The Day the War Ended: May 8, 1945--Victory in Europe

Martin Gilbert, Author Henry Holt & Company $30 (473p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3926-9
The beginning of the end began that April, with the liberation of the concentration camps. The Allies, sickened by their discoveries at Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen, turned vengeful. Gilbert (The First World War) relates that at Dachau, within one hour of its liberation, 500 SS troops were killed, 346 of them by one machine gun-toting American lieutenant. There was an orgy of surrender, with a million prisoners taken by the Allies in one month. The Soviets captured Berlin and went on a raping spree. Lack of trust among Allied leaders forced Gen. Montgomery to push north to secure Denmark and head off the Soviets. The Germans meekly gave up Norway but fought bitterly to the end in Czechoslovakia. With victory on May 8--coincidentally, President Truman's birthday--came the celebrations in London, Paris and New York City, but there was still work to be done. The U.S. Eighth Air Force stopped bombing Germany and started dropping food to the starving Dutch people. And the seeds of the Cold War were sown, when Stalin sentenced one million of his repatriated troops to the Gulag. Filled with personal reminiscences from people on all sides of the conflict, this comprehensive and compelling chronicle of events has the ability, even at this remove, to stun readers. Photos not seen by PW. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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