"Covering the Soviet invasion of eastern Germany proper from January 1945, Noble details the disorderly refugee rout and the mass death of women and children by the roadsides, together with the killing and savagery which Red Army soldiers unleashed, whether at the behest of their commanders or through their own brutalized state. It is testimony to the power of his writing that these particular passages are often genuinely difficult to read. At the same time, Noble admirably succeeds where some historians have failed by avoiding both the Scylla of being seen to place Soviet atrocities in eastern Germany on an equal footing with Nazi crimes, and the Charybdis of being seen to legitimize such Soviet atrocities as brutal but understandable vengeance for the outrages perpetrated by the Germans in the Soviet Union. That much of the eastern German population's suffering was made needlessly unavoidable by the crass, self-serving actions of Nazi apparatchiks is a running theme throughout the book. Nevertheless, it is not only the Party, but the Wehrmacht also, which comes in for harsh criticism. For instance, Noble demonstrates as fallacious the claim that the Wehrmacht continued fighting in the east purely so as to hold open corridors to the west for floods of refugees; on the contrary, army units and their commanders frequently took action that was severely detrimental to those refugees, and wild plunder by German troops was widespread. This excellent book, scholarly and compellingly written, is thoroughly deserving of a wide readership." --"European History Quarterly"
About the Author
Alastair Noble has been a Historian in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office since 2002, previously working at The National Archives, Kew. This, his second book, is based on a major revision of his PhD thesis, 'Propaganda, Morale and Flight: Germany's eastern provinces, summer 1944spring 1945', which was examined by the late Professor John Erickson, the foremost western authority on the Nazi-Soviet war.