Book Review

Nazi Wives

Nazi Wives: The Women at the Top of Hitler’s Germany

James Wyllie

St. Martin’s Press, Nov 2020, 320 pages

Provided by Pub via Netgalley

Historical Novel


I love the cover. The way the black and white photos of the women are arranged creates the appearance somewhat of a swastika without actually using one. It encloses the women and makes them complicit just as the men in Hitler’s group were, their husbands. They were just as bad as their husbands in the way they treated the people under their control.

Parts of this read like a novel and great parts of this read like history, so I’m calling it a historical novel, though I don’t think that’s how the author intended it. It appears to be well researched. Mr. Wylie was talking about the senior military wives and the young women socially in Hitler’s circle; well, he certainly went in circles. So much so that at times I wasn’t sure who he was talking about. Ilsa, Magda, Gerda, Hedwig, and the list goes on and on. So many for a man who was said to not feel comfortable around women. Well, Mr. Wylie rounds them all up and shines a light on many things that were never meant to see the light of day. And it wasn’t just the anti-semitism, but the total lack of caring for their fellow man. While others were living like animals, starving, they were demanding and getting French couture and perfumes, make-up and beauty supplies, wines and alcoholic beverages, and all their usual foods. They also had fully staffed houses, chauffeur driver cars, and bodyguards. Of course, their houses were staffed from the work camps and they could treat them any way they wished. When they wore out staff, they simply replaced them from the camp. No questions asked. No one cared. They not only betrayed their fellow man, but they also betrayed each other at times, their husbands. In the end, many of them ate cyanide capsules rather than face punishment. Others went through the process and wanted sympathy because they weren’t allowed to see their husbands while they were in prison. They were a strange group all told. The book was interesting if at times confusing as to who was who. It’s not a group I want to know any more about. Recommended.

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