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on 24 July 2004
Joachim Fest is a distinguished German journalist and the author of an acclaimed biography of Hitler. In "Inside Hitler's Bunker," he focuses on the last days of the Third Reich, beginning his narrative on April 16, 1945 as the Soviets open their final offensive against Berlin. The book explores the surreal and miserable world of the "Fuhrer Bunker" under the Reich Chancellery, the fanatical resistance and eventual collapse of the German armies defending Berlin, Hitler's delusional attempts to command armies that had been wiped out, and the astonishing willingness of soldiers and civilians to obey his orders until the very end.
This is a highly readable and very powerful book, and the translator (Margot Bettauer Dembo) deserves high marks for the result. I read the book avidly, and as soon as I was done my wife picked it up and did the same.
"Inside Hitler's Bunker" may be somewhat disappointing for those who have read a great deal about the Battle of Berlin or Hitler's last days, but it will prove to be a gripping narrative for those who are new to the horrors of Berlin in 1945. Part of the continuing fascination of this dark time is the challenge of trying to understand the incomprehensible: how could a madman like Hitler stay in control of Germany in the last weeks of April 1945, and why did so many Germans follow him as he dragged them into the final catastrophe?
The answer to those questions may lie in the 12 years of indoctrination that preceded those fateful days in 1945. For a brief and readable perspective on this period (which has been thoroughly explored in numerous more massive tomes), you may want to try "Inside Hitler's Germany: Life Under the Third Reich" by Matthew Hughes and Chris Mann.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2005
A vivid account of the events at the end of Hitler's life.
Margot Bettauer Dembo's excellent translation conveys Fest's straightforward style to great effect. Fest is very good on Hitler's need to destroy, but he also paints a not altogether unsympathetic picture of a man in physical, moral and mental decline, with a continuous tremor and a prodigious appetite for cake. The latter detail is typical of those throughout the book which make infamous characters more "human" for the general reader for whom this book is intended.
Fest is particularly good on the nature of history and its interpretation and on how difficult it can be to unravel the truth behind even recent events, as different interested parties seek to place a different spin on them.
As other reviewers have said, this book is probably a good starting point for those unfamiliar with the subject, rather than a reference work for the expert. As such, it represents a very worthy addition to the recent genre of vivid historical narrative.
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VINE VOICEon 28 January 2009
Let's be honest - how many of those 800+ page tomes on Hitler and the Nazis actually come off the shelf, get read, or remembered when we've finished with them? Not many, I'll wager. Here, Fest bucks the trend of history being all about narrative and yet more narrative, and replaces it with a sound, analytical account of the last days of the Third Reich. It's a well-known story given a dust down in the light of new evidence, but it still wears the learning lightly, which so many histories of this perod don't do. Concise, crisp and to the point, if more books were produced with this kind of approach, history and historical analysis would be served much more richly. In any list of the "best history books under 200 pages long" - this would be on it.
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on 21 October 2004
Joachim Fest has written a very solid account of what happened in Hitler's bunker. He has reviewed the other books on the subject, and in this book, has summarized what they seem to agree on and also discusses the points that the historians argue about. And the sharp focus, only on what happened in Hitler's bunker those last weeks in march 1945, makes this book, although only 180 pages long, able to go into some detail about what actually happened. This I think Fest manages do to very expertly, with good discussions about we know for a fact and what we probably will never know for sure (e.g. if Hitler shot himself or got somebony else to do it). Most of this part of the book is already reasonably well know -- Fest doesn's unearth any "new facts" -- but the discussion is very well managed, not boring in detail, but still in depth. And if you're new to this subject, you'll probably learn some interesting facts, e.g. that Hitler married Eva Braun the day before they committed suicide together, so that she actually died as Eva Hitler.
Fest also manages to underbuild well the reason for picking out only the personal aspect of the story -- about Hitler's last days, not about the fall for Das Dritte Reich. It was not something I had thought that much about, but Fest shows very convincingly how the person Hitler was so closely related to the political entity, that it was impossible to image a contiued Nazi-Germany without Hitler, and this makes Hitler's personal fate so interesting. It is one of those moments where world events are clearly traceable to individual persons.
So Fest makes a good point when he underlines how closely Hitler the person is intertwined with the nationalsosialistic state, but I think the "reflecting" chapters, where he attempts to explain the phenomenon Hitler, are over the top. They are to psychologizing, read to much into Hitler's psychological traits and are hampered with over-generalizations about "the pre-civilized state of evil" and other quasi-philosphy.
In summary I think the actual history-bit of this book is very good, but since Fest has decided to make every other chapter either a history- or an analyzing chapter, and the analyzing chapters generally are not that good, I don't thinkt this book as a whole deserves a very good rating. It is easy to read, and the story it tells is fascinating, but it could have been even better. So buy for the history chapters, or if you're into history as psychological analysis.
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on 17 April 2012
Well written, and a lot of effort in research must have gone into writing this book.
There has been so much over the years, written about Hitler, and the bunker, but I personally
felt that this was a good read, and did not go back and forth like some other books.

Worth getting if you have an interest in this sort of thing
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on 19 December 2013
this book puts you at the heart of the final days in Hitler's bunker. As it is written one cannot avoid a feeling of impending doom as the Russians get ever nearer. I like the way the author has found out what happened to the principal players after the war and tells the reader their story. A very interesting and accurate book.
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VINE VOICEon 1 December 2007
An immensely readable short book about the fall of Hitler and the Third Reich. Fest's writing style is perfect for the non-specialist and his analysis of Hitler as a wholly new phenomenon in world history in terms of sheer mania for destruction without purpose is clear and convincing.
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on 1 September 2014
Joachim Fest introduces us to this truly exceptional study in his foreword by the opening line: ‘No catastrophe in recent history is comparable to the collapse of Germany in 1945.’

What I would add is that there can be few books on the subject comparable to Joachim Fest’s ‘Inside Hitler’s Bunker’. And however clichéd my following line may sound, it IS plain to read that Fest did his homework, for the results are outstanding.

Humbly enough, toward the end of the foreward, he states that the authors named at the back of the book deepened his insights into the sequence of events, “though a comprehensive portrayal, both of what happened and important background aspects is, it seems, still needed”. Indeed, he calls it a “sketch”, and a “step in the right direction”. And yet, let’s remind ourselves, something of a New Millennium cinematic masterpiece was based on this book. ‘Downfall’.

It is an outstanding, informative, erudite piece. And wherever Fest is unclear of the validity of information, he says so.

If only fiction could be like this. Because none can ever match this story, most of which we may now accept as historical fact, “sketch” or no sketch.

The book primarily covers the final living days of Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich, during the Russian offensive. It looks at a country ‘led’ by a man who barely saw light of day, who was prone to fits, and who had fallen deeply into the realms of delusion: he’d fight battles dependent on non-existing armies, order generals and advises who’d dare not to contradict him. And further still, we not only witness the extremes to which a madman was prepared to go, but how his ever loyal entourage, right down to kids on the street, as in Hitler Youth, for whom Hitler would show his face from time to time and offer gratitude, was ready to go the full distance also, come what may, and for a man who never had or believed in a plan b. The sole object was to destroy.

Philosophically, the book also introduces us the idea of Hitler in German history. Was he a product of consistency rather than a German catastrophe? It is a truly fascinating question, a question remaining open today, and in order to make any kind of sense of it, we need to go back into Germany’s distant past. And yet Fest succeeds in making all this accessible in a novel-sized book of less than 200 pages.

If you haven’t read this book already, then it’s a must. And even if you’re not necessarily interested in modern history, or non-fiction in general, I’m sure you’ll still end up reading it at least twice.

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on 4 January 2008
This publication is a solid account of those last days. The days when the Gross Deutches Reich, once spanning most of Europe, was not much bigger than the city of Berlin. Naturally it is becoming difficult to cover this important chapter in European history from a new angle. This said the author would appear to have managed it.
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on 4 December 2014
An excellent book with good service provided by seller.
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