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The Morale Division

ISBN: 9781405105606 | 1405105607
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Blackwell Pub
Pub. Date: 5/18/2016

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Total devastation, not a soul, not one object is intact.... Trees in the park dead but still standing: a vision of winter in springtime.... Nothing is more disturbing than this peace, this feeling of comfort and calm associated with utter destruction: the houses are empty shells.During the last stages of WWII the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (USSBS) was formed to assess the effects of Allied bombing on the German war machinery and civilian population. Many scholars and young intellectuals were hired to carry out this intelligence effort, among them John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Nitze, W.H. Auden, and Alfred Métraux.What these individuals witnessed challenged their sense of reality for they saw not only the utter devastation of German cities; they were among the first individuals to talk to the survivors of the Holocaust. Both Auden and famed anthropologist Alfred Métraux worked for the Morale Division, entering Germany immediately after the Allied troops had established control of portions of German territory to interview civilian survivors of the war.A deportee from Auschwitz and Ebensee with numbers tattooed on his back and chest. The man who weeps when he talks about his son, cremated in Auschwitz.... Crematoriums as big as Renault factories.... Some of the women do nothing but weep through the entire interview.The only direct testimonial by a member of the Morale Division that has been recovered are the Métraux diaries and letters collected here. They constitute a poignant ethnography of the moral devastation of war. Intimate and unflinchingly honest, these documents, published for the first time, offer the reader a window into one of the most significant moments in modern history. Its moral and political consequences still affect our lives.

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