Cover image for The end : the defiance and destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-45
Title:
The end : the defiance and destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-45
Author:
Kershaw, Ian.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Press, [2011]

©2011
Physical Description:
xxvi, 564 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
"From the preeminent Hitler biographer, a fascinating and original exploration of how the Third Reich was willing and able to fight to the bitter end of World War II. Countless books have been written about why Nazi Germany lost World War II, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the equally vital question of how and why it was able to hold out as long as it did. The Third Reich did not surrender until Germany had been left in ruins and almost completely occupied. Even in the near-apocalyptic final months, when the war was plainly lost, the Nazis refused to sue for peace. Historically, this is extremely rare. Drawing on original testimony from ordinary Germans and arch-Nazis alike, award-winning historian Ian Kershaw explores this fascinating question in a gripping and focused narrative that begins with the failed bomb plot in July 1944 and ends with the German capitulation in May 1945. Hitler, desperate to avoid a repeat of the "disgraceful" German surrender in 1918, was of course critical to the Third Reich's fanatical determination, but his power was sustained only because those below him were unable, or unwilling, to challenge it. Even as the military situation grew increasingly hopeless, Wehrmacht generals fought on, their orders largely obeyed, and the regime continued its ruthless persecution of Jews, prisoners, and foreign workers. Beneath the hail of allied bombing, German society maintained some semblance of normalcy in the very last months of the war. The Berlin Philharmonic even performed on April 12, 1945, less than three weeks before Hitler's suicide. As Kershaw shows, the structure of Hitler's "charismatic rule" created a powerful negative bond between him and the Nazi leadership- they had no future without him, and so their fates were inextricably tied. Terror also helped the Third Reich maintain its grip on power as the regime began to wage war not only on its ideologically defined enemies but also on the German people themselves. Yet even as each month brought fresh horrors for civilians, popular support for the regime remained linked to a patriotic support of Germany and a terrible fear of the enemy closing in. Based on prodigious new research, Kershaw's The End is a harrowing yet enthralling portrait of the Third Reich in its last desperate gasps. "--
Language:
English
Contents:
Going down in flames -- Shock to the system -- Collapse in the West -- Foretaste of horror -- Hopes raised-- and dashed -- Calamity in the East -- Terror comes home -- Crumbling foundations -- Implosion -- Liquidation -- Anatomy of self-destruction.
ISBN:
9781594203145
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

From the preeminent Hitler biographer, a fascinating and original exploration of how the Third Reich was willing and able to fight to the bitter end of World War II.

Countless books have been written about why Nazi Germany lost World War II, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the equally vital question of how and why it was able to hold out as long as it did. The Third Reich did not surrender until Germany had been left in ruins and almost completely occupied. Even in the near-apocalyptic final months, when the war was plainly lost, the Nazis refused to sue for peace. Historically, this is extremely rare.

Drawing on original testimony from ordinary Germans and arch-Nazis alike, award-winning historian Ian Kershaw explores this fascinating question in a gripping and focused narrative that begins with the failed bomb plot in July 1944 and ends with the German capitulation in May 1945. Hitler, desperate to avoid a repeat of the "disgraceful" German surrender in 1918, was of course critical to the Third Reich's fanatical determination, but his power was sustained only because those below him were unable, or unwilling, to challenge it. Even as the military situation grew increasingly hopeless, Wehrmacht generals fought on, their orders largely obeyed, and the regime continued its ruthless persecution of Jews, prisoners, and foreign workers. Beneath the hail of allied bombing, German society maintained some semblance of normalcy in the very last months of the war. The Berlin Philharmonic even performed on April 12, 1945, less than three weeks before Hitler's suicide.

As Kershaw shows, the structure of Hitler's "charismatic rule" created a powerful negative bond between him and the Nazi leadership- they had no future without him, and so their fates were inextricably tied. Terror also helped the Third Reich maintain its grip on power as the regime began to wage war not only on its ideologically defined enemies but also on the German people themselves. Yet even as each month brought fresh horrors for civilians, popular support for the regime remained linked to a patriotic support of Germany and a terrible fear of the enemy closing in.

Based on prodigious new research, Kershaw's The End is a harrowing yet enthralling portrait of the Third Reich in its last desperate gasps.


Author Notes

Ian Kershaw is professor of modern history at the University of Sheffield.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* By September 1918, Germany's military position on the Western Front had severely deteriorated, and political turmoil, military demoralization, and the abdication of the kaiser soon followed. Kershaw, an acclaimed expert on Hitler and the Third Reich, asks why this collapse did not happen to Hitler's Germany during 1944-45, when the military situation clearly was hopeless? Instead, German soldiers and civilians struggled and endured to the bitter end. That question lies at the center of this superb examination of the final defeat of Hitler's tyranny. Military affairs play a part, but Kershaw's narrative concentrates on the mechanics of Nazi administration, civil and military, and efforts to keep the state functioning. The chief functionaries in this task, referred to by Kershaw as the quadrumvirate, were Himmler, Goebbels, Bormann, and Speer. Kershaw describes in fascinating detail their maneuvers as they jockeyed for power and influence with Hitler. Some of Kershaw's conclusions will be hotly debated. Nevertheless, this is an excellent portrait of the regime's death throes.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2010 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Kershaw, author of the definitive biography of Hitler, is unsurpassed as an analyst of the Third Reich's inner dynamics. His latest work addresses a question as significant as it is overlooked. The Third Reich fought to a self-destructive finish-something rare in war's history. Kershaw's narrative approach establishes the nuances of "an integrated history of disintegration." It begins with the aftermath of the July 20, 1944, attempt on Hitler's life: the final internal turning point for the Nazi regime. It continues through German reactions to the Wehrmacht's summer collapse in the west and the Red Army's autumn penetrations into Germany, through the ephemeral optimism generated by the Ardennes counter-attack, to the final overrunning of the Reich and the regime's desperate response of unprecedented domestic terror. Kershaw makes short work of the argument that German resistance was sustained because of Allied demands for unconditional surrender. Nor did the people back the regime from conviction. The majority of Germans had no alternative. Raw terror, an officer corps willing to fight for the homeland, and Hitler's demonic personality were the Reich's sustaining pillars-and its instruments of self-destruction. Kershaw's comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation. (Sept. 12) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Kershaw, famous for his Hitler biography, has spent his professional career exploring the complex world of Hitler, Nazism, and World War II, and becoming one of our foremost experts on the intertwined subjects. He now turns his considerable skills to an examination of the last year of the Third Reich as it struggled to survive the dual challenge of defeating the Soviets coming from the East and the Allies advancing from the West. That Germany was able to fight effectively and vigorously after the near assassination of Hitler in July 1944 is testimony to the efficiencies of the Nazi state under the charismatic leadership of the fanatical Hitler as well as the grim determination of Hitler's underlings to maintain the struggle long after any hope of winning had passed. Kershaw explains in impressive detail the factors that enabled the Germans to keep fighting but assigns the most weight to Hitler's single-minded refusal to give in and the willingness of those who surrounded him to continue the war at all cost. Hitler and his henchmen knew that defeat would be their certain death or, at best, lengthy incarceration. VERDICT This is an essential work by a distinguished historian; valuable for all collections. [See Prepub Alert, 3/21/11.]-Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.