The End: Hitlers Germany, 1944-45 Ian Kershaw

ISBN: 9780141014210

Published: 2012


564 pages


The End: Hitlers Germany, 1944-45  by  Ian Kershaw

The End: Hitlers Germany, 1944-45 by Ian Kershaw
2012 | Paperback | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, talking book, mp3, ZIP | 564 pages | ISBN: 9780141014210 | 6.23 Mb

These 400 pages are like a single chord with six notes, horror, terror, death, pain, ruin and obedience. You will have observed the absence of pity and mercy. I wonder whether we – I – read this account of the last year of the Third Reich in the spirit of revenge, in some distant vicarious sense, because this is where the Nazis finally got what was coming to them.

So it could be the one to read straight after Hitlers Willing Executioners or a viewing of Claude Lanzmanns documentary Shoah. And who wouldnt wish those perpetrators to suffer. And suffer they did, especially the ones who didnt die quickly.The End is simply a catalogue of German torment. Its amazingly repetitive. Heres a core sample - some phrases, adverbs and adjectives from three random pages:P 150 : raging inferno- misery of the population- deprived of all amenities- primitive conditions- little more than holes in the ground- grim-faced- bitter cold- contempt- delusion- starting to flake- crisis in confidence- failedP250: no heroic defence- desperate refugees- wounded civilians- broken, then crushed- 143,000 officers and men killed, wounded or missing- battered forcesP350 : the misery- so cowardly- like sheep to the slaughter- hatred is blazing- increasingly desperate fight- process of liquidation- a futile aimYou could take a similar sample from any three other pages and get the same result.

It becomes numbing. I wonder how Ian Kershaw could have dragged himself through the writing of this book. Yet in interviews he seems fairly cheerful. Glad to be rid of it, perhaps.The fascination with Nazi Germany which I share with a lot of people is easily explained. It has a personal element. Germany in the Thirties was just like England in the Thirties. The people there had my fathers and my mothers faces. Germans wrote great books and composed music and made movies and drank strong beer and everything. So when they went collectively insane, and these astonishing, horrifying racist visions erupted out of their hearts and minds, and they turned their brilliant energies to the business of taking over all the rest of Europe and wiping out an entire other race right down to the last tiny child, the question is obvious : they were just like us, so could all that have happened here?

In England? In America? In France? If not, were the Germans in the Thirties and Forties all psychopaths? Obviously not. So what happened? And after the Gotterdammerung of 1945, did they all revert back to being the normal ordinary Germans we had before Hitler? Like waking up from some hypnotic spell or terrible drunken bender and finding a couple of dead bodies in the room and saying no, I couldnt have done that – that wasnt me!

But it was.The Germans (and we can use that term because everyone was involved) fought to the bitterest of all bitter ends, until the last bulletless Walther was prised from the last 14 year old boys dead hand. Kershaw in his introduction makes a song and dance about why in the face of all the overwhelming power of the Allies in late 44 or early 45 did the Germans not capitulate?

But it is very easy to see why. For a start, Goebbels propaganda about the ravening Bolshevik hordes from the East turned out to be true. Germans knew what had been perpetrated during Operation Barbarossa, that their army had been the combine harvester of human agony, and so did the Russians. For the Red Army, as they invaded from the East, it was white hot payback time – civilian slaughter, routine rapes, you name it. Soviet propaganda : Take merciless revenge on the Fascist child-murderers and executioners, pay them back for the blood and tears of Soviet mothers and children.

To the West, from the gentler sensibilities of the British and Americans, came carpet bombing. The bombing campaigns altogether killed approximately 500,000 people. So if these things did not convince you to continue fighting, maybe this would :EXECUTIONS FOR DESERTION – A COMPARISONGerman soldiers executed for desertion in the First World War : 48British soldiers executed for desertion in the First World War : 306British soldiers executed for desertion in the second World War : 40French soldiers executed for desertion in the second World War : 103American soldiers executed for desertion in the second World War : 146German soldiers executed for desertion in the second World War : approximately 20,000.There was another more prosaic line of reason, if you could find any reason at all in this lunatic final year.

Germans believed – correctly – that the Western governments hated communism as much as they did, and they figured that if they could stave off an invasion of central Germany long enough, the Americans and British would realise that the true enemy was not Germany but the USSR. So that was the vague, mad, stupid hope. And as we know, Patton wanted to roll the tanks on from Berlin to Moscow, so there was something in it.GERMAN VOICES FROM DIARIES AND LETTERS 1944-45Injured soldier writing home : I believe for certain that a change will soon come.

On no account will we capitulate! That so much blood has already been spilt in this freedom fight cannot be in vain!Lt Julius Dufner : We want to build a new Europe – we, the young people facing the old! But what are we? Famished, exhausted and drained by madmen. Poor and tired, worn out and nerve-ridden.Martin Bormann writing to his wife: Anyone who still grants that we have a chance must be a great optimist! And that is just what we are! I just cannot believe that Destiny could have let our people and our Fuhrer so far along this wonderful road only to abandon us now and see us disappear forever.

A victory for Bolshevism and Americanism would mean not only the extermination of our race but also the destruction of everything that its culture and civilisation has created.As we know, the Soviet army surrounded Berlin in late April 1945 and battled its way in, street by street. By the time they reached the Chancellery Hitler had committed suicide. Curiously, this review was written on the day another dictator finally met his death, after his own city was taken street by street.

But Gaddafi was hunted down and executed by the people of Libya. They liberated themselves. In Germany in 1945 there was no liberation, no one danced in the streets that the beast was dead, they were all conserving their energies which they knew they would need to fend off their own growing guilt and horror in having been a supporter and participant in the thing called Nazi Germany.

For those looking for the triumph of the human spirit or democracy or something uplifting like that, avoid this book. The story it tells isnt anything like that.

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