"A tale drenched in drama and blood, heroism and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal."—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post
The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Third Reich in January 1945. Frenzied by their terrible experiences with Wehrmacht and SS brutality, they wreaked havoc—tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rape, pillage, and unimaginable destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women and children froze to death or were massacred; more than seven million fled westward from the fury of the Red Army. It was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known.
Antony Beevor, renowned author of D-Day and The Battle of Arnhem, has reconstructed the experiences of those millions caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich's final collapse. The Fall of Berlin is a terrible story of pride, stupidity, fanaticism, revenge, and savagery, yet it is also one of astonishing endurance, self-sacrifice, and survival against all odds.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Antony Beevor was educated at Winchester and Sandhurst. A regular officer in the 11th Hussars, he served in Germany and England. He has published several novels, and his works of nonfiction include The Spanish Civil War; Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, which won the 1993 Runciman Award; Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege: 1942—1943; and Berlin: The Downfall, 1945. With his wife, Artemis Cooper, he wrote Paris: After the Liberation: 1944—1949. His book Stalingrad was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Wolfson History Prize, and the Hawthornden Prize in 1999.
Read an Excerpt
THE FALL OF BERLIN 1945
By Antony Beevor
Copyright © 2002 Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper.
All rights reserved.
Berlin in the New Year
Berliners, gaunt from short rations and stress, had little to celebrate at Christmas in 1944. Much of the capital of the Reich had been reduced to rubble by bombing raids. The Berlin talent for black jokes had turned to gallows humour. The quip of that unfestive season was, 'Be practical: give a coffin.'
The mood in Germany had changed exactly two years before. Rumours had begun to circulate just before Christmas 1942 that General Paulus's Sixth Army had been encircled on the Volga by the Red Army. The Nazi regime found it hard to admit that the largest formation in the whole of the Wehrmacht was doomed to annihilation in the ruins of Stalingrad and in the frozen steppe outside. To prepare the country for bad news, Joseph Goebbels, the Reichsminister for Propaganda and Enlightenment, had announced a 'German Christmas', which in National Socialist terms meant austerity and ideological determination, not candles and pine wreathes and singing 'Heilige Nacht'. By 1944, the traditional roast goose had become a distant memory.
In streets where the façade of a house had collapsed, pictures could still be seen hanging on the walls of what had been a sitting room or bedroom. The actress Hildegard Knef gazed at a piano left exposed on the remnants of a floor. Nobody could get to it, and she wondered how long it would be before it tumbled down to join the rubble below. Messages from families were scrawled on gutted buildings to tell a son returning from the front that they were all right and staying elsewhere. Nazi Party notices warned, 'Looters will be punished with death!'
Air raids were so frequent, with the British by night and the Americans by day, that Berliners felt that they spent more time in cellars and air-raid shelters than in their own beds. The lack of sleep contributed to the strange mixture of suppressed hysteria and fatalism. Far fewer people seemed to worry about being denounced to the Gestapo for defeatism, as the rash of jokes indicated. The ubiquitous initials LSR for Luftschutzraum, or air-raid shelter, were said to stand for 'Lernt schnell Russisch': 'Learn Russian quickly'. Most Berliners had entirely dropped the 'Heil Hitler!' greeting. When Lothar Loewe, a Hitler Youth who had been away from the city, used it on entering a shop, everyone turned and stared at him. It was the last time he uttered the words when not on duty. Loewe found that the most common greeting had become 'Bleib übrig!' 'Survive!'
The humour also reflected the grotesque, sometimes surreal, images of the time. The largest air-raid construction in Berlin was the Zoo bunker, a vast ferro-concrete fortress of the totalitarian age, with flak batteries on the roof and huge shelters below, into which crowds of Berliners packed when the sirens sounded. The diarist Ursula von Kardorff described it as 'like a stage-set for the prison scene in Fidelio'. Meanwhile, loving couples embraced on concrete spiral staircases as if taking part in a 'travesty of a fancy-dress ball'.
There was a pervasive atmosphere of impending downfall in personal lives as much as in the nation's existence. People spent their money recklessly, half-assuming that it would soon be worthless. And there were stories, although hard to confirm, of girls and young women coupling with strangers in dark corners around the Zoo station and in the Tiergarten. The desire to dispense with innocence is said to have become even more desperate later as the Red Army approached Berlin.
The air-raid shelters themselves, lit with blue lights, could indeed provide a foretaste of claustrophobic hell, as people pushed in bundled in their warmest clothes and carrying small cardboard suitcases containing sandwiches and thermos. In theory, all basic needs were catered for in the shelters. There was a Sanitätsraum with a nurse, where women could go into labour. Childbirth seemed to be accelerated by the vibrations from bomb explosions, which felt as if they came as much from the centre of the earth as from ground level. The ceilings were painted with luminous paint for the frequent occasions during the air raids when the lights failed, first dimming then flickering off. Water supplies ceased when mains were hit, and the Aborte, or lavatories, soon became disgusting, a real distress for a nation preoccupied with hygiene. Often the lavatories were sealed off by the authorities because there were so many cases of depressed people who, having locked the door, committed suicide.
For a population of around 3 million, Berlin did not have enough shelters, so they were usually overcrowded. In the main corridors, seating halls and bunk rooms, the air was foul from over-use and condensation dripped from the ceilings. The complex of shelters under the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn station had been designed to take 1,500 people, yet often more than three times that number packed in. Candles were used to measure the diminishing levels of oxygen. When a candle placed on the floor went out, children were picked up and held at shoulder height. When a candle on a chair went out, then the evacuation of the level began. And if a third candle, positioned at about chin level, began to sputter, then the whole bunker was evacuated, however heavy the attack above.
The foreign workers in Berlin, 300,000 strong and identifiable by a letter painted on their clothes to denote their country of origin, were simply forbidden entry to underground bunkers and cellars. This was partly an extension of the Nazi policy to stop them mingling intimately with the German race, but the overriding concern of the authorities was to save the lives of Germans. A forced labourer, particularly an 'Ostarbeiter', or eastern worker, most of whom had been rounded up in the Ukraine and Belorussia, was regarded as expendable. Yet many foreign workers, conscripted as well as volunteers, enjoyed a far greater degree of freedom than the unfortunates consigned to camps. Those who worked in armaments factories around the capital, for example, had created their own refuge and Bohemian subculture with newssheets and plays in the depths of the Friedrichstrasse station. Their spirits were rising visibly as the Red Army advanced, while those of their exploiters fell. Most Germans looked on foreign workers with trepidation. They saw them as a Trojan Horse garrison ready to attack and revenge themselves as soon as the enemy armies approached the city.
Berliners suffered from an atavistic and visceral fear of the Slav invader from the east. Fear was easily turned to hate. As the Red Army approached, Goebbels's propaganda harked on again and again about the atrocities at Nemmersdorf, when Red Army troops had invaded the south-eastern corner of East Prussia the previous autumn and raped and murdered inhabitants of this village.
Some people had their own reasons for refusing to take shelter during a bombing raid. A married man who used to visit his mistress regularly in the district of Prenzlauerberg could not go down to the communal cellar because that would have aroused suspicions. One evening, the building received a direct hit, and the luckless adulterer, who had been sitting on a sofa, was buried up to his neck in rubble. After the raid, a boy called Erich Schmidtke and a Czech labourer whose illegal presence in the cellar had been tolerated heard his screams of pain and ran upstairs towards the sound. After he had been dug out and carried off for treatment, the fourteen-year-old Erich then had to go to tell the injured man's wife that her husband had been badly injured in this other woman's flat. She started screaming in anger. The fact that he had been with this woman agitated her far more than his fate. Children in those times received a harsh introduction to the realities of the adult world.
General Günther Blumentritt, like most of those in authority, was convinced that the bombing raids on Germany produced a real 'Volksgenossenschaft' or 'patriotic comradeship'. This may well have been true in 1942 and 1943, but by late 1944 the effect tended to polarize opinion between the hardliners and the war-weary. Berlin had been the city with the highest proportion of opponents to the Nazi regime, as its voting records before 1933 indicate. But with the exception of a very small and courageous minority, opposition to the Nazis had generally been limited to gibes and grumbles. The majority had been genuinely horrified by the assassination attempt against Hitler on 20 July 1944. And as the Reich's frontiers became threatened both in the east and in the west, they drank in Goebbels's stream of lies that the Führer would unleash new 'wonder weapons' against their enemies, as if he were about to assume the role of a wrathful Jupiter flinging thunderbolts as a symbol of his power.
A letter written by a wife to her husband in a French prison camp reveals the embattled mentality and the readiness to believe the regime's propaganda. 'I have such faith in our destiny,' she wrote, 'that nothing can shake a confidence which is born from our long history, from our glorious past, as Dr Goebbels says. It's impossible that things turn out differently. We may have reached a very low point at this moment, but we have men who are decisive. The whole country is ready to march, weapons in hand. We have secret weapons which will be used at the chosen moment, and we have above all a Führer whom we can follow with our eyes closed. Don't allow yourself to be beaten down, you must not at any price.'
The Ardennes offensive, launched on 16 December 1944, intoxicated Hitler loyalists with revived morale. The tables had at last turned. Belief in the Führer and in the Wunderwaffen, the miracle weapons such as the V-2, blinded them to reality. Rumours spread that the US First Army had been completely surrounded and taken prisoner due to an anaesthetic gas. They thought that they could hold the world to ransom and take revenge for all that Germany had suffered. Veteran NCOs appear to have been among the most embittered. Paris was about to be recaptured, they told each other with fierce glee. Many regretted that the French capital should have been spared from destruction the year before while Berlin was bombed to ruins. They exulted at the idea that history might now be corrected.
The German Army's high command did not share this enthusiasm for the offensive in the west. General staff officers feared that Hitler's strategic coup against the Americans in the Ardennes would weaken the Eastern Front at a decisive moment. The plan was in any case vastly over-ambitious. The operation was spearheaded by the Sixth SS Panzer Army of Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich and the Fifth Panzer Army of General Hasso von Manteuffel. Yet the lack of fuel made it extremely unlikely that they would ever reach their objective of Antwerp, the Western Allies' main supply base.
Hitler was fixated by dreams of dramatically reversing the fortunes of war and forcing Roosevelt and Churchill to come to terms. He had decisively rejected any suggestion of overtures to the Soviet Union, partly for the sound reason that Stalin was interested only in the destruction of Nazi Germany, but there was also a fundamental impediment. Hitler suffered from an atrocious personal vanity. He could not be seen to sue for peace when Germany was losing. A victory in the Ardennes was therefore vital for every reason. But American doggedness in defence, especially at Bastogne, and the massive deployment of Allied air power once the weather cleared, broke the momentum of attack within a week.
On Christmas Eve, General Heinz Guderian, the chief of the army supreme command, OKH, drove in his large Mercedes staff car to Führer headquarters in the west. After abandoning the Wolfsschanze, or 'Wolf's Lair', in East Prussia on 20 November 1944, Hitler had moved to Berlin for a minor operation on his throat. He had then left the capital on the evening of 10 December in his personal armoured train. His destination was another secret and camouflaged complex in woods near Ziegenberg, less than forty kilometres from Frankfurt am Main. Designated the Adlerhorst, or 'Eagle's Eyrie', it was the last of his field headquarters to be known by codenames which reeked of puerile fantasy.
Guderian, the great theorist of tank warfare, had known the dangers of such an operation from the start, but he had little say in the matter. Although the OKH was responsible for the Eastern Front it was never allowed a free hand. The OKW, the high command of the Wehrmacht (all the armed forces), was responsible for operations outside the Eastern Front. Both organizations were based just south of Berlin in neighbouring underground complexes at Zossen.
Despite having as quick a temper as Hitler, Guderian was very different in outlook. He had little time for an entirely speculative international strategy when the country was under attack from both sides. Instead, he relied on a soldier's instinct for the point of maximum danger. There was no doubt where that lay. His briefcase contained the intelligence analysis of General Reinhard Gehlen, the head of Fremde Heere Ost, the military intelligence department for the Eastern Front. Gehlen calculated that around 12 January the Red Army would launch a massive attack from the line of the River Vistula. His department estimated that the enemy had a superiority of eleven to one in infantry, seven to one in tanks and twenty to one in artillery and also in aviation.
Guderian entered the conference room at the Adlerhorst to find himself facing Hitler and his military staff, and also Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer SS who, after the July plot, had also been made commander of the Replacement Army. Every member of Hitler's military staff had been selected for his unquestioning loyalty. Field Marshal Keitel, the chief of staff of the OKW, was famous for his pompous servility to Hitler. Exasperated army officers referred to him either as the 'Reich's garage attendant' or the 'nodding donkey'. Colonel General Jodl, who had a cold, hard face, was far more competent than Keitel, yet he hardly ever opposed the Führer's disastrous attempts to control every battalion. He had very nearly been dismissed in the autumn of 1942 for having dared to contradict his master. General Burgdorf, Hitler's chief military adjutant and chief of the army personnel department controlling all appointments, had replaced the devoted General Schmundt, mortally wounded by Stauffenberg's bomb at the Wolfsschanze. Burgdorf was the man who had delivered the poison to Field Marshal Rommel, with the ultimatum to commit suicide.
Using the findings of Gehlen's intelligence department, Guderian outlined the Red Army's build-up for a huge offensive in the east. He warned that the attack would take place within three weeks and requested that, since the Ardennes offensive had now ground to a halt, as many divisions as possible should be withdrawn for redeployment on the Vistula front. Hitler stopped him. He declared that such estimates of enemy strength were preposterous. Soviet rifle divisions never had more than 7,000 men each. Their tank corps had hardly any tanks. 'It's the greatest imposture since Genghis Khan,' he shouted, working himself up. 'Who is responsible for producing all this rubbish?'
Guderian resisted the temptation to reply that it was Hitler himself who talked of German 'armies' when they were the size of a single corps, and of 'infantry divisions' reduced to battalion strength. Instead, he defended Gehlen's figures. To his horror, General Jodl argued that the offensive in the west should continue with further attacks. Since this was exactly what Hitler wanted, Guderian was thwarted. It was even more provoking for him to have to listen at dinner to the verdict of Himmler, who revelled in his new role of military leader. He had recently been made army group commander on the upper Rhine in addition to his other appointments. 'You know, my dear Colonel General,' he said to Guderian, 'I don't really believe that the Russians will attack at all. It's all an enormous bluff.'
Excerpted from THE FALL OF BERLIN 1945 by Antony Beevor. Copyright © 2002 by Antony Beevor and Artemis Cooper. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
The Fall Of Berlin 1945List of Illustrations
1. Berlin in the New Year
2. The 'House of Cards' on the Vistula
3. Fire and Sword and 'Noble Fury'
4. The Great Winter Offensive
5. The Charge to the Oder
6. East and West
7. Clearing the Rear Areas
8. Pomerania and the Older Bridgeheads
9. Objective Berlin
10. The Kamarilla and the General Staff
11. Preparing the Coup de Grâce
12. Waiting for the Onslaught
13. Americans on the Elbe
14. Eve of Battle
15. Zhukov on the Reitwein Spur
16. Seelow and the Spree
17. The Führer's Last Birthday
18. The Flight of the Golden Pheasants
19. The Bombarded City
20. False Hopes
21. Fighting in the City
22. Figthing in the Forest
23. The Betrayal of the Will
25. Reich Chancellery and Reichstag
26. The End of the Battle
27. Vae Victis!
28. The Man on the White Horse
What People are Saying About This
"There was no more hellish place on earth than Berlin in 1944...[and] Beevor has created haunting images of the war's final days." —The New York Times Book Review
"Beevor is...a superb writer, a diligent researcher and a master of battlefield detail." —The Chicago Tribune
"A tale drenched in drama and blood, heroism and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal." —Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post
"Antony Beevor is a British historian of great distinction and range, who has written widely on military affairs in the twentieth century. His history of the battle of Stalingrad was awarded the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the Wolfson History Prize and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature. To write a successor to that excellent chronicle of the savagery of modern warfare could not have been easy. . . But Beevor once more demonstrates his mastery of his sources, including newly discovered material from Soviet archives, and his skill in describing complicated operations." —Gordon Craig in the New York Review of Books.
"A quite splendid book, one which combines a calm and scholarly narrative with an unrelenting moral indignation at what he has uncovered. It stands as a superbly lucid examination of one of the most dreadful battles in world history." —Kevin Myers in the Irish Times.
"With [the Red Army] travels Antony Beevor—understanding the wider strategic issues as well as feeling the plight of the simple soldiers of both sides, in this mother of all battles, carrying on his back an imposing pack of research as well as compassion. His majestic earlier book, Stalingrad, equips him to be the essential concomitant to write this final battle." —Alistair Horne in The Times (London).
"As in his Stalingrad, Antony Beevor skilfully combines the big picture of the developing strategic situation with a sense of the extraordinary experiences on the ground . . . The strength of The Fall of Berlin 1945 is an irresistibly compelling narrative, of events so terrible that they still have the power, more than half a century on, to provoke wonder and awe." —Adam Sisman in the Observer.
"An impressive contribution. . . packed with stories about soldiers and civilians at the extremes of human experience, Berlin excites and informs." —The Economist
"In Stalingrad Beevor gave us a riveting account of that crucial fearful battle, when Hitler’s forces met their match. . . Beevor deploys the same successful techniques in Berlin. He combines a soldier’s understanding of war’s realities with a novelist’s eye for symbolic and emotional detail. Nobody will forget the artillerists who kept their mouths open to stop their ear drums bursting as they fired their guns; the little boys in Landsberg who played war games with wooden swords amid the bombed-out ruins of their house; or the rhodedendrons that were coming into bloom as mortar-fire rained down on Berlin, darkening the street with smoke and dust. Beevor paints a terrifying picture." —Orlando Figes in the Sunday Times (London)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a well researched and written account of the fall of Berlin. It fills a void somewhere between Cornelius Ryan's 'The Last Battle' (excellent for the casual historian) and Read and Fisher's 'The Fall of Berlin' (a more detailed and lengthy account). It's good mesh of historical background and personal experiences from the battle. Most of the criticisms I have read about the book seem more motivated by a 'Politically Correct' approach to history than by the truth. German atrocities throughout the war are well documented and are not the focus of this book. The Red Army DID (by all accounts save their own) engage in widespread rape and looting in eastern Germany and Berlin. Beevor gives a balanced account - he does not glorify German resistance, Nazism, or the Soviet advance. He simply tells what happened. Rape is a predominant theme in the book, but it was a predominant concern of the German women, and a fact of the war. This is a solid piece of work on one of the greatest human dramas in history. Don't let those with a hidden agenda steer away from this book.
Good read with new and interesting information especially relating to Russian Forces engaged in this final battle ....... Rp
A chillingly readable glimpse into a different world.
Beevor is one of the best historians of his time. He strikes a nice balance between the staff officer¿s view of things on a map and vivid first person accounts. Unlike less skilled writers (like Ambrose) he does not take first person accounts as gospel or pick sides.It is shocking to read people that call this book pro-German. He begins by saying that the true nature of a regime is clear when it ends. While some may dislike the depiction of the German¿s as victims, many of them were victimized. The people of Berlin suffered at the hands of the Nazis who forced children to fight and hung anyone that tried to save themselves. They were victimized by the Soviets, even German communists released from concentration camps were abused by Stalin¿s men. Beevor makes no secret, and pulls no punches. Germany started the war. Germans loved Hitler. Germany attacked Russia. German treatment of Russians civilians lead to the horrific reprisals in Germany. He inishes the book about the curious, morally corrupt explanations almost all Germans offered for the war.Simply a great book. A familiar subject but well written and enhanced with some information from Russia not available 20 years ago.
In this excellent follow up to Beevor's 'Stalingrad', Beevor details the final collapse of Nazi Germany and the Soviet advance on Berlin. This was the climax of a war of annihilation, and this is relayed in the gripping if not gruesome accounts relayed in the book. As with Beevor's 'Stalingrad', his access to formerly closed Soviet records provides this book with a depth that humanizes the battle for Berlin, from both sides, by providing a man-on-the-ground feel to the narrative. One may wonder why such savagery took place, but by the time Beevor's narrative is in full flow depicting the siege of Berlin, the motivations of the participants is understandable, as hard as it may be to relate to the degrees of animosity displayed on the Eastern Front of WWII. A fascinating illumination in this book is the inside look to the Soviet command, and the way in which Stalin's system of command motivated heartless waste of life for the sake of competition and hubris. A great book in its own right, 'The Fall of Berlin 1945' reads even better alongside Beevor's 'Stalingrad'.
Not for the squeamish. Hitler sacrifices Berlin in the face of certain defeat. I read it to try to gain some insight into what my father-in-law's experience might have been like (he was 14 years old and just trying to survive). I think it's hard for Americans to understand suffering at these levels (and did all those women and children deserve it?). Obviously, Roosevelt blew it by not letting our troops liberate Berlin -- did he realize what would happen?
Having read - and been gripped by - Stalingrad, I had to read this. Two sides of the same coin. Painstakingly researched and clearly written. This is a superb book that I heartily recommend
Six out of ten.
A complete history of the last months of World War Two. As the Russians and the Allies closed in on Berlin, this book examines how it affected the lives of ordinary Berliners as well as those still clinging to the power of the Third Reich.
You really feel the despair of the Berliners in this book. After a lifetime avidly consuming films and books celebrating the battle with the Nazis where 1945 was the sensational finale it was a slap in the face to see the view from the other side. I really empathized with the Berliners and could sense the 'end of the world' that they were facing. The book also conveyed a sense of the pathetic as the mighty war machine that threatened us all could hardly manage to find the fuel for a single tank leading escaping civilians to safety. This book affected the way I think and feel about our security.
A nightmare account of revenge and how two systems can clash in a way that causes the destruction of civilian life. Great on characters and tactics. And, as with Stalingrad, the big picture is effortlessly infused with small details that make it breath.
Very good indeed and well balanced despite what a previous reviewer may have thought. Im not quite sure what sympathising with human tragedy has to do with being pro-Nazi but, hey, maybe thats just me. I suspect not though...
I have read 3 of Beevors books, all of which are comprehensive in their ability to describe battles from the level of the leaders and strategic planning down to the experiences of the individual soldiers. I have enjoyed them all. I gave this a 4.5 and not a 5, not because of the writing but because the subject matter is not as intriguing to me as in his book 'Stalingrad'. This book doesn't have the ebb and flow of a hotly contested battle, but is more the continued destruction of the German army along the eastern front, and for that reason is a bit less gripping than 'Stalingrad'.
Another brilliantly managed & expertly detailed study by Beevor. I read this after being so impressed by his books on the Spanish Civil War & Stalingrad & wasn't disappointed. 26/3/08
Anthony Beevor excels himself once more with this excellent account of Berlin during the terrible days of 1945. He expertly captures both the view from inside the city, and within the advancing Russian and American troops, without ever sensationalising, nor playing down the tragedy. The human cost is counted as much as it ever can be, and the book abounds with vignettes of 'everyday life' for those trapped in the city. An absolute must-read.
This book is very riveting account of the final months of the way and the Battle of Berlin. This book masterfully blends troop numbers, casualties, units etc… and all sorts of figures, with personal anecdotes ranging from Soviet soldier’s, to civilians, to Hitler. I think Mr. Beevor does a great job at telling the story of the chaos, barbarity and utter devastation that was the last major European battle in World War II. However, Beevor’s book is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes in both English and German that the editors should have corrected. That is a little nitpicky, but it was a little annoying. There are also very few notes. Also, the Nook ebook version keeps crashing. It isn’t a crash here and there, but almost after 30 pages it freezes and crashes. I have to reboot my Nook and when I open this book I find that the Nook has lost my page and is on an earlier stopping point. I have not had this much trouble from any other ebook on my nook. This is very annoying. However, overall I would say the book’s content is a 4.5, but the constant crashing lowers that score a lot.
This book is in my view one of the best books ever written about World War II. The book reads great and covers all angles related to the fall of Berlin to the Russians. More than just talking about the battles it creates a picture in your mind of what it must have been like to be a Russian or German soldier or civilian in East Prussia, Prussia and Germany; especially a woman knowing the Russians were seeking revenge and out of control for the German atrocities in the Ukraine and Russia...I could not put it down. Buy it.
Provides realistic impression overall I would recommend this book to anyone. Of all books I read so far about the last year of WWII, this one I think is the closest to reality. It is basically in line with what I have heard from the veterans. If you want to get a good general understanding or feel about WWII in West Europe, please read this book. One caveat: it seems the author loathes the Soviets so much; it makes him to somewhat unconsciously favor the defendants over the attackers. For example, on one hand, the report of the Soviet ‘530-th Artillery Regiment leaving in front of their position 1800 German soldiers, nine burnt-out tanks, and seven half-tracks’ is called ‘an exaggerated claim’. On the other hand, the German report of just one soldier ‘untersharffuhrer SS Eugene Vanlot destroyed ten T-34 tanks in one(!) day’ is taken for granted. Also it’s hard to believe in that SS volunteers from Norway, France, Denmark, Holland, Flanders were in any way ‘motivated by their visceral hatred of Bolshevism’. This can’t be true, because they had never experienced any of the horrors of Soviet communism in their countries
gets dense and dull but pretty good
Good detail. High in military facts. Lacking compassionate writing. Doesn't compare to Jon Toland's "The Last 10 Days of World War II."