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After reviewing what others have published about the camps and explaining why previous romanticized views must be corrected, Hermand provides background into the creation and development of the camps. He then devotes one chapter apiece to each of the five different camps to which he was sent: Kirchenpopowo, San Remo, Gross Ottingen, Silesia, and Sulmierschutz. Each was quite different from the other, he writes, and almost every form of behavior existed at each place.The children did sometimes find, with certain adults, parental solicitude, belief in the inherent goodness of human beings, and naive idealism, but by and large they encountered fascistic indoctrination, dreary routine, conscious brutalization, and the worst sort of sadism.
In the two final chapters, Hermand focuses on the postwar consequences of his camp experiences for his own development, and his return visit in 1991 to some of the sites. In these chapters, as in the rest of the book, Hermand carefully and skillfully combines his personal story with an analysis of the overall purpose of the camps.
An intelligent and persuasive document, this book should be read by anyone interested in psychology, the history of everyday life, and in the story of Germany under Hitler.
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