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Distributed for Reaktion Books

The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road

In 2006 a long-forgotten canister of film was discovered in a church in Devon, a county located in the southwestern corner of the United Kingdom. No one knew how it had gotten there, but its contents were tantalizing—the grainy black and white footage showed members of the German SS and police building a road in Ukraine and Crimea in 1943. The BBC caused a sensation when it aired the footage, but the film gave few clues to the protagonists or their task.

World War II historian G. H. Bennett pieces together the story of the film and its principal characters in The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road. In his search for answers, Bennett unearthed an overlooked chapter of the Holocaust: a wartime German road-building project led by Walter Gieseke, the Nazi policeman who ended up running the SS task force, that served the dual purpose of exterminating Jewish and other lives while laying the infrastructure for a utopian Nazi haven in the Ukraine. Bennett tells the story of the road and its builders through the experiences of Arnold Daghani, a Romanian artist who was one of the few Jewish laborers to survive the project. Daghani describes the brutal treatment he endured, as well as the beating, torture, and murder of his fellow laborers by the Nazis, and his postwar efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Recovering an important but lost episode in the history of World War II and the Holocaust, The Nazi, the Painter and the Forgotten Story of the SS Road is a moving and at times horrifying chronicle of suffering, deprivation, and survival.

240 pages | 27 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2012

History: European History

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“Bennett writes very well. . . . An engaging book, which should be welcomed for shedding light on a little-known chapter of the wider holocaust.”

BBC History Magazine

“An excellent account of an episode that brings together the Holocaust and Nazi plans for the Ukraine. Truly impressive use of new material. The purposes as well as cruelty of Nazi road-building emerges clearly. Very harsh conditions for the enslaved workers. The dependence of Nazi plans on the flow of war is also a clear conclusion.”

The Historical Association

“This surprising and artful book mixes the history of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine and of the Holocaust with present perspectives. It entertains and enriches our understanding of a terrible time.”

Richard Breitman, author of The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Sol

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Puzzling Reel of Film
1. Marching Eastwards
2. The Aryan Imperial Dream
3. The Master Race in Control
4. Putting Names to Faces
5. The Fat Man Identified
6. Durchgangstrasse IV: Highway of the SS
7. The Film-makers
8. The Romanian Connection
9. The End of the Road
10. The Cry for Justice
11. Beyond Earthly Justice

Sources and Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

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