives were governed by Nazi ideology. Throughout the rise and fall of Nazism these women loved and lost, raised families and quarreled with their husbands and each other, all the while jostling for position with the Fuhrer himself. Until now, they have been treated as minor characters, their significance ignored, as if they were unaware of their husbands' murderous acts, despite the evidence that was all around them: the stolen art on their walls, the slave labor in their homes, and the produce grown in concentration camps on their tables. James Wyllie's Nazi Wives explores these women in detail for the first time, skillfully interweaving their stories through years of struggle, power, decline and destruction into the post-war twilight of denial and delusion.


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Nazi Wives is a fascinating look at the personal lives, psychological profiles, and marriages of the wives of officers in Hitler's inner circle. Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann--names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse and Gerda... These are the women behind the infam Nazi Wives is a fascinating look at the personal lives, psychological profiles, and marriages of the wives of officers in Hitler's inner circle. Goering, Goebbels, Himmler, Heydrich, Hess, Bormann--names synonymous with power and influence in the Third Reich. Perhaps less familiar are Carin, Emmy, Magda, Margarete, Lina, Ilse and Gerda... These are the women behind the infamous men--complex individuals with distinctive personalities who were captivated by Hitler and whose everyday lives were governed by Nazi ideology. Throughout the rise and fall of Nazism these women loved and lost, raised families and quarreled with their husbands and each other, all the while jostling for position with the Fuhrer himself. Until now, they have been treated as minor characters, their significance ignored, as if they were unaware of their husbands' murderous acts, despite the evidence that was all around them: the stolen art on their walls, the slave labor in their homes, and the produce grown in concentration camps on their tables. James Wyllie's Nazi Wives explores these women in detail for the first time, skillfully interweaving their stories through years of struggle, power, decline and destruction into the post-war twilight of denial and delusion.

30 review for Nazi Wives: The Women at the Top of Hitler's Germany

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    This didn’t work for this me as an audible book I found the women blended together and I couldn’t tell one apart from the other. I think this would work much better in hard copy which I believe has photographs. I returned the book after 20%. I am not sure I will purchase a hard copy as I wasn’t keen on the format of account either and think it may have been slightly ambitious to include so many of the wives in the one book. I was interested in the lives of these women and how they were charm This didn’t work for this me as an audible book I found the women blended together and I couldn’t tell one apart from the other. I think this would work much better in hard copy which I believe has photographs. I returned the book after 20%. I am not sure I will purchase a hard copy as I wasn’t keen on the format of account either and think it may have been slightly ambitious to include so many of the wives in the one book. I was interested in the lives of these women and how they were charmed by the monsters of the third Reich or indeed if they needed to be charmed in the first place. If I come across a hard copy of this one at a later stage I may purchase it but not rushing out to buy it for now.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    ***Coming Out Next Month*** This is a Non-Fiction book about Nazi Wives some of it is about before WWII, some of it is during WWII, and of course some of it takes place after WWII ended. I found this book very interesting, and I really love that there was some pictures of them. I read a ton of WWII books (Non-fiction and Historical Fiction) and this is not like any one I have read before. It is a heavy read, but I have to say it was so worth the read. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book ***Coming Out Next Month*** This is a Non-Fiction book about Nazi Wives some of it is about before WWII, some of it is during WWII, and of course some of it takes place after WWII ended. I found this book very interesting, and I really love that there was some pictures of them. I read a ton of WWII books (Non-fiction and Historical Fiction) and this is not like any one I have read before. It is a heavy read, but I have to say it was so worth the read. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (St. Martin's Press) or author (James Wyllie) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review about how I feel about this book, and I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. This book is schedule to be release on November 3-2020.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I was glad to see that someone had done a book on the female main players around Hitler, instead of acting as if they didn’t exist. So I was happy to get a chance to read this ARC on the subject. I’ve read about different things involving World War II from many aspects, and this would be a new one to add. If you like books about this era, and would like one that’s a bit different, you may want to give this one a look over. It could end up on your TBR list. There was a bit more intrigue than I wou I was glad to see that someone had done a book on the female main players around Hitler, instead of acting as if they didn’t exist. So I was happy to get a chance to read this ARC on the subject. I’ve read about different things involving World War II from many aspects, and this would be a new one to add. If you like books about this era, and would like one that’s a bit different, you may want to give this one a look over. It could end up on your TBR list. There was a bit more intrigue than I would have imagined between the women, but they were very different and had different agendas at times too. And of course there was a lot going on at that time. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Wyllie, and publisher St. Martin's Press.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    This book is a heavy read, but a very interesting one. The key players in the Nazi regime -- we all know their names. Himmler, Bormann, Hess, Goering...the usual list. We all know their actions, their beliefs....their fates. Books, movies, television shows, documentaries, school lessons....we've learned all about the men that were Hitler's henchmen. But how much do we know about their wives? The women who followed Hitler....the women who were married to these famous, horrific men? Most sources I This book is a heavy read, but a very interesting one. The key players in the Nazi regime -- we all know their names. Himmler, Bormann, Hess, Goering...the usual list. We all know their actions, their beliefs....their fates. Books, movies, television shows, documentaries, school lessons....we've learned all about the men that were Hitler's henchmen. But how much do we know about their wives? The women who followed Hitler....the women who were married to these famous, horrific men? Most sources I have learned from over the years only focus on the men involved. I knew a little bit, but not a lot about the women and families behind those men. The only wife I was really familiar with was Magda Goebbels. How were people so mesmerized and drawn to Hitler? It just astounds me. This entire circle of people knew there were millions of men, women and children being murdered....and they did....nothing. Planned it. Agreed with it. Carried it out. Fine-tuned it. Not a pang of conscience or morality in the bunch. They thought it was right. Wow.....it's just horrifying. This book brought so many new facts into the light for me, but it did nothing to calm my astonishment and horror at the events the Nazis brought about. And, the women behind the men are just a culpable as their husbands. It still chills me clear to the bone when I think about Magda Goebbels poisoning her six children....having them injected with morphine and then administering cyanide to each of them....herself. And the rest of them.....their fates vary, but they all paid a price for their allegience to the Nazis. Chilling, but enlightening read. This is the first book by James Wyllie that I've read. It was well-written and obviously Wyllie did thorough research into the topic. I would definitely like to read more of his writing.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    I have read many books on WWII and the Holocaust, but this was my first read dedicated to the wives and other women in the lives of the Nazi Inner Circle. I really enjoyed reading more about them and what they lived through as the wife of a Nazi. I had heard a good bit about Magda Goebbels and prior to this book, but the others were more illusive to me from my past readings. Anyone who is interested in WWII and learning more about those who were more or less, behind the scenes should read this b I have read many books on WWII and the Holocaust, but this was my first read dedicated to the wives and other women in the lives of the Nazi Inner Circle. I really enjoyed reading more about them and what they lived through as the wife of a Nazi. I had heard a good bit about Magda Goebbels and prior to this book, but the others were more illusive to me from my past readings. Anyone who is interested in WWII and learning more about those who were more or less, behind the scenes should read this book. I am giving this a solid 4 star review. Thank you to Netgalley, James Wyllie and the publisher for my opportunity to read this in exchange for a honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Linden

    I've read extensively on this period of history, but this book offers a different slant, and the author's thorough research was really enlightening. The wives and mistresses of the Nazi hierarchy are interesting in their own right. How much did each woman know? Did they support the horrifying acts committed by their husbands? Or were they just pleased with the power and money and chose to look the other way, claiming ignorance? Recommended for anyone interested in women's history or the study of I've read extensively on this period of history, but this book offers a different slant, and the author's thorough research was really enlightening. The wives and mistresses of the Nazi hierarchy are interesting in their own right. How much did each woman know? Did they support the horrifying acts committed by their husbands? Or were they just pleased with the power and money and chose to look the other way, claiming ignorance? Recommended for anyone interested in women's history or the study of World War II. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Casey Wheeler

    This book is an interesting read. I have read a great deal about World War II and the events leading up to it, but never on the subjects that the author covered in this book. He provides biographies of the women at the top of Nazi Germany and not only their role with their husbands, between themselves and their relationship and interaction with Adolph Hitler. Among those covered are the wives of Goering, Himmler, Goebels and Bormann along with Eva Braun. Wyllie does a very good job of presenting This book is an interesting read. I have read a great deal about World War II and the events leading up to it, but never on the subjects that the author covered in this book. He provides biographies of the women at the top of Nazi Germany and not only their role with their husbands, between themselves and their relationship and interaction with Adolph Hitler. Among those covered are the wives of Goering, Himmler, Goebels and Bormann along with Eva Braun. Wyllie does a very good job of presenting an objective view of each. He also addresses what happens to each of them. This book will be of interest to those who want to learn more about World War II in Europe. I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook page.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    NAZI WIVES I think we tend to visualize Nazis as “monsters“. It’s even more terrifying when you understand that they are just people. Ilse, Carin, Emmy, Magda, Eva, Margaret, Lina, Gerda. There’s something about this book that completely transports you back into the Nazi era in Germany during the 1930s and 40s. Maybe it’s the tiny and intimate details of these people’s lives; Nazi leaders and their wives, their families, their homes, estates, and castles. Maybe it’s the descriptions of Hitler’s in NAZI WIVES I think we tend to visualize Nazis as “monsters“. It’s even more terrifying when you understand that they are just people. Ilse, Carin, Emmy, Magda, Eva, Margaret, Lina, Gerda. There’s something about this book that completely transports you back into the Nazi era in Germany during the 1930s and 40s. Maybe it’s the tiny and intimate details of these people’s lives; Nazi leaders and their wives, their families, their homes, estates, and castles. Maybe it’s the descriptions of Hitler’s intimate dinners and large parties at the Eagle’s Nest and the Berghof compound. And all the information about how these women met their husbands, became involved with Hitler, and how they viewed themselves in relation to the Nazi movement. Whatever it is, you feel like you are mingling amongst these people. And it’s really pretty creepy. The amount of detail in this book is excellent. Idiosyncrasies regarding personal and mental health issues, beliefs in astrology, the occult, herbal remedies, spa retreats, and hospitalizations are plentiful. Relationships between the men and their wives and mistresses are also explored in detail. Who was in the Berghof clique and who wasn’t, and the changes in loyalties throughout the timespan. Although they lived luxurious lives and had a lot of wealth, many dealt with cheating husbands, having to have many babies, and being treated poorly and often left alone for long periods of time. There was a great deal of rivalry, catty behavior, and jealousy. The book is set up and told chronologically, which is a positive in that you can understand the interactions amongst these people as time progresses. One thing that I found difficult was keeping track of the various people. I think it would’ve been helpful to have their last names used in addition to first names more often throughout the book. I found myself referring back many times to make sure I knew who was who. Nazi Wives also includes many pictures and an extensive bibliography and notes. I felt that a lot of research went into the making of this book and it encourages me to learn more about these infamous women. Whether it is completely factual, I do not know. But it was enjoyable nonetheless. I would like to thank NetGalley, James Wyllie, and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liviu

    While somewhat disjointed as it tries to cover the lives of several women who had relatively little in common - although they generally came from the middle or upper-middle classes of pre-Nazi Germany - the book is quite interesting though more for the little tidbits and personal anecdotes, than the history per se; the pages also turn fairly fast and the pre/after Nazi period is well covered Recommended

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rama

    Women of Nazi legacy This is a captivating study of the personal lives of Hitler's henchmen and the women who shared their lives at the height of the second world war. This narrative history looks at the uncertainties and instabilities in the lives of the men discussed here: Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolph Hess, Martin Bormann, and Hitler. How did these darkest and powerful figures handle their family lives? Because their wives gave them support, en Women of Nazi legacy This is a captivating study of the personal lives of Hitler's henchmen and the women who shared their lives at the height of the second world war. This narrative history looks at the uncertainties and instabilities in the lives of the men discussed here: Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolph Hess, Martin Bormann, and Hitler. How did these darkest and powerful figures handle their family lives? Because their wives gave them support, encouragement and direction, and most importantly stood by the Nazi ideology. The Third Reich controlled every aspect of their officer’s lives that included who they had romantic relationships, who they married, and the family background of these women. Their family lives offer perceptions of Nazi rule and the psychology of its leaders. For example, Gerda Bormann, wife of Martin Bormann, was Hitler’s private secretary and an ideal Nazi wife. She had her blonde hair in a tress and wore traditional Bavarian dress and walked with gait and elegance of Julie Andrews of “The Sound of Music.” The Nazis believed their mission was to 'masculinize' life in Germany and women must play a supportive role that included not complaining about their husband’s infidelities. Gerda Bormann was programmed to obey her husband. She went on to suggest a contract be drawn up granting her husband’s mistress Manja Behrens the same rights as her. And even suggested a law to be passed that would entitle healthy men to have two wives. But behind the propaganda machinery, its leaders were involved in debauched affairs, three-way relationships and brutal mistreatment of their wives that would have shocked in today’s world. Joseph Goebbels was another dirty dog in his personal life. He pursued director Leni Riefenstahl and stuck his hand under her dress while they were at an opera. He had an affair with Czech actress Lida Baarova and asked his wife Magda if his mistress can move in together in a three-way relationship. She reluctantly agreed, but progressively fed up with his behavior, she considered a divorce, but Hitler refused to permit that. The book is quite narrative and sometimes gets boring to read. Readers interested in the history of Nazi Germany may find this interesting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Wasley

    The wives of the elite Nazis benefitted enormously from the institutionalised murder, plunder and corruption by their husbands. They knew of their brutal conduct from the early 1920s to 1945 and provided the necessary veneer of civilised conduct to cover it. All were unrepentent. An interesting book about an aspect of the regime that has been rarely covered.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tammy O

    This is a very well researched and interesting book. I struggled to keep the names straight at first. I made a list of the major players, their wives and their jobs to help me connect the people and their actions. It was eye opening to learn the wives were so involved in the SS. They loved being part of the Hitler clique! And what a strange fascination most of them had for Hitler! Looking back, it’s easy to see how wrong they were, but that early group of Nazis chose their path without any doubts This is a very well researched and interesting book. I struggled to keep the names straight at first. I made a list of the major players, their wives and their jobs to help me connect the people and their actions. It was eye opening to learn the wives were so involved in the SS. They loved being part of the Hitler clique! And what a strange fascination most of them had for Hitler! Looking back, it’s easy to see how wrong they were, but that early group of Nazis chose their path without any doubts or hesitation. They were ruthless and determined to control the world with their elite race. The wives were like mean girls in the popular group at school. They enjoyed their status, their power, their glamour and their connections. They were competitive and went to any lengths to remain in good standing with Hitler. They were also heartless in their opinions of the Jews and wanted them removed from Europe. It’s obvious they knew the extent of their evil by the end of the war. Suicidal decisions were made knowing the world would view them as monsters. I’m glad the book continued through the Nuremberg trials and beyond with the stories of those who lived. Advanced reader copy courtesy of the publishers at NetGalley for review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Elyse (ElyseReadsandSpeaks)

    This was unfortunately a miss for me. I'm really interested in Nazis because I think it's fascinating that a group of horrible people managed to come to power and convince others to exterminate people. Let's be clear - I said it was fascinating, not inspiring or worthy of idolatry. We never hear much about the women in this hierarchy of madness so I thought this was a great premise for a book. However, it was kind of patchy, the women were often difficult to tell apart, and we never spent too lo This was unfortunately a miss for me. I'm really interested in Nazis because I think it's fascinating that a group of horrible people managed to come to power and convince others to exterminate people. Let's be clear - I said it was fascinating, not inspiring or worthy of idolatry. We never hear much about the women in this hierarchy of madness so I thought this was a great premise for a book. However, it was kind of patchy, the women were often difficult to tell apart, and we never spent too long on one woman so I felt like I still didn't know any of them by the end of the book. I did find some things interesting that I hadn't known before. For example, I had no clue that so many people connected to Hitler attempted suicide multiple times (and failed!). I also knew next to nothing about Geli so it peaked my interest to read some facts about her. Unfortunately, the things that grabbed me in here simply weren't enough. I was bored throughout most of the book and realized that this is the kind of book that usually turns me off to nonfiction - lots of facts with no actual storytelling to weave together a cohesive narrative. Overall, it was slog to get through with some interesting tidbits here and there.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    http://www.bookwormblues.net/2020/11/... A while ago, I read a book about Ravensbruck, a female concentration camp a bit outside of Berlin. It is, hands down, one of the best books about concentration camps I’ve read yet, being more a biography of the camp itself, and its many changes, than any specific people inside it (though it does follow specific people). Anyway, as part of this book, the author was talking about this little tiny town, situated on a lake, outside of the camp. Now, a whole lo http://www.bookwormblues.net/2020/11/... A while ago, I read a book about Ravensbruck, a female concentration camp a bit outside of Berlin. It is, hands down, one of the best books about concentration camps I’ve read yet, being more a biography of the camp itself, and its many changes, than any specific people inside it (though it does follow specific people). Anyway, as part of this book, the author was talking about this little tiny town, situated on a lake, outside of the camp. Now, a whole lot of the people who worked in this camp lived in that town, but more than that, Himmler, the guy who orchestrated the “Final Solution” had a mistress in that town. They ended up having two kids together. Whenever he would go tour Ravensbruck, he’d stay at her house for a while and for some reason, that fact kind of blew my mind. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me until that point that these people had families, and children, and wives, and friends, and people they loved, but that book really got my mind churning on that fact. The idea of Himmler going home and eating a nice dinner with his mistress and their son and daughter after seeing all those people in the concentration camp really boggled my mind. What kind of woman would be married to someone like that? And yes, I know most of them claimed to not know much, but I really find that a bit hard to believe, especially after reading this book. Perhaps they didn’t know everything, but they knew enough. I mean, Lina Heydrich had people from concentration camps work in the gardens around her house, and when she couldn’t beat them hard enough, she’d have her SS guards do it for her. So yeah, they knew. They knew enough. Margaret had seen press coverage about the death camps and knew her husband would be blamed; facing the prospect of having to account for his actions, she chose to plead ignorance, and told Stringer that she was ‘just a woman’ who ‘did not understand politics’ Anyway, so the whole idea of these women married to the men at the top of the Nazi food chain really burrowed under my skin and when I saw this book was coming out, I knew I had to read it. I wanted to sort of see into the minds of the people closest to those monsters at the top. Nazi Wives covers the lives of a handful of women at the top of the government, starting with how they met their husbands, and the life from there. What surprised me, perhaps, is how little these women really had in common. Some of them were friends with each other, some of them really kept themselves on the periphery. Himmler’s wife was probably the most removed, her and her daughter living elsewhere, while her husband spent most of his time with his mistress, Hedwig. Their marriage, early on, didn’t work, but instead of getting a divorce, they decided to stay together for the sake of their kid, and their friendship seems to be quite firm, despite their failing romantic relationship. Magda Goebbles was probably the wife I was most wanting to read about. I didn’t know, for example, that she was basically selected to be the Nazi Party’s “first woman” as it were, nor that her relationship with her womanizing husband was so miserable she was constantly threatening divorce, but Hitler refused to allow them to divorce and so they stayed together, always fighting, always circling the same issue. Goebbles had a long and evolved relationship with an actress at one point. He’d also bring his mistresses home, and Magda would change the locks on the house, or call them pretending to be someone else and tell them to meet her husband in some weird location, and the leave them waiting there, sometimes for hours, until she told her husband what she’d done. For me there is no alternative. Our beautiful idea is being destroyed, and with it goes everything in life I knew to be fine, worthy of admiration, noble and good. Life will not be worth living in the world that will come after Hitler and National Socialism. Therefore, I have brought the children with me. They are too precious for the life that will come after us. (Magda’s letter to her son from her first marriage telling him she was planning on suicide) Eva Braun gets touched on a few times, though not much. She, when compared to the rest of the book, is probably the least interesting figure and I think highlighting her life so infrequently, kept her from overshadowing everyone else in the book. Out of everyone detailed here, I think Eva Braun might have known the least about what was going on than anyone. Kept in her bubble, I think she rarely had contact with the wider world and was rather happy to keep it that way. Her days were full of swimming in lakes and tea time and the like. Hitler was seldom there, and when he spoke to her, I got the idea that they spoke of things that were very unrelated to WWII. Furthermore, when everyone else was having things rationed, Eva Braun never had an issue getting hold of things like makeup, and new clothes (she wore three dresses a day), so I wonder, honestly, if she even realized rationing was happening to the average person. When she finally went into the bunker in Berlin with Hitler, she was absolutely shocked by what she had seen. Nazi Wives isn’t just about their lives, though. There is a wider picture being painted regarding things that were happening in the broader world around them. When Heydrich is assassinated, for example, the author does a great job at painting just why he was where he was, and what was happening in the area at the time that led to his assassination, and how said death resulted in the horrible medical tests I read about in Ravensbruck (the book I cite at the start of this review). I learned a lot about just what kind of iron control Hitler and his cronies had over the average person is surreal. Himmler had to research each person entering a marriage to make sure their genetic line was aryan enough. If divorce was requested, he had to approve it. If divorce was requested between people in the upper echelons of the government, Hitler had to directly approve it (which became the bane of the Goebbles’ relationship). 77 per cent of the SS leadership cadre were married, as opposed to around 44 per cent of fthe general population, and any SS man who wanted to leave his wife had to get Himmler’s permission; if they defied him, they were expelled from the SS. Perhaps one small aside in this book that stuck to my bones was when Himmler took his wife and daughter to Dachau to see the garden, and both of them talked about how beautiful it is, and that really threw me through a loop. They went to a death camp, where people were literally dying all around them, but golly gee, wasn’t the garden beautiful. My cognitive dissonance when reading this aside was truly something to behold. Gudrun wrote to her father after their visit and told him she’d seen ‘the large nursery, the mill, the bees’ and ‘how all the herbs were processed’, gushing about how ‘magnificent’ and ‘lovely’ it all was. For Margaret, the plantation was the end result of the plans she and her husband had nurtured in the early days of their relationship, the homeopathic nurse and the agriculture student who wanted their own small herb garden. To see their dream realised on such a grand scale must have been deeply gratifying. Not once did she stop to consider what it cost in human suffering: the back-breaking work, long hours, poor food rations, severe cold and outbreaks of deadly diseases. Furthermore, the author discusses how each woman deals with the war a bit differently. Goering and his wife, for example, lived in a sort of fantasy world, which helped them escape from the realities of the war happening around them. A few of them tried to get Jewish friends out of the country, to safer locations. There were even instances were Himmler was called to make sure some of their Jewish friends went to “good camps” rather than the death camps (Himmler lied, but I’m sure none of us are shocked about that). For Emmy, all the roleplaying in which she indulged served to conceal the ugly truth of what Goering actually did for a living: his turbocharged Luftwaffe saw its first action in the Spanish Civil War fighting alongside Franco’s right-wing armies and was responsible for the flattening of the small town of Guernica. Henriette Hoffmann – who married Baldur von Schirach, the Hitler Youth leader, in 1932 – made a psychologically acute observation about Emmy’s flight into a fantasy world: ‘She would have been content if … the uniforms had been stage costumes, her palace the scenery, the noise of war the sound effects behind the scenes and her magnificent presents only props. She never wanted reality.’ I highlighted a ton of this book. A lot of information that I just didn’t know before. Small details that help paint a portrait of these women and the times they lived in. I don’t know what I went into this expecting, but none of them were innocent, and I think (again, this is just my personal opinion) the claims of ignorance after it was all over were lies. Himmler’s wife and daughter Gudrun, for example, remained loyal to his memory for the rest of their lives and when she saw the media reports after the war, she knew what would fall on her husband. Magda Goebbles murder of her children and subsequent suicide was detailed, as was Hitler’s and Eva’s. Then the Nuremburg trials after, and life after that was touched on, too. There are two things to note that keep this book from getting five stars. First, occasionally this book felt a bit scattered, and while I don’t think there was really any other way to go about it, I would have enjoyed a bit more depth in places and perhaps a bit more of a coherent narrative. I do think the book would have had to have been longer to accomplish that, but I also feel like it needed it to get the depth I was really looking for. Secondly, there was a story in the book about how someone went to visit Hedwig (Himmler’s mistress outside of Ravensbruck) and she brought them inside to see a copy of Mein Kampf bound with human skin taken from the back of a Jew in Dachau, and a chair made out of human bones. After tea, Hedwig invited them all to the attic to see something special: furniture made from human body parts. Gerda’s eldest son, Martin Adolf Bormann – who was home from school for the holidays – remembered how Hedwig ‘clinically and medically’ explained the process behind the construction of a chair ‘whose seat was a human pelvis and the legs were human legs – on human feet’. Hedwig also had copies of Mein Kampf bound with human skin that had been peeled off the backs of Dachau inmates. ‘Shocked and petrified’, Martin Adolf and his siblings went outside with their mother, who was ‘equally stricken’. Gerda told them that when Himmler tried to give Bormann a similarly unique edition of Mein Kampf he refused to take it; Gerda said it was ‘too much for him’. Now, I read this and thought, “That’s something I’d like to research and read more about” and so I did, and I found absolutely no corroborating evidence anywhere that any of these things actually existed. It was one story, told by one person (and widely told, at that. The story is known.), and while his story never changed, arguments were presented in the things I read that if something like that had actually existed, more than one person would have known about it. So perhaps it did exist, and perhaps it didn’t. I found it rather questionable that something without firm evidence being portrayed as truth was rather… well, it should be noted. Perhaps that actually happened, and that chair and book actually existed, but if so, I found no evidence of it in my various searches, and it makes me wonder what other hearsay tidbits are in this book, presented as fact. All in all, this was a very illuminating, disturbing read. Recommended, especially if this sort of thing interests you. 4/5 stars

  15. 4 out of 5

    Maine Colonial

    I received a free publisher's advance review copy, via Netgalley. This is a group bio of: Emmy, wife of Hermann Goering Ilse, wife of Rudolf Hess Magda, wife of Josef Goebbels Margaret, wife of Heinrich Himmler Gerda, wife of Martin Bormann Lina, wife of Reinhard Heydrich What’s ultimately infuriating and sickening is that these are not women who ended up being married to the wrong men. With the exception of Emmy Goering, these women were strongly antisemitic and enthusiastic Nazis, some joining the par I received a free publisher's advance review copy, via Netgalley. This is a group bio of: Emmy, wife of Hermann Goering Ilse, wife of Rudolf Hess Magda, wife of Josef Goebbels Margaret, wife of Heinrich Himmler Gerda, wife of Martin Bormann Lina, wife of Reinhard Heydrich What’s ultimately infuriating and sickening is that these are not women who ended up being married to the wrong men. With the exception of Emmy Goering, these women were strongly antisemitic and enthusiastic Nazis, some joining the party before their husbands. Even after the war, when all was known about the horrors committed by the Nazis, they were still faithful to their husbands and to Nazism. The worst of them, Lina Heydrich, spent the rest of her life aiding former SS men. So much for any thoughts of women being tender hearted. Like their husbands, these women jockeyed for positions of power in Hitler’s circle, and didn’t hesitate to stab each other in the back. They shared the delusion of Aryan superiority and were fine and dandy with turning non-Aryans into slaves and corpses. They enjoyed the privileged lives they led and didn’t care—or even welcomed—the costs to others. Despite their being moral monsters in similar ways, they were individuals and Wyllie takes us through each one’s story. Though it’s occasionally hard to remember who is who, it’s an interesting read that includes information not previously available, in particular about the Himmlers’ marriage. A worthwhile addition to scholarship about the personalities at the pinnacle of the Third Reich.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Though the title had me worried it’s a good look at the women within the heart of the Hitler regime.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Helene

    Their stories are fascinating and forgotten. Gerda Borman, Martin's wife was 19 when she married and had 10 children before dying in an Italian prison at age 37. Their stories are fascinating and forgotten. Gerda Borman, Martin's wife was 19 when she married and had 10 children before dying in an Italian prison at age 37.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Isabelle

    Nazi Wives // by James Wyllie I've always found it important to learn about your country's history, especially the dark parts, rather than living in denial about it, so I try to read books about Germany, and especially the 2nd World War, regularly. Nazi Wives stood out to me when I first saw it because it looked at the events from a different angle that I hadn't previously learned from. It was interesting to read about, though rather dry in some places. This seemed to be a well-researched book (a Nazi Wives // by James Wyllie I've always found it important to learn about your country's history, especially the dark parts, rather than living in denial about it, so I try to read books about Germany, and especially the 2nd World War, regularly. Nazi Wives stood out to me when I first saw it because it looked at the events from a different angle that I hadn't previously learned from. It was interesting to read about, though rather dry in some places. This seemed to be a well-researched book (an extensive list of sources is available at the back of the book) and I liked that we were able to see what happened to the women after the end of the war as well. The pictures and many quotes from diaries as well as the descriptions of how women like Hitler and Himmler interacted with the leading Nazis' children was in stark contrast to the depictions we usually see of them. It made them more human and real than you sometimes think of historical figures, which made me very uncomfortable at times. I was impressed with how nonjudgmental Wyllie was able to talk about the women and their actions, though - as another reviewer pointed out - he gives us plenty of reasons for us to be judgmental ourselves. I was blown away at how convinced of their righteousness several of these women still were post war! But I guess I shouldn't be too surprised after reading that one of them still believed they were on the side of Good and that Jews were Absolute Evil when she literally just said she was "stricken" after seeing the book Mein Kampf bound in human skin. I read this book much more slowly than I usually would one of its size because of its heavy subject. As a regular reader of books about this time period, you tend to think that you've read about the most disturbing parts of that war already but every book continues to surprise me (negatively) with the disgusting acts that were done to people. I do have to say that I kept this book at 3 stars because it did not feel like its true focus was on the women. There was a lot of focus on the men, which of course is hard to avoid, but I feel that this book would have been better off named and marketed differently. Something alluding to the leading Nazi marriages or families would have been more fitting in my opinion. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Nazi Wives by James Wylie is a fascinating look into the untold histories, lives, and even thought processes of the spouses to some of the most infamous and heinous masterminds and criminals that were a part of the Nazi regime. Clearly, the author went above and beyond with his research outlying not only how the couples met, but their respective ideologies and how those shaped their interactions. It was most interesting to see how those ideals molded and changed to external factors as well as int Nazi Wives by James Wylie is a fascinating look into the untold histories, lives, and even thought processes of the spouses to some of the most infamous and heinous masterminds and criminals that were a part of the Nazi regime. Clearly, the author went above and beyond with his research outlying not only how the couples met, but their respective ideologies and how those shaped their interactions. It was most interesting to see how those ideals molded and changed to external factors as well as internal. Despite it all, I still am unable to conjure up any sympathy for these women, alright maybe for the young children who had no hope. Yes, these women were surrounded by an unimaginable and seismic shift, and yes propaganda filled the air, but each still had the possibility of a mind of their own, and chose to go down the path they chose despite the risks and negative effects. I still am disgusted by their choices, even though I was riveted to learn more about them. Excellent book. 5/5 stars Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ionia

    I always enjoy when you get to hear the other half of a well-known story, (or in this case stories) and this book does just that. The women in the lives of the major Nazi players were important both in supportive roles and sometimes by taking direct actions, and they often get forgotten to the archives of history. This well-researched and interesting book does a good job remedying that. In this book, the reader gets to experience what these women went through, both on and off the stage of the pu I always enjoy when you get to hear the other half of a well-known story, (or in this case stories) and this book does just that. The women in the lives of the major Nazi players were important both in supportive roles and sometimes by taking direct actions, and they often get forgotten to the archives of history. This well-researched and interesting book does a good job remedying that. In this book, the reader gets to experience what these women went through, both on and off the stage of the public spotlight. I found their stories interesting and valuable. Whilst it can be hard to understand how someone could have supported a spouse during this time all the while knowing about their direct involvement, or that seems to be the common assumption, one comes to learn from reading this book just how many gaps in knowledge there actually were among those closest to the Nazi leaders. I was impressed with the depth of information provided in this book and the way it brought these often forgotten women out of the shadows. This is a fascinating non-fiction title and one that anyone interested in WWII should take the time to check out. This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher, provided through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Willow Rankin

    I've always been interested in Nazi Germany, in particular the atrocities that they conducted against over humans, due to family history, and losing family members in the death camps. However, bar reading the Wikipedia pages on the Nazi elite this my first foray into finding out more about those in power. I bought this book in one of the many Kindle says and for 99p I have to say is a fascinating read into the women behind some of those men at the centre. We spend the book looking at lives of se I've always been interested in Nazi Germany, in particular the atrocities that they conducted against over humans, due to family history, and losing family members in the death camps. However, bar reading the Wikipedia pages on the Nazi elite this my first foray into finding out more about those in power. I bought this book in one of the many Kindle says and for 99p I have to say is a fascinating read into the women behind some of those men at the centre. We spend the book looking at lives of several of these women, who after the war, some tried to disappear into obscurity whilst others were committed Nazis till their deaths, and not one women showed any remorse for their actions; profiting on the millions of those who lives were lost, by throwing lavish parties, competing to be the Queen of the Nazi regime, as well as the general greed of those in power. Overall, this book was a fascinating read about the women connected to the elite, and showed their daily, (and in some places) pathetic lives.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Hill

    Up until now, the women of the German commanders have often been ignored. While their husbands dominated the battlefields, and their legacy has horrified those who have read about the war, the wives were never given much thought. This was an interesting read, looking into the women who stood beside their husbands, looking for favor within the growing Nazi party, and gives them a voice in history, other than a footnote beside their husbands. I enjoyed the book and getting to know a few more shado Up until now, the women of the German commanders have often been ignored. While their husbands dominated the battlefields, and their legacy has horrified those who have read about the war, the wives were never given much thought. This was an interesting read, looking into the women who stood beside their husbands, looking for favor within the growing Nazi party, and gives them a voice in history, other than a footnote beside their husbands. I enjoyed the book and getting to know a few more shadow figures from history.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nissa

    This book will not be available in the (US) until November 2020 so thankfully I was able to get a used copy on bookdepository. The book was very fascinating to read. If you enjoy reading WW2 history about the Nazi’s than you should check it out.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bonnye Reed

    Despite years of interest in reading about and studying the nuances of the ins and outs of the Second World War, I have read very little about the wives of those mover's and shakers in Germany's Nazi Party. Truthfully I didn't find that to be odd - thank you James Wyllie for bringing these ladies into the light. I found several things to be notable - in most instances, the ladies were intensely interested in the politics involved in Germany between wars, and were affected more intensely by the d Despite years of interest in reading about and studying the nuances of the ins and outs of the Second World War, I have read very little about the wives of those mover's and shakers in Germany's Nazi Party. Truthfully I didn't find that to be odd - thank you James Wyllie for bringing these ladies into the light. I found several things to be notable - in most instances, the ladies were intensely interested in the politics involved in Germany between wars, and were affected more intensely by the depravations Germany suffered as a result of the First World War than were the men. For the women, it was a more personal affront and affected their children and other family members to a much stronger degree than was expressed by the men of the party. For the men, it was politics and what you can make of it, but to the women, it was the future of their children, their families, that were at stake. And for the women, it seemed to be easier to justify or overlook the genocidal aspects of the party line. In their defense, it didn't start out that intensely skewed into the mores of the party in the 1920s when they were young and impressionable and intensely tired of living in a society in which all things were limited, all interests and needs curtailed by the humiliating reparations demanded of the German population by the Treaty of Versailles. This book, in focusing on the women, brings to the fore all that the society who reached maturity in the 1920s and 1930s was up against. Most could not remember a time when Germany was at peace, food was plentiful, there was time for entertainment and socializing, and education was available to all who desired it. For them the world during and post-WWI was all that they knew and was unacceptable to almost everyone of that generation. This was an intense and compelling read. Thank you James Wyllie for this fine viewpoint into the past. I received a free electronic ARC of this novel from NetGalley, James Wyllie, and St. Martin's Press. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this novel of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of this work. Obviously, a great deal of work and research went into Nazi Wives, bringing to us an overview of cause and effect that was before obscured by the very horror of the history of this war. It doesn't make the protagonists less evil. Just lets us see into their influencers along the way. You cannot defend yourself against evil if you don't see it clearly, understand the intentions and expectations of the protagonists. Publication date November 3, 2020. Reviewed on Nov 3, 2020, at Goodreads, Netgalley, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, BookBub, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    I couldn’t put this book down. I felt like I was compulsively reading a trainwreck of the rich and famous, heading for their own demise while stomping on as many people as they could along the way. Sadly, nowhere near enough of them got the punishments that they deserved in the end. My main takeaway from this book is that white women can be bad enough in “normal” times, but put us in a situation where money, fame, and an ascension to a throne are all a possibility, and we become downright evil. I couldn’t put this book down. I felt like I was compulsively reading a trainwreck of the rich and famous, heading for their own demise while stomping on as many people as they could along the way. Sadly, nowhere near enough of them got the punishments that they deserved in the end. My main takeaway from this book is that white women can be bad enough in “normal” times, but put us in a situation where money, fame, and an ascension to a throne are all a possibility, and we become downright evil. Never for one moment did I doubt that these wives of top ranking Nazi men knew exactly what was going on around them. There is no way on earth that they didn’t know. And for some reason they all seemed to get away with it, serving little to no prison time, in much more comfortable quarters than anyone their husbands sent to concentration and extermination camps did. As the title states, this Nazi Wives focuses on the lives of famous Nazi officials’ wives, but it also provides ample information on the husbands, as well as Hitler himself. We are introduced to the families and entourages of Hitler, Goering, Himmler, Goebbels, Hess, Heydrich, Bormann, as well as a few others, with the main focus on the wives and girlfriends: Carin Goering, Emmy Goering, Margaret Himmler, Magda Goebbels, Eva Braun, Ilse Hess, Lina Heydrich, and I have probably forgotten some. All of these women were absolutely despicable and vomit-inducing, but honestly not surprising. I’m sure they, and others, would do it all over again if they had the chance to. I could rattle off quite a few women like them who are alive right now… It isn’t surprising to me that those who survived the war and the aftermath maintained their innocence until their deaths, while continuing to promote the “greatness” of their husbands who were “just doing their jobs.” James Wyllie obviously researched these individuals in great depth, and used all of this research to craft a highly readable book about their lives. Oftentimes these types of books end up getting bogged down in details, or a bit confusing, especially when they deal with multiple people over a long timeframe (over 20 years), but I never felt any of that reading Nazi Wives. I did jot down the wives full names at the beginning though, that helped me pair them to the correct husband, as the author does go by their first names for the most part of the book. I love how the book is mainly timeline based and skips to different characters on a regular basis. It helped me map it all out in my head, and it also helped me to draw my own image of each woman, as well as my own conclusions on them. For the most part the author relies on existing documents (journals, interviews etc), to create portraits of these women and their lives, and we are left to make our own opinions about them. What is quite chilling to me is that some of these people’s kids actually remained staunch Nazis/neo-Nazis for the rest of their lives, even after everything that their parents had been involved in was fully exposed to them. Gudrun, Himmler’s daughter, remained devoted to her father and his legacy right up until her death in 2018! How does one ignore genocide?! Anyway, this is a very well researched and written book that will leave you with a sick feeling to your stomach, and a real yearning to ensure that real history is taught to our kids. These women should be exposed for who they were in the same way as their husbands have always been. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Debra Pawlak

    I received an advance reading copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. I have read a number of books about World War II, but I have never found one that talked about the women who were married (or in a relationship with) Nazi officials. Women like Ilse Hess, Emmy Goering, and Magda Goebbels were up front and center during a very turbulent time. I have often wondered what became of these women and what roles did they really play in their husbands' lives. For the most part I received an advance reading copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for a fair review. I have read a number of books about World War II, but I have never found one that talked about the women who were married (or in a relationship with) Nazi officials. Women like Ilse Hess, Emmy Goering, and Magda Goebbels were up front and center during a very turbulent time. I have often wondered what became of these women and what roles did they really play in their husbands' lives. For the most part, these Nazi wives were born around 1900. They lived through World War I, which the Germans lost in a big way. The Treaty of Versailles that ended the war left Germany with little land or power. Hitler wanted to restore the country to a greater glory and the only way to do that (in his mind) was to expand the borders, and so his rampage throughout Europe began. We all know that the Nazi leaders were not 'nice' people, and for the most part, neither were their wives. (I would not want to be friends with any of them.) They enjoyed a lavish lifestyle during war time, with their fancy cars, expensive clothes, and elegant homes--often decorated with stolen art. They all shared a hatred for Jewish people and doted over Hitler. Their husbands cheated, lied, and were responsible for more deaths than we can count, while their wives often looked the other way. At the end of the war when they knew they would be defeated, the men insisted that even though they may not be victors, the cause would rise again someday and succeed with a new generation--a very chilling thought in today's world. Many of these women were tried at Nuremburg and convicted of lesser crimes. Some served prison time, some committed suicide--the most famous being Magda Goebbels, who also killed her six children before she and her husband swallowed cyanide. All in all, this was a very interesting book that completely held my attention. My only complaint was that I found it difficult to keep all of the women straight ( i.e., who was married to who). Other than that, the author did a fine job presenting the information and giving a unique insight into the women who not only knew Hitler on a personal level, but also lived with his henchmen. These women definitely liked the lifestyle their husbands provided. Sadly it was at the expense of the rest of the world. Excellent read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    The men who were at the top of the Nazi regime are well known, and much has been written about them. Their wives, however, perhaps with the exception of Eva Braun and Magda Goebbels, are a different story. At most, we've heard or read their names somewhere, maybe glimpsed their faces in photographs, but other than that, we know nothing about them. This book aims to change that, exploring in depth the lives and personalities of Braun and Goebbels as well as Carin and Emmy Goering, Ilse Hess, Marg The men who were at the top of the Nazi regime are well known, and much has been written about them. Their wives, however, perhaps with the exception of Eva Braun and Magda Goebbels, are a different story. At most, we've heard or read their names somewhere, maybe glimpsed their faces in photographs, but other than that, we know nothing about them. This book aims to change that, exploring in depth the lives and personalities of Braun and Goebbels as well as Carin and Emmy Goering, Ilse Hess, Margaret Himmler, Gerda Bormann and Lina Heydrich, all of whom with the exception of Emmy Goering were convinced Nazis and for the most part strong supporters of their husbands, profiting from their positions and the exploitation of the many who suffered as they enjoyed power and privilege. This fascinating and very well researched book provides an excellent reminder that the people behind some of the most horrific acts in human history were in fact just that - people, rather than simply monsters. Wyllie portrays his subjects and their families in vivid detail that shows how complex and human they were - not sympathetic, mind you, not in the least, but human. It makes them that much more scarier and more sinister.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marty

    Unexpected good read, and interesting insight to the wives of top Nazis. It was a bit difficult to connect which wife belonged to which husband as whole sections would start off with only first names. Thank you for bring this part of history to light.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Saturday's Child

    What an intriguing group of women these wives and girlfriends were.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Heil

    A well researched book detailing the various women of the Nazi regime. James Wyllie hits all the big names; Magda Goebbels, Emmy Goering, Eva Braun, Ilse Hess, etc. Interestingly, the only big name seemingly missing was Annelise von Ribbentrop, which I thought would have been a good addition as very other biographies touch on her. Nonetheless, Wyllie's book is perhaps the best biography out there detailing the various Nazi wives. There have been a few others, but they usually lacked heavy detail A well researched book detailing the various women of the Nazi regime. James Wyllie hits all the big names; Magda Goebbels, Emmy Goering, Eva Braun, Ilse Hess, etc. Interestingly, the only big name seemingly missing was Annelise von Ribbentrop, which I thought would have been a good addition as very other biographies touch on her. Nonetheless, Wyllie's book is perhaps the best biography out there detailing the various Nazi wives. There have been a few others, but they usually lacked heavy detail and each woman had their own chapter as oppose to Wyllie who intertwines them all in each chapter, which I really liked. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the time period.

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