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Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany

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Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany

N/A

Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany

Wednesday 7 July
1pm

Speaker: Edward Westermann

During the Third Reich, alcohol served as both a literal and metaphorical lubricant for acts of violence and atrocity by the men of the Storm Troopers (SA), the SS, and the police. Its use and abuse was widespread among the perpetrators. The consumption of alcohol was part of a ritual that bound the perpetrators together and became a facilitator of acts of “performative masculinity,” a type of masculinity expressly linked to physical or sexual violence. Over the course of the Third Reich, scenes involving alcohol consumption and revelry among the SS and police would become a routine part of rituals of humiliation in the camps, ghettos, and killing fields of Eastern Europe. Such celebrations were not anomalous events and extended from meetings of top SS and police leaders to the rank and file celebrating at the grave sites of the victims.

The role of alcohol and celebratory ritual in the Nazi genocide of European Jews offers an important perspective on the intersection between masculinity, drinking ritual, and mass murder and it provides an important insight for evaluating the mindset, motivation, mentality of the killers as they prepared for and participated in acts of mass murder and ultimately genocide.

Edward Westermann received his Ph.D. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Regents Professor of History at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He is the author of Hitler’s Ostkrieg and the Indian Wars: Comparing Genocide and Conquest (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016), Hitler’s Police Battalions: Enforcing Racial War in the East (University Press of Kansas, 2005) and other publications on the Holocaust and military history. He has been a Fulbright Fellow, a German Academic Exchange Service Fellow on three occasions, and a Fellow at the Keene State College Genocide Studies and Genocide Prevention Program. In spring 2019, he was a Maurice C. and J.B. Shapiro Fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. He will be speaking about his recent book, Drunk on Genocide: Alcohol and Mass Murder in Nazi Germany with Cornell University Press in association with the USHMM.

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