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After the Reich: From the Liberation of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift [Paperback]

Giles Macdonogh
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

21 Feb 2008

In 1945 Germany was a nation in tatters. Swathes of its population were despairing, homeless, bombed-out and on the move. Refugees streamed towards the West and soldiers made their way home, often scarring the villages they passed through with parting shots of savagery.

Politically the country was neutered, carved into zones of occupation. While Britain and America were loathe to repeat the crippling reparations demands of the First World War, Russia bayed for blood, stripping their own zone of everything from rail tracks to lavatory bowls.

After the Reich is the first history to give the full picture of Germany's bitter journey to reconstruction. Giles Macdonogh expertly charts the varied experiences of all who found themselves in the German melting pot. His people-focused narrative unveils shocking truths about how people continued to treat each other, even outside the confines of war. It is a crucial lesson for our times.   


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After the Reich: From the Liberation of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift + Germany 1945: From War to Peace + The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (21 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719567661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719567667
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Giles MacDonogh is a British writer, historian and translator. His blog may be read on www.MacDonogh.co.uk

He has worked as a journalist most notably for the Financial Times (1988 - 2003), where he covered food, drink and a variety of other subjects. He has also contributed to most of the other important British newspapers, and is a regular contributor to the Times. As a historian, MacDonogh concentrates on central Europe, principally Germany.

He was educated at the City of London School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read modern history. He later carried out historical research at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris.

MacDonogh is the author of fourteen books, chiefly about German history, but also on gastronomy and wine. In 1988 he won a Glenfiddich Special Award for his first book A Palate in Revolution (Robin Clark) and was short listed for the André Simon Award. His books have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Slovakian, Russian, Bulgarian and Polish.

Writing in the Spectator Magazine, Graham Stewart said "Giles MacDonogh has repeatedly shown himself to be in the front rank of British scholars of German history. The depth of his human understanding, the judiciousness of his pickings from source material and the quality of his writing make this book at once gripping and grave. Graham Stewart, playing for high stakes, Spectator Magazine, 15 August 2009.
His latest book is The Great Battles (Quercus 2010).

Product Description


Praise for Giles MacDonogh's previous books: (.)

Prussia: 'Well-researched, well-written and important' (Independent)

Berlin: 'A rich book, packed with information, understanding and enthusiasm, stuffed with wonderful tales well told and suffused by prodigious reading' (Daily Telegraph)

Frederick the Great: 'Stylishly written and rich in detail, this biography offers the most rounded portrait of Frederick the Great yet to appear in English' (Sunday Telegraph)

The Last Kaiser: 'Compelling' (The Sunday Times)

Book Description

In the chaos after the Reich an astonishing 2.5 million ordinary citizens were killed. This harrowing history uncovers the extraordinary stories of real German people from all walks of life in the aftermath of the Second World War

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sobering look at postwar Germany 8 Feb 2008
A lot has been written about World War II, and some has even been written about the aftermath regarding the development of the Cold War. However, there is not a lot of published information giving an overall view of the occupation of Germany and the development of the divided country that lasted for 40 years. After the Reich, by Giles MacDonogh, rectifies that fact. It is heavily sourced, examining individual accounts as well as publications covering certain aspects of the occupation to give a broad overview of the horrors that developed and the neglect and outright savagery that caused the deaths of huge numbers of Germans in the aftermath of the war. MacDonogh gives a vivid yet very depressing picture showing that inhumanity was not limited to the Nazis.

MacDonogh begins the book with the months leading up to the end of the war, as the Soviets were advancing through Poland and eastern Germany, raping and pillaging as much as possible. Revenge was a common motive, vengeance for every inhumane act the Nazis perpetrated on the Soviets during the almost four years of war. Others just gave into their baser instincts. Heavily covered in this book, both at the beginning as well as throughout the text, is how Austria figured into the whole issue. Many on both sides saw the Austrians almost as guilty as the Germans for what happened, yet it was always treated slightly differently.

This makes the beginning of the book quite heavy. While MacDonogh obviously doesn't go into details of individual rapes, the near-constant refrain about the rape and pillaging, both from individual accounts as well as statistical ones, constantly wears on the reader. However, it also gets across just horrible life in Germany and Austria was in the few months after the war ended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories 7 Nov 2010
I was born in a little town near Stuttgart in 1940 and have memories from the time between 1945 and 1947.
I remember the American soldiers as nice men, one could always ask for chewing gum, sweets and cigarettes and they gave us children usually what we asked for. We had for some time French soldiers and we did not like them because they chased us away when we asked.
The book "After the Reich" was a real eye opener for me - having only memories from that time and I was never sure whether it had been really as I remembered. We starved and froze the two winters, now I know why.
After 1947 it all got better and we had then a "family Amie" who came every Thursday evening and brought us food from the PX.
The book is, especially for somebody who remembers, not an easy and pleasant read. Nevertheless I would recomend this book for everybody - although after having read it you might feel exhausted and emotionallt drained.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Lucky We Were 24 July 2007
"After the Reich" is one of the most harrowing books I've ever read. I've always said that because we weren't invaded, & despite the bombing in Britain, the loss of life & injuries suffered by those at home & away, we were so lucky & this book will show why. I've also wondered what happened in Germany after the war finished & the second half of this book explains all. Many thanks for extending my knowledge.
Rose Harris
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Did Germans deserve what they got? 31 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So well written, I think should be mandatory reading. One up for British sense of fair play, in that the safest and best managed of the Allied occupation zones post 1945 German surrender was the British zone. OK, you could say that we were never occupied so did not suffer at the hands of the Germans -well "hands on" as it were, but how does this justify what atrocities were commmitted in zones under American control?
Makes you think long and hard, great book
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars casahistoria 5 May 2008
Any modern writer of post war Germany who mentions the names of Hajo Holborn and Michael Balfour in the first few pages clearly has done their reading. This book fills in the gap left in many English language histories of postwar central Europe: from the actual end of war and its immediate impact to the outbreak of the Cold War. Covering not just the zones of Germany, but also Austria and the events of German speaking Europe elsewhere - the German Reich at its largest.

The initial 100 pages or so are a harrowing account of the treatment of the German speakers as they were invaded, occupied, looted, raped and for the millions in the east, moved westwards. The brutality by all concerned is meticulously documented - too much so in places - I wanted to skip on as it was so disturbing and relentless. The Red Army is well documented by others, less so the proportionately greater savagery of the Czechs on the Sudetenlanders (especially grim as MacDonogh makes clear the pre 1938 Sudetenlanders were ex Austrians, not Germans who had been unlawfully deprived of the chance at self determination after Versailles by a nationalist Czech regime.).

Another eyeopener is the evidence that all the allies used prisoners of war in ways similar to Speer in his use of slave labour (and often in the face of resultant deaths). The US was especially cynical in this matter announcing they had released all POW's in mid 1946 when in fact they released them to be handed over to other allies: Belgium and France, for manual work. The USSR was still returning POW's in the mid 1950's.

The early stance of the US was surprisingly tough. Outside the Soviet Zone, the US had and maintained the hardest stance to its prisoners and civilian population for the first 18 months.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The untold story !
I had just finished reading two books The Germans in Normandy, and the Bitter Road to Freedom, a new history of the Liberation of Europe. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Bruce Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but lacking context
The book is good and a useful eye opener to atrocities committed to the German people in 1945-9, including rape, theft, murder and ethnic cleansing. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Junius
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing
A fascinating read which brings to life what is rarely told in history or film. What happened to the Germans whom had spread themselves around europe under the nazi occupation. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gt Pattison
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book & fast delivery thanks
Published 1 month ago by Peter Martens
5.0 out of 5 stars eccelent
recommended to all who are seeking beyond the programmed and sanitised version of what befell and was perpetrated on the German people by their victors.
Published 3 months ago by richard reid ritchie
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history lesson, well written
This is a massive piece of work, well written and absorbing. I had a little information about the immediate post-war period but this showed me how little it was! Read more
Published 5 months ago by JBS
5.0 out of 5 stars Only the heartless cannot be moved by the suffering of the German...
The suffering of the German people during, and particularly after, the war is a taboo subject. The victors write the history and, it seems, their is room for only one set of... Read more
Published 6 months ago by J. Baker
2.0 out of 5 stars Unreliable and badly written - avoid!
This book is riddled with errors and oddities. Menuhin did not give Furtwängler his hand after a concert - this is a literal translation of a German idiom - he *shook* his... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Dr Konrad Schneckenhauer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but sloppily written
My three star rating is based solely on the fact that this book provides information - a lot of it - on an aspect of the immediate post war period that has arguably not received... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Italophile
3.0 out of 5 stars ...good but not briliant...
I have read many books focusing on German women in the months after May 45. It is a sad, very sad, story of rape, pillage and murder. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mike
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