Grant T. Harward, "Romania's Holy War: Soldiers, Motivation, and the Holocaust" (Cornell UP, 2021)


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What motivated conscripted soldiers to fight in the Romanian Army during the Second World War? Why did they obey orders, take risks, and sometimes deliberately sacrifice their lives for the mission? What made soldiers murder, rape, and pillage, massacring Jews en masse during Operation Barbarossa? Grant Harward’s ground-breaking book Romania's Holy War: Soldiers, Motivation, and the Holocaust (Cornell UP, 2021) combines military history, social history, and histories of the Holocaust to offer a new interpretation of Romania’s role in the Second World War. In this interview he talks about his surprising discussions with veterans, his notion of “atrocity motivation” as an unexplored reason why soldiers commit horrific acts during wartime, the relative military effectiveness of the Romanian army, the role of the Orthodox Church, and the content of propaganda aimed at soldiers. As he explains, Harward’s research opens up whole new fields of research for military historians and others interested in the relationship of war to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and violence.

Roland Clark is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Liverpool, President of the Society for Romanian Studies, and a Senior Fellow with the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right.

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