Empire of Destruction A History of Nazi Mass Killing Alex J. Kay

Publication date:
28 Sep 2021
Yale University Press
400 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 b-w illus. + 1 map
Sales territories:

Buy this eBook

You can purchase this title from a number of online retailers:

The first integrative history of Nazi mass killing—showing how policies of mass murder were crucial to the regime’s strategy to win the war

Nazi Germany killed approximately thirteen million civilians and other noncombatants in deliberate policies of mass murder, overwhelmingly during the war years. Almost half the victims were Jewish, systematically destroyed in the Holocaust, the core of the Nazis’ pan-European racial purification program.
Alex Kay argues that the genocide of European Jewry can also be examined in the wider context of Nazi mass killing. For the first time, Kay considers Europe’s Jews alongside all other major victim groups: captive Red Army soldiers, the Soviet urban population, unarmed civilian victims of preventive terror and reprisals, the mentally and physically disabled, the European Roma, and the Polish intelligentsia. He shows how each of these groups was regarded by the Nazi regime as a potential threat to Germany’s ability to successfully wage a war for hegemony in Europe. This groundbreaking work combines the full quantitative scale of the killings with the individual horror.

Alex J. Kay is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Potsdam and a lifetime Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He has published five acclaimed books on Nazi Germany, including The Making of an SS Killer (2016).

"Building on his earlier insightful work about Nazi policies of destruction, Alex Kay now offers a powerful and empirically convincing account of German war crimes that, for the first time, brings together the history of the Holocaust and genocidal policies against other population groups in a single analytical frame. Lucid and innovative, Empire of Destruction is a major milestone."—Robert Gerwarth, author of Hitler’s Hangman

"This thought-provoking integrative history of Nazi mass killing sets up a new standard for books on Germany’s darkest period."—Sönke Neitzel, coauthor of Soldaten - On Fighting, Killing and Dying

"Alex Kay performs a great service by juxtaposing the fates of the different population groups who fell victim to Nazi persecution in a way that clarifies the Nazis' uncompromising drive to domination. The monstrous brutality and vast scale of Nazi mass murder is laid bare here unequivocally, clearly, and unflinchingly.’’—Dan Stone, author of The Liberation of the Camps

“A lucid, informative and chronologically well-organized account of Nazi violence, admirable in its effort to integrate the full range of victims of mass killings.”—Mark Roseman, author of Lives Reclaimed: A Story of Rescue and Resistance in Nazi Germany