First heard about this book around the early 1970s in a review in a wargaming magazine and it struck a chord, being around 10 years old and the idea of a red orchestra was more aesthetic than real.
Coming across this book 30 years later, and a little wiser about world events, brought home to me the sheer adrenalin rush of these people lives. Their lives ticked forever, as each second was always held in the balance of the moment. The risks they took were phenonmenal. They had belief in their values and vision, and this bound them together n a camaraderie, the notion of trusting someone with your life in this type of enviroment is phenomenal. Many were killed by the Gestapo and the application of torture delivered multiple bodies. However the German resistance, which I was told when I was studying German history, did not exist, is rendered here in black and red.
The book is a real life Le Carre page turner for historians. It is meticulous research, easily read and details the impact of the Communist intellgence and how it turned the war, but there again didn't everything? The troops on the ground at Kursk, Stalingrad and all the other battles also turned the war. There was no foregone conclusion.
Read this book to learn about many things as it highlights those who lived on a precipice and took their life in their hands as they balanced on a thing wire whilst looking upwards and playing the violin.
A staggering read and it brings up the sheer terror of living in the 1940's the most brutal decade in European history.
on 5 November 2014
This resistance group was far different from the well known July 20, 1944 Valkyrie assassination attempt on Hitler.
The Red Orchestra group was made up of a wide variety of individuals from intellectuals to artists, bureaucrats and some military officers, some with links to the German Communist party.
Sadly their attempts at sending out military information to the Allies' intelligence agencies was largely ignored.
There are a few mistakes in the text such as the commenting on Nazi Germany's toehold in Gibraltar?! News to me!
However I found some surprising information such as "Widows of officers and statesmen who gave their lives in the 20th July coup attempt were denied West German Government pensions until the 1960's." mainly due to "The history of the anti-nazi resistance was suppressed and the West German legal system upheld the convictions of Germans executed for resistance activities"
All in all worth a read especially if you are interested in espionage in World War 2 and German resistance activities.
on 20 January 2016
Brilliant book. I was very impressed. Articulate, well-written, well-researched, sensitive to the memories of all those involved in the anti-Nazi resistance movements during WW2. A historical chronicle of the highest order. I've just finished reading the book and intend to read it again, in the near future.