Friday, February 24, 2012

Kershaw: The End

Ian Kershaw is the author of (in my opinion) the best Hitler biography and of many more books about the Nazi regime that are all worth reading. The End: Hitler's Germany 1944–45 deals with the last months of the Third Reich and the question why the Germans fought on even when it was obvious that the war could not be won.

The book starts with the Stauffenberg assassination attempt and ends in May 1945, when the leftovers of the regime were finally dissolved. The focus is not the war in itself, but what the Germans did or didn't do during those last months: soldiers, civilians, members of the party (Gauleiter in particular) and of course party leaders like Himmler, Goebbels, Bormann and Speer.

The majority of the Germans did not truly believe that the war could be won, the military leaders least of all (with a few exceptions). Nevertheless, they kept fighting: out of resignation, out of spite, to protect their home from the Soviet Army (and to a lesser extent from the Western Allies), to get rid of any proof for crimes committed (part of the motivation for the death marches)

I think Kershaw does a good job of giving the reader background knowledge without making the war the focus of the book, so it can be read well even without any greater knowledge of military history. There's no single answer to the question asked here, but you'll get an in-depth look at all the factors that played together to make people hold on to a regime that was clearly already dying.

Book three for the Non-Fiction Challenge
2012 reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment