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Nazi Collaborators: The True Stories of the Nazi Conspirators

 Directed by Jean-François Delassus. 4 discs, $20.

 Maintaining the Nazi death grip on the Reich’s far-flung occupied lands partly depended on a patch-quilt network of regional and national leaders and groups willing to cooperate with their new overlords. France’s Pierre Laval, Norway’s Vidkun Quisling, Belgium’s Leon Degrelle, the Netherlands’ Anton Adriaan Mussert, Latvia’s Viktor Arajs, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had strikingly diverse motives for collaborating— sometimes understandable, often utterly repugnant. These ranged across a huge gamut—ideological fanaticism, blind ambition, crass opportunism, self-protection, family and tribal loyalties, patriotism, and of course hatred and fear of the Allies, Jews, and Slavs—that reflects humanity’s remarkable and disturbing malleability. How else to explain the full-blooded Jews and Mischlinger (half- and quarter-Jews) who joined the Wehrmacht, and even the Waffen SS? Of course, as evidenced by the Warsaw Ghetto Jews under the Nazi-backed leadership of Chaim Rumkowski, some were simply trying to increase their odds of survival.

This eye-opening British series traces how people make choices, even when faced with what we, in comfortable retrospect, view as unassailable moral imperatives. And it generally does so with unflinching honesty, welcome acuity, and historical rigor.


Originally published in the April 2012 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.