- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 17 hours and 59 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 8 Jun. 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B008A6NKRQ
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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The End: Hitler's Germany, 1944-45 Audiobook – Unabridged
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This book is very useful complement to the many other books on the Nazi era.
Ian Kershaw asks how and why “the end” took so long.
He follows the inexorable process, month by month, chapter by chapter. First a brief summary of military events is set out. He then outlines the response made by the Nazi regime. Changes in strategy and tactics, movements of generals, divisions and armies to different sectors of the fronts – all such are outlined. But the leadership also had to secure the continuing compliance of soldier and citizen – to fight on as the position got worse – and worse and worse. This is the focus of his analysis.
A conclusion ties together the different strands of the argument. Ian Kershaw sets out clearly his own conclusions – those of a pre-eminent historian of the subject. Historians will find much to debate and discuss.
Clearly many factors contributed to the survival/prolonged death of the Third Reich. Some were of less significance than others. I will not offer a complete summary here, a couple of sentences will suffice.
For example, it has been suggested that the demand by the Allies for unconditional surrender, in removing the possibility of any negotiations, foreclosed on peace feelers. The author doubts this actually made much difference. Fear of Bolshevism was another matter. The German army had every reason to expect retribution for their own actions in Soviet territories - a powerful reason to fight at all costs.
The decisive factor in the author’s opinion was Hitler. Political power was so structured in the Reich that no credible challenge could be made to his leadership. For him it was victory or death – and he was prepared to take Germany with him. With his death alone came the end.
He does not stress so much the role of Albert Speer – organizational genius allied to unscrupulous, inhuman use of slave labour. Yet he states – in passing – that but for Speer the war could have been over in 1943.
This is not a book for the reader who is unfamiliar with the broad narrative. The military process is described only in summary and succinct fashion. It is written for those with an interest in and knowledge of the subject. For the interested layperson and historian it is stimulating and thought-provoking.
There is a certain irony however. We live in an age now when wars never seem to end – so what lessons The End offers for today’s politicians I am not sure.
I can't say that I enjoyed the book (its subject defies enjoyment) but I was engrossed . . . and I was made more aware of the terror of that period. Yes, it is repetitious at times and there is quite a lot of reiteration; it does seem a little overlong in some sections . . . but ultimately I think this is a work that is well worth reading by anyone who wants to know 'what happened next.' It is harrowing without being over sensational; matter of fact, whilst exhibiting an appropriate and academic level of regret for what human beings can do to one another. Be aware that about a quarter of the book is taken up with references and sources.
I would have liked, included in the supportive information, some outline of to what and how the main figures of the Nazi regime 'progressed' after the fall of the Third Reich. It can be found elsewhere of course but it would perhaps help to round off the story and perhaps could have been incorporated with the useful dramitis personae which is at the beginning of the book. More maps too could assist the reader, although the ones already in the book are most useful.