The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945

Ian Kershaw. Penguin Press, $35 (576p) ISBN 978-1-59420-314-5
Kershaw, author of the definitive biography of Hitler, is unsurpassed as an analyst of the Third Reich's inner dynamics. His latest work addresses a question as significant as it is overlooked. The Third Reich fought to a self-destructive finish--something rare in war's history. Kershaw's narrative approach establishes the nuances of "an integrated history of disintegration." It begins with the aftermath of the July 20, 1944, attempt on Hitler's life: the final internal turning point for the Nazi regime. It continues through German reactions to the Wehrmacht's summer collapse in the west and the Red Army's autumn penetrations into Germany, through the ephemeral optimism generated by the Ardennes counter-attack, to the final overrunning of the Reich and the regime's desperate response of unprecedented domestic terror. Kershaw makes short work of the argument that German resistance was sustained because of Allied demands for unconditional surrender. Nor did the people back the regime from conviction. The majority of Germans had no alternative. Raw terror, an officer corps willing to fight for the homeland, and Hitler's demonic personality were the Reich's sustaining pillars--and its instruments of self-destruction. Kershaw's comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation. (Sept. 12)
Reviewed on: 07/04/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
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