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Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany [Hardcover]

Frederick Taylor
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
Price: 25.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Mar 2011

Not since the end of the Roman Empire, almost fifteen hundred years earlier, is there a parallel, in Europe at least, to the fall of the German nation in 1945. Industrious and inventive, home over centuries to a disproportionate number of western civilization's greatest thinkers, writers, scientists and musicians, Germany had entered the twentieth century united, prosperous, and strong, admired by almost all humanity for its remarkable achievements. During the 1930s, embittered by one lost war and then scarred by mass unemployment, Germany embraced the dark cult of National Socialism. Within less than a generation, its great cities lay in ruins and its shattered industries and its cultural heritage seemed utterly beyond saving. The Germans themselves had come to be regarded as evil monsters. After six years of warfare how were the exhausted victors to handle the end of a horror that to most people seemed without precedent?

In Exorcising Hitler, Frederick Taylor tells the story of Germany's year zero and what came after. As he describes the final Allied campaign, the hunting down of the Nazi resistance, the vast displacement of peoples in central and eastern Europe, the attitudes of the conquerors, the competition between Soviet Russia and the West, the hunger and near starvation of a once proud people, the initially naive attempt at expunging Nazism from all aspects of German life and the later more pragmatic approach, we begin to understand that despite almost total destruction, a combination of conservatism, enterprise and pragmatism in relation to former Nazis enabled the economic miracle of the 1950s. And we see how it was only when the '60s generation (the children of the Nazi era) began to question their parents with increasing violence that Germany began to awake from its sleep cure'.

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Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany + After the Reich: From the Liberation of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift + Germany 1945: From War to Peace
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; UNKNOWN edition (7 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408812118
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408812112
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'In narrative power and persuasion, he has paralleled in Dresden what Antony Beevor achieved in Stalingrad' (Independent on Sunday)

'[The Berlin Wall tells] a story of great drama and human interest ... Hundreds tried to escape over, through, or under the wall, and Taylor tells the story of their ingenious efforts and occasional heart-stopping successes with great verve' (The Times)

'[The Berlin Wall] combines serious historical research with an assured, gripping narrative ... Taylor's extraordinary narrative skill - with the pacing of a thriller and the immediacy of reportage - is at its best' (Irish Times)

Book Description

The first major history of what happened in Germany immediately after World War Two

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clear account of postwar zonal policy 26 Mar 2012
After books on the wartime bombing of Dresden and the Berlin Wall, Taylor now provides a popular read on the less explored (by non-German historians at least) immediate post war history of Germany, 1945-47. The initial chapters provide a narrative of collapse and defeat including the mass movements of Germans from east to west (although not with the same degree of depth or breadth as in Giles MacDonogh: After the Reich - from the fall of Vienna to the Berlin Airlift). I was fascinated to discover that teams of economists had been working secretly within the Nazi structure under Backe (Hitler's Food Minister) and Speer planning for the economic survival of a defeated germany from 1943 onwards. The team included one Ludwig Ehrhard, later to be the architect of west Germany's economic miracle.

Where Taylor shines is when he looks at the specific occupation policies of the allies. One useful chapter examines the practical problems of denazification. An early IBM system was introduced to set up a database of suspected Nazi's - but was plagued by technical issues. It was to prove an impossibility for demobilising occupiers to denazify an entire population and Taylor chronicles how pragmatism led to this being one of the first areas handed back to German control. Another factor slowing down the process is suggested as being an underlying anti-semitism amongst the US command (especially Patton) which was reflected in a distaste for supporting and listening to DP's (Displaced persons) many of whom were Jewish survivors of the camps.

Post war zonal policy is examined individually. Much has already been written of the attitude of the Soviets in the east, less about the British and especially the French in the west.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new beginning in German history 2 April 2011
As someone who had previously read Frederick Taylor's books before, I have waited for his new book on Germany and I was not not disappointed at all.
This time Mr. Taylor presents his readers with the story of the Zero Hour of Gemany. To start with, you will learn about the "Werwolf" which was an organization whose purpose was to resist the occupation of Germany by the Allies in 1945. With some exceptions, this organization did not achieve much and Mr. Taylor continues with his fascinating story about the horrible conditions which were to be witnessed in Germany in 1945 and beyond. He focuses on the Red Army advance into what had been the Greater German Reich in January 1945. The German population had to fear not only rape and destruction but also the longer-term intentions of the Russians, or, in other words, the ethnic cleansing of Germany.
Stunde Null or Zero Hour began in May 1945. The destruction and loss during the last phase of the war was so tremendous, the chaos so thoroughgoing and the fall from apparent grace so dramatic that however strong and the sense of relief that the fighting was over, there was little hope of a tolerable future. German felt anxiety about what the victors would do to them and they had also felt total humiliation above all against the Nazis who promised them so much. At this point there are some personal testimonies which are based on memories and diaries which form the basis of Taylor's chapter on the above. To quote: "It would not be an exaggeration to say that in 1945, a great many-in some countries most-Allied national clearly hated the Germans".
In the USA, there was a political struggle between those who wanted to severly punish the German for their bestial crimes, led bt Henry Morgenthau, and those who were more practical, led by Henry J.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dry title, great read 19 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Hidden behind what looks like a very dry and technical title lies a vety well written easy to read book.

The style of writing is a low jargon and easy to understand explanation, without at any point talking down to you, or sacrificing depth. This makes it both an entertaining and informative read.

This is a period of history of which I don't know a great deal, and this book toppled quite a few of my pre-conceptions. I found the information on the French sector to be a bit of an eye opener, and was disturbed by the indication that we don't yet know anything like the full extent of Soviet atrocities in the Eastern sector, whilst the epilogue with its description of the "Sleep cure" ties all the threads together perfectly.

This was a very satisfying read. Frederick Taylor is now high on my list of authors to look out for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Frederick Taylor's latest book is subtitled `The Occupation and Denazification of Germany'. The title, `Exorcising Hitler', suggests the focus of the book will be the process of denazifying the defeated Third Reich. It was this aspect that I was most interested in as it is a subject that seems to avoid the forensic coverage that saturates anything to do with the Nazi regime.

I was therefore slightly disappointed by the balance of this book being focused on the occupation of Germany. That said, the occupation narrative is handled deftly, with Taylor focusing on the different reception of western and Soviet forces and the death throes of the Nazi regime. The Götterdämmerung of fortress cities and the assault on east Prussia contrasts with the relatively benign reception of western forces across the Rhine.
The fate of the German people and the allied occupiers from Stunde Null (Zero Hour) is even-handedly covered. Millions of Germans suffered expulsion from their homes and homelands and all Germans lived through the starving years of limited rations (albeit in a Europe similarly afflicted by lack of food).

There are interesting diversions, such as telling the story of the Werwolf brigades that threatened (and, in large part, did no more than threaten) to terrorise the occupiers after the end of the war, or plans for a Nazi national redoubt in the Alps. US State Department plans under Henry Morgenthau to revert Germany to an agrarian economy, an impossible plan that would turn the clock back to a pre-industrial age, demonstrate how things could have been even worse for the conquered nation.

I expected more coverage on the specifics of denazification - reversing the brain washing of more than eleven years of saturation propaganda.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Smashing Great
Super Smashing Great
Published 1 month ago by Rollypolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Great stuff. Well written, well researched , and very detailed. Fascinating to read, and felt truly educated afterwards. Buy it.
Published 4 months ago by mr g b hamblin
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine contribution to the World War 2 canon
What happened after Germany lost the War? How was Nazism eradicated from Germany by the occupying powers. And what tensions needed to be overcome within the allied forces? Read more
Published 8 months ago by Gary White
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY INTERESTING BOOK
If we had done this in Iraq, things may have turned out differently for that tortured country. It is facsinating to compare the US & UK approach. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Portlander
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful analysis of post war Germany
Very good analysis of post war Germany which is only diminished with its rather superficial review of the 60s, 70s and 80s as well as the very limited exploration of the... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mark Titterington
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of interesting Facts
This book is for people who enjoy reading about world events backed up with facts. There is a story of sorts but the timeline does jump from decade to decade and back again without... Read more
Published 13 months ago by jock Tamsen
4.0 out of 5 stars Beyond 1945
German history did not stop with the Red Army placing the Red Flag atop the Reichstag nor with the guilty going to the gallows the following year. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Stafford Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Exorcising Hitler
This is a repeat of what I have already read but still I could not put the book down. I have spent a lot of time in Germany and I don't think the people will ever fall for this... Read more
Published 16 months ago by bob splaine
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant on the occupation, weaker on the denazification
The period in German history following the Second World War is probably one of the most neglected in terms of popular history, far overshadowed by the war itself and frequently... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Felix Valencia
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Buy
Another well written book dealing with a subject which is not usually discussed in programs etc dealing with the second world war and its aftermath - another book for any student... Read more
Published 20 months ago by R J NEWSON
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