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Bill O'Reilly "Killing the SS" Book Review

I am a major enthusiast for history of all kinds. I especially love researching and writing about the lesser known parts of history.


History Written Like a Thriller

I've read several books in the Killing series. A characteristic of these books that I've always loved is the fact they're written more like page turning novels than the typical esoteric approach get used in most history texts. Bill O'Reilly and William Dugard understand that many, if not most, history buffs are looking for interesting and compelling stories.

As a Jew who had family affected by the Holocaust, I've always had a great interest in the history surrounding the Nazi's rise to power, World War II, and the Holocaust. After reading this book, I was amazed at how much I did not know about the history surrounding the fall of the Third Reich and the fate of Nazi and SS leaders. It is a story that definitely needs more attention.

This is my first Hubpages book review. I did not want to write a typical summary and opinion piece that you could find in any newspaper. Instead, I wrote about the aspects of the book that I found most interesting and identified the exact places in the book where you could find them.

Interesting Fact #1

The Catholic Church and the Red Cross helped Nazis escape Germany.

Following World War II, the Catholic Church considered the rise of the atheist Soviet Union as one of their greatest threats. In addition, the church was looking to expand its influence in Latin America. In order to counter what it considered a major threat and expand its influence, the Vatican issued new identity papers to known Nazis. These Nazis the used these identity papers to obtain travel documents from the Red Cross called 10.100s. The 10.100s acted like passports allowing Nazis to travel out of Europe to countries in North and South America. In 1947 alone, an estimated 8,000 members of the SS safely traveled to the United States and Canada. A large number of Nazis were also able to utilize Vatican and Red Cross assistance to settle in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. The details of how this happened are in chapter 4 that begins on page 41.

Interesting Fact #2

There were many women who served in the SS.

Most people probably don't know that over 3500 women served as SS concentration camp guards. The book tells the story of Elfriede Huth, a woman who was a guard at the Ravensbruck concentration camp 50 miles north of Berlin. The books details that the SS women perpetrated cruel acts that rival the men including the murder of babies and killing prisoners with vicious attack dogs. Two of these female SS guards, Dorothea Blinz and Irma Grese were later hanged for their crimes. This story is detailed in chapter 24 that begins on page 239.

Elfriede Huth in her SS uniform with her dog

Elfriede Huth in her SS uniform with her dog

Interesting Fact #3

The CIA employed Nazis following World War II.

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With the rise communism following World War II, the CIA enlisted the services of former Nazis. Since the Nazis had first hand knowledge of Soviet and East German operations as a result of fighting the Soviets, they were used for spying and intelligence gathering operations. Nazi Klaus Barbie, known as the "Butcher of Lyon" received $1700 a month to spy for the CIA. In addition, the CIA helped Barbie escape from Europe and settle in Bolivia. In Bolivia, Barbie helped the CIA track down and assassinate communist icon Che Guevara. See page 45-46 and page 216-217 for details on this story.

Former Nazi Klaus Barbie spied for the CIA and helped them eliminate Che Guevara

Former Nazi Klaus Barbie spied for the CIA and helped them eliminate Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Che Guevara

Interesting Fact #4

A Nazi who worked to eliminate Jews later worked to protect the Jewish homeland.

Otto Skorzeny was a famed Nazi soldier who carried out missions of unbelievable danger and courage. His exploits included the rescue of Benito Mussolini from a mountain fortress. In that operation he led a team that landed gliders on a mountain plateau, stormed the building where Mussolini was being held, and spirited Mussolini out in a glider. Following the war, Skorzeny was jailed awaiting trial for various charges when he escaped and fled to Argentina.

In 1962, the Israeli intelligence agency the Mossad, recruited Skorzeny to assist them with Operation Damocles. The goal of Operation Damocles was to counter a threat posed by former German scientists who were building rockets for Egypt. Skorzeny was responsible for the deaths of at least 6 German rocket scientists. His actions resulted in the closure of the Egyptian rocket program.

Otto Skorzeny went from carrying out missions for the Nazis to working for the Israelis

Otto Skorzeny went from carrying out missions for the Nazis to working for the Israelis


George Johnson (author) from San Antonio, TX on November 26, 2018:

If you're at all into history you will love these books.

Liz Westwood from UK on November 26, 2018:

I hadn't come across this series before. Your review highlights facts that I was totally unaware of.

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