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The Fall of Berlin 1945

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The Fall of Berlin 1945 Cover

 

 

Author's Note

From Stalingrad to Berlin

When I read one particular account of a German officer captured at Stalingrad, I knew what the next book had to be. This officer, along with a group of exhausted survivors from the 297th Infantry Division, were being marched through the streets of Stalingrad — they could manage only a painful shuffle due to frostbite and starvation — when a Russian colonel pointing to the ruins around, yelled: 'That's how Berlin is going to look!'

Russian armies advancing on Germany in 1944 and 1945 measured their advance both from Stalingrad, the furthest point of German advance as well as the perceived turning point of the war, and by the distance still left to 'The Lair of the Fascist Beast' — the capital of the Reich.

The links between the two great battles were intriguing. The 8th Guards Army, the largest of Zhukov's formations attacking Berlin, was the old 62nd Army from Stalingrad. Its brutally effective commander, General Chuikov, who bestirred his officers to greater activity with hard punches, found however, that close-quarter combat in Berlin was rather different from what he had dubbed 'the Stalingrad Academy of Street-Fighting'. the Russians were taken aback by the almost suicidal bravery of fifteen-year-old Hitler Youth armed with Panzerfaust anti-tank launchers.

Hitler, on the other hand, living almost entirely off wild delusion, persuaded himself that Berlin would be a Stalingrad in reverse, with his Ninth and Twelfth Armies cutting off the Russian attackers in a surprise pincer. He refused to acknowledge that they utterly lacked the material, physical, and moral strength to launch any sort of counter-attack. And when the Russians fought their way into the centre of Berlin, they found the Chancellery of the German Reich defended by the Scandinavian SS Nordland Division and the remnants of the French SS Charlemagne. These foreign diehards were among the last to lay down their arms. It was strange to hear of such experiences from the surviving battalion commander in a darkened Parisian apartment: an old man who still receives death threats.

But the Fall of Berlin, even more than the Battle of Stalingrad, is a terrible story of civilian as well as military suffering. The annihilation of East Prussia in January and February 1945 provided an atrocious warning of Russian revenge. German villagers who had not been allowed by the Nazi authorities to flee until it was too late, found themselves treated without mercy. Soviet troops were allowed to rape, loot and destroy virtually at will. When I read in a Moscow archive Beria's reports to Stalin on the mass suicides of East German civilians, it was quite clear that neither man had any intention of curbing their troops. Far more shocking documents were to emerge later in another archive, and I must admit that I am still unable to make up my mind about the real causes of such behaviour, especially when so many Russian soldiers and officers showed genuine kindness for German women and children. Russian troops, especially those liberated from the abominable treatment which they had received in German prisoner of war camps, had much to avenge, but some of their actions almost defy belief as well as logic. The whole debate over 'rape as a weapon of war' s far from straightforward, as I think the book will show.

Several other explosive issues also emerged during the course of research in Moscow archives, but I prefer not to say anything at this stage, partly because I do not want anything to be taken out of context, but also because I need to do more research and double-checking from other directions.

Berlin is a much larger subject, both in size and scope, than Stalingrad was, and to cover the ground in a similar time — three and a half years — is a considerable challenge. There have been many more archives to visit (in France, Britain, Sweden and the United States, as well as of course Russia and Germany) and many more people to interview, both civilians and soldiers. I am quite honestly terrified of the task of turning our mountains of photocopied documents and tape-recordings into a coherent whole, but I hope that if the structure is right, then things will fall into place. The objective is for the book to come out in May 2002, exactly four years after the publication of Stalingrad.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780142002803
Author:
Beevor, Antony
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
Military - World War II
Subject:
World war, 1939-1945
Subject:
Europe - Germany
Subject:
Berlin
Subject:
World War, 19
Subject:
Berlin, Battle of, Berlin, Germany, 1945
Subject:
World War, 1939-1945 -- Germany -- Berlin.
Subject:
Berlin (Germany) History.
Subject:
Military-World War II General
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reissue ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
EDO-PS-01-12
Publication Date:
April 29, 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
528
Dimensions:
8.50x5.72x1.20 in. 1.15 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » Nazi Germany
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » Europe » General
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » Nazi Germany

The Fall of Berlin 1945 Used Trade Paper
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Product details 528 pages Penguin Books - English 9780142002803 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Beevor has wrenched a better book from the fall of Berlin than he was able to from the siege of Stalingrad. For one thing, the tight focus on the immediate area around Berlin makes it easier for the reader to follow the enormous flow of men and material than it was with a book covering the sprawling wastes of Russia. With the military issue never in doubt, Beevor is able to give more space to the civilian population than he did in his account of the Stalingrad siege....No previous text on the defeat of Germany has been so unsparing in its depiction of the miseries of the Germans themselves." (read the entire Salon review)
"Review" by , "[T]he best account yet written on the death knell of Hitler's vaunted Thousand Year Reich....Beevor has created haunting images of the war's final days."
"Review" by , "Beevor is...a superb writer, a diligent researcher and a master of battlefield detail."
"Review" by , "Beevor once more demonstrates his mastery of the sources...and his skill in describing complicated operations."
"Review" by , "[A] riveting account....Richly detailed, gracefully written: a wrenching reminder that evil wears a human face."
"Review" by , "[A]n invaluable and meticulous account."
"Review" by , "Beevor opts for direct narrative with overheard quotes from the main players, making the reader an eavesdropper to Hitler and Stalin's obiter dicta."
"Review" by , "A tale drenched in drama and blood, heroism and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal."
"Review" by , "These issues have been discussed many times but Berlin's strength is that it is a compelling narrative, with fascinating detail and a thrilling pace. Beevor's clear writing burns like a torch at night..."
"Synopsis" by , The Red Army's invasion of Berlin in January 1945 was one of the most terrifying examples of fire and sword in history. Drawing upon newly available material, bestselling author Beevor vividly recounts the experiences of the millions of civilians and soldiers caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich's final collapse.
"Synopsis" by , The Red Army's invasion of Berlin in January 1945 was one of the most terrifying examples of fire and sword in history. Frenzied by terrible memories of Wehrmacht and SS brutality, the Russians wreaked havoc, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians dead and millions more fleeing westward. Drawing upon newly available material from former Soviet files, as well as from German, American, British, French, and Swedish archives, bestselling author Antony Beevor vividly recounts the experiences of the millions of civilians and soldiers caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich's final collapse. The Fall of Berlin 1945 is a heartrending story of pride, stupidity, fanaticism, revenge, and savagery, yet it is also one of astonishing human endurance, self-sacrifice, and survival against all odds.
"Synopsis" by ,
Acclaimed for his vivid re-creations of some of the twentieth century's most significant battles, Antony Beevor is one of the best known and respected military historians writing today. He now offers readers a gripping, street-level portrait of the harrowing days of January 1945 in Berlin when the vengeful Red Army and beleaguered Nazi forces clashed for a final time. The result was the most gruesome display of brutality in the war, with tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rapes, pillage, and destruction. Hundreds of thousands of German civilians froze to death or were massacred because Nazi officials had forbidden their evacuation. Hitler, half crazed in his bunker, issued wild orders while Stalin was prepared to risk any number of his men to seize the city before the other Allies could get there.

Making full use of newly disclosed material from former Soviet files as well as from German, American, British, French, and Swedish archives, Beevor has reconstructed the different experiences of those millions caught up in the death throes of the Third Reich. The Fall of Berlin 1945 depicts not only the brutality and desperation of a city under siege but also rare moments of extreme humanity and heroism. This account also contains new revelations about the motives behind Stalin's hurried assault. Sure to appeal to all readers interested in military history and the Second World War, The Fall of Berlin 1945 promises to be the definitive treatment of the subject for years to come.

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