The book contains much interesting new material, and the last 3 chapters in particular are quite fascinating. However, earlier parts of the book are highly repetitive, to the point of boredom, and he includes a lot of very dodgy German translations (presumably his own), whose real meaning can only be surmised by imagining what the original German must have been. In some cases, these are quite misleading. I kept on reading because I felt it must improve, and in fairness the final sections are well worth the wait
If you have read other WW2 books with the intention of trying to glean the feelings and motivations of ordinary Germans the authors contention that this book was written to expose just such emotions is not born out by reading the text. This viewpoint does touch upon these feelings but only marginally in the context of the implications of the actions of the main movers. Strangely for me the very first book on this phenomenon has been the most interesting in that respect, its title is INTO ENEMY ARMS by Michael Hingston. This title THE END by Ian Kershaw is well written book which contrary to the authors intentions simply replicates the story of the conclusion of the 2WW but does not engage with the sentiments and motives of ordinary Germans at that time.
I'd say that subject book is most likely of interest to students of history of a certain age group and cultural background. I happen to be 70 years old European residing overseas. The book makes for fascinating reading and has helped me importantly filling in gaps of knowledge while also confirming many notions I had about "what had happened". Personally I was particularly interested in all aspects relating to the separate capitulation of the Nazis in northern Italy. I believe that Max Waibel the Swiss general staff captain who was at the root of this particular intitiative deserved a mention, but it was not to be. There are several grammatical errors is this fine book. Another thing is I can't believe Himmler was on Dönitz staff, as stated.
This is a vivid and enthralling account of the terrible last days of Hitler's Third Reich and sets out to explain why the Germans continued fighting up to the very bitter end in May 1945. Kershaw authoritatively examines the various factors contributing to this - lingering loyalty to a previously successful leader, the Wehrmacht's oath of allegiance to him, readiness of the civilian authorities to continue performing their duties amid appalling violence and above all the terror which the Nazis had exerted elsewhere in Europe and now visited on the German people.
I am the author of 'A World To Gain' (Clairview Books) in which I examine the role played by President Franklin Roosevelt in the Second World War.
On Page 7 of 'The End', Ian Kershaw writes that 'Unconditional Surrender' was a 'formula produced by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Casablanca Conference in January 1943, and agreed by the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill...'
This is true, as Churchill stated in the House of Commons on 21st July 1949. It is important though to note exactly what Churchill told the House, which was that he had known nothing at all about the policy of 'Unconditional Surrender' until Roosevelt, seated next to him at the Casablanca press conference, revealed it to the world. Churchill stated that, finding himself 'on the spot', he decided to give his 'support to it' in order to 'accommodate' himself. In short, Churchill was in fact tricked into agreeing to Roosevelt's policy.
(In Chapter 9 of my book, I show that British government documents which purport to contradict what Churchill told the House of Commons are not to be trusted.)
Churchill's astonishment at what Roosevelt told the reporters is understandable for that changed the nature of the war fundamentally. Until that moment, Churchill's aim had been to remove Hitler's loathsome regime, which could probably have been achieved by the summer of 1943. Roosevelt's policy of 'Unconditional Surrender' meant in effect the removal of Germany herself from the diplomatic chessboard, a task which took two more years of bitter fighting and led directly to the division of Europe between the United States and Stalin.
The origins of Roosevelt's wartime policies are, I believe, to be found in a book entitled 'You Can't Do Business With Hitler' which was first published in mid-1941 by Douglas Miller, the former Commercial Attache to the US Embassy in Berlin. Roosevelt praised this book, which became a bestseller in America, and made Miller an Assistant to his Spymaster, William Donovan.
In his book, Miller called for America to enter the war as soon as possible and then attack Germany 'from the West' (i.e. Normandy), secure a total American victory (i.e. Unconditional Surrender) and then rebuild Europe after this victory (i.e. the Marshall Plan). As for the British, Miller wrote 'We must not worry unduly about the British peace aims; by the time this war is over the chief British aim will be their aim to please us.' That explains Roosevelt's treatment of Churchill at Casablanca and, I suspect, much since then.
I have dropped one Star in my Rating of this important book for I think the author does not give sufficient space to the Morgenthau Plan which envisaged the elimination of German industry after the war and which, bearing the signatures of both Roosevelt and Churchill, was leaked to the press in September 1944, just as the Western Allies were about to enter Germany.
The spectre of such desolation would have raised in Germany atavistic memories of the Thirty Years War, a horrific conflict which must be studied if the behaviour of the Germans in the 20th Century is to understood. Indeed, Cardinal Richelieu brought France into the Thirty Years war and Roosevelt America into the Second World War for much the same reason---both men wanted to prevent the creation of a power block stronger than their own.
Richelieu's success produced France, 'la Grande Nation'. Roosevelt's policies, including his unconditional victory, meant, as Douglas Miller pointed out in his 1941 book, that America had 'a world to gain', hence the title of my book.
His ultimate Magnum Opus on the last year of Nazi-Germany is truly a major breaktrough in the process of recognising that the German people could do nothing agianst the few nutcases and there goons on top. I hope that the German People regain there old Prussian Pride and look back to their noble and glorius history before 1918...