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on 19 August 2012
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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on 29 September 2017
I never realised that after WW2 so much had gone into the effort to bring Germany back in line with Europe and the World
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on 30 June 2017
Good value - great item
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on 1 October 2017
I found "Exorcising Hitler" by Frederick Taylor to be a very interesting and thought provoking book. The book describes the final months of the second world war, the fall of Nazism and the slow painful rebirth of Germany as a democracy (in the Western Zones)

Whilst there is a plethora of books that deal with end of war and the fall of the Nazi's, there are not as many dealing with the aftermath. All countries involved in the conflict faced a period of austerity and rebuilding, but in Germany the task was much bigger as it was not only material (buildings and infrastructure) but also social and economic recovery which needed to occur. In the early war years, the German home front did not suffer in the same way as say the British who had for example had rationing from the very beginning of war, it was not until 1943/44 when rationing of food became more prevalent within Germany. In the same vein Germany only suffered minor damage in early British air-raids, it was not until much later when the Americans joined the war and technology had improved did bombing over Germany become more sustained and accurate. From mid 1943 onward the tides of war began to change and the German home front got a taste of what the countries invaded by the Wehrmacht years earlier had faced. Following D-Day on the 6th June 1944 western allies landed in France and made slow progress towards Germany and Berlin, there was of course the Soviets who were coming towards Germany from the East. By V E Day on the 8th May 1945, large parts of industrialised Germany lay in ruins, and like civilian populations across Europe they were exhausted after years of conflict.

As with all of Frederick Taylor's books I have read or listened to, this one is well written and flows easily, the book describes who the German's struggled following the surrender on the 8 May 1945 to come to terms with what had been done in their name. One of the difficulties was that there was not just one victor, but there was 3 and later 4 (when France joined) for the Germans to deal with, all of whom expected different things and operated there own zones differently. Whilst the western allies attempted to deal with the civilians under it's control in a firm yet fair way the same can not be said for the Soviets who extracted as much as they could from there zone.

If you have an interest in post war Germany, and how a nation was re-built from a very low base to become one Europe's strongest then you should read this excellent book.
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on 15 October 2014
A timely subject when we think of the challenges of pulling out occupying armies from Afghanistan and Iraq, and maybe one day Palestinian territory, not to mention settling polarising long-term disputes in other parts of the world. In fact, for all the planning that went on before 1944, when it came to the crunch, policies changed endlessly in the face of pragmatism. At the beginning the occupation was nasty and in a broken-down society. There was widespread starvation or near-starvation, ethnic cleansing to the east, bad behaviour by Allied troops (not only the Russians), and poor treatment of prisoners or war. Survival was dependent upon a cigarette currency and, for some, prostitution, preferably for the benefit of a potential guardian. What started out as an occupation tainted with revenge (especially from those countries who themselves had been occupied by the Nazis, in particular Russia and France, and the Jewish attitude represented by the American Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau) turned into the realisation that something more constructive was needed. One forgets that immediately after the War, Germany had become four quite separate countries, ruled differently by the Americans, British, France, and Russia. Of note to those that are anti-EU today, it was recognised that the only way Germany could find its feet economically was to reunite. Hastened by Stalin’s worsening attitude, the Korean War, and economy problems in Britain and France, even the most extreme Nazis were allowed to return to professional and public life, at least in the West. Teachers and lawyers, most of whom had invested in the Nazi party, were allowed back. The Marshall Plan took hold. By the end of the decade, the entity (a united trizonal) West Germany had been launched under Konrad Adenauer, and the German boom with a free press had begun. Germany even escaped rationing four years before Britain. Frederick Taylor details all this and much more in a wonderfully readable book.
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VINE VOICEon 6 December 2011
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. Taylor covers the Spruchkammer (tribunals) and the infamous Fragebogen (questionnaires), but there is limited coverage of the reverse psychology and propaganda designed to induce a sense of collective guilt and responsibility.

To be comprehensive, this book would need to cover the Psychological Warfare Division of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force's psychological campaigns and press coverage, the civilian tours of concentration camps, the destruction of any physical manifestations of Nazi rule (e.g. removal of swastikas from buildings) and changing street and place names.

On the positive side, Taylor's narrative is strong and balances the sweep of historical coverage with personal examples of the impact of occupation. He handles each four occupying powers separately, highlighting the different approaches taken by British, French, American and Soviet forces. If you are interested in the down fall of the Nazi regime and fate of the German people thereafter, this books makes a worthy addition.
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on 26 March 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. It seems the British tended to treat their zone initially as if it were andAfrican colony. At one point an exasperated Kurt Schumacher (later to become the leader of the SPD party) exclaims "Wir sind kein Negervolk" ("We are not Blacks" - which says as much about the racist attitudes prevalent at the time as well as British policy!). Taylor is especially useful on the French position. Early French treatment and policies were harsher even than those in the Russian zone. There were large numbers of prisoner of war deaths, they refused to accept refugees from the east, saying as protestants they would unsettle the religious balance of their Rhineland zone - and cleverly recruiting German Catholic support. Paradoxically though the French were also the first to give the Germans a genuine role in self-government and denazification (Taylor suggests one reason for this may have been more empathy between occupier and occupied given that many of the French had played a collaborational role with Germans in Vichy).

What the reading makes clear is how the occupiers had to juggle many, often conflicting demands: initial concern over "Werwolf"counter attack and desire for revenge, followed by the practicalities of feeding a people incapable of doing this themselves because of destruction and dislocation. How to restore Germany - non industrial state incapable of going to war (The US Morgenthau plan), nation made up of fragmented states as after 1648 (France), a client state incapable of returning to a Nazi, or capitalist past and too weak to wage war (Soviet Union) or a Poor Law pauper kept alive but no better than the poorest at home (Britain). Political and emerging Cold War reality soon focussed minds: Britain and the US restore the framework for economic revival and the ability for their zones to feed themselves. France and Germany begin the dance of a couple destined to tie them and the rest of Europe into the European Union. In the east, concerned Soviets, try to use Berlin to halt these developments, which after the blockade accelerates the binding of wartime western allies and their zones, by then the Federal Republic.

One of the most useful sections is the epilogue - essentially an essay on how post 1949 Germany has come to terms with its nazi past: The sleep cure of the 1950's when the Adenauer regime admits the "fellow traveller" nazi's back to positions of administrative authority to manage the economic miracle. Then the questioning of this by the generation of the 1960's: Press criticism, 1968, Baader-Meinhof terrorism. In the 1970's as a prosperous but not yet confident society, the Ostpolitik of Brandt coming to terms politically with its eastern past.
Only today, over 60 years later is Germany sufficiently confident under a Chancellor born after the Nazi period, to take a lead again, but hesitantly, still conscious of its past malevolent ghosts.

PS: The full title is presumably/hopefully an Editor's choice - surely we no longer need images of Hitler and his name in Big Blocks to sell a book? The German edition (called "Between War and Peace") is much more appropriate. Perhaps a little denazification of the book industry might do some good.....
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on 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.Stimson, the veteran Secretary for War, who weighed up the plight of the country's seventy million people, most of them now reduced to penury.
There are extremly interesting and detailed chapters concerning the fate of those Germans who living in the various occupation zones as well as the shocking Allied soldiers' discovery of the concentration camps and the lice-infected prisoners-of-war. The chaos found during that time was further increased by eight million slave labourers and other displaced persons and a special chapetr is devoted to the hunger the Germans went through. Potatoes, for example, largely coming from the East,could not be transported because of shortages of rolling stock, caused by Allied bombing. Huge quantities of nitrogen fertilizers essential to successful large-scale production within Germany were diverted to the armaments sector.
It was not only hunger which was a serious problem but also the various diseases, among them dysentery-related ones, which killed thousands of prisoners in the American occupied zone. Food riots and unrest erupted in the towns of the Ruhr,where there had already been mass meetings to protest at the food and fuel shortages. In many parts of Germany, the daily calorific allowance was around 800-850, which was a starvation level.
The Allies wanted to penalise but also to purify Germany, to make its beaten, hungry population ready for a future in which the country would not be a threat to the world. Thus, the denazification program started and more than 8.5 million Germans who had been members of the Nazi Party were to be checked or vetted, among them the chief industry managers ,some of which were responsible for the production of poison and nerve gas and other chemicals used in live human experiments By Dr. Mengele and his cohorts. Millions of questionnaires-Fragebogen- were reviewed by the American military. The British, for example, set out to find those Germans who had committed war crimes against British POWs or captured Allied aircrew.
The black market had a field day and goods were paid for in cigarettes and much less in money, which was almost worthless.
Taylor also brings the story of those ten million German speaking refugees who were expelled from Poland and the fate of the two million women who got raped by the Russian soldiers.
In the end, the American and British wanted to build strong sectors so that they would be able to resist the attempts of the Russians to fortify the GDR. This was due to the fact that denanification was a tool for economic transformation and an instrument for political control for the Soviets.
Taylor questions whether Germany has exorcised Hitler and shows to what extent the denazification process was far from actually becoming a success. He wraps up his book by describing the actions taken by Chancellor Adenauer to change Germany's situation and society as well as his efforts to establish new relations with the Western world.
This book shows to what degree a society which was run by a mad and despot leader can face innumerable hardships-a price which was paid for many years to come by a society which fell victim to the mad illusions of Hitler and his cronies. Taylor has again managed to tell this story by the help of a combination of serious academic research and a very good and lively style of narrative skill.
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on 2 February 2012
This book, like the previous title 'Dresden', enables the reader to reach past the typical 'Victors' point of view and look behind the 'they got what they deserved curtain' to determine how Germany suffered after the war. Various points have been addressed, from the obsessive 'De-Nazification' of the population, which was absurd considering that practically everyone was obliged to walk the party line as required in a fascist state(wouldn't you when faced with the repercussions?) to the horrific treatment of German civilians by the Russians. Fascinating, honest, factual and disturbing.
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on 24 April 2011
As an avid reader of WW2 political history, I enjoyed this book which spans an era that I haven't previously read much about. History belongs to the victors and it strikes me that much of what went wrong in the period after May 1945 gets lost in books that tend to focus on the euphoria of victory. That's why it was fascinating to read about the experiences of the millions of German POWs in the Rhine fields who were literally left out in the open where thousands of them perished, the quandary that 'broke Britain' was in around borrowing even more money to feed the German population who were starving, the decision to strip Germany of her entire Government apparatus and start again (unlike the end of WW1 where it was largely left in place), and the ongoing abuses perpetrated by the Russians particularly towards Poland and the survivors from the Home Army. An excellent read.
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