The End by Ian Kershaw
The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945

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Synopsis

From the preeminent Hitler biographer, a fascinating and original exploration of how the Third Reich was willing and able to fight to the bitter end of World War II.

Countless books have been written about why Nazi Germany lost World War II, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the equally vital question of how and why it was able to hold out as long as it did. The Third Reich did not surrender until Germany had been left in ruins and almost completely occupied. Even in the near-apocalyptic final months, when the war was plainly lost, the Nazis refused to sue for peace. Historically, this is extremely rare.

Drawing on original testimony from ordinary Germans and arch-Nazis alike, award-winning historian Ian Kershaw explores this fascinating question in a gripping and focused narrative that begins with the failed bomb plot in July 1944 and ends with the German capitulation in May 1945. Hitler, desperate to avoid a repeat of the "disgraceful" German surrender in 1918, was of course critical to the Third Reich's fanatical determination, but his power was sustained only because those below him were unable, or unwilling, to challenge it. Even as the military situation grew increasingly hopeless, Wehrmacht generals fought on, their orders largely obeyed, and the regime continued its ruthless persecution of Jews, prisoners, and foreign workers. Beneath the hail of allied bombing, German society maintained some semblance of normalcy in the very last months of the war. The Berlin Philharmonic even performed on April 12, 1945, less than three weeks before Hitler's suicide.

As Kershaw shows, the structure of Hitler's "charismatic rule" created a powerful negative bond between him and the Nazi leadership- they had no future without him, and so their fates were inextricably tied. Terror also helped the Third Reich maintain its grip on power as the regime began to wage war not only on its ideologically defined enemies but also on the German people themselves. Yet even as each month brought fresh horrors for civilians, popular support for the regime remained linked to a patriotic support of Germany and a terrible fear of the enemy closing in.

Based on prodigious new research, Kershaw's The End is a harrowing yet enthralling portrait of the Third Reich in its last desperate gasps.

 

About Ian Kershaw

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Ian Kershaw is a professor of modern history at the University of Sheffield and the author of numerous works of history, including Hitler: A Biography, Fateful Choices and Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution. He lives in Manchester, England.
 
Published September 8, 2011 by Penguin Books. 596 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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But Kershaw also deftly explores the policies and attitudes that kept Germans struggling on with the war effort after all hope was gone, and prevented organized opposition to continuing the war from coalescing in the military or elsewhere.

Jul 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The New York Times

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At the core of Kershaw’s book is a single set of questions: Why did the regime last long after the war was obviously lost, why did the German Army keep fighting to the end and why, in the final hours of its existence, were the citizens of Nazi Germany willing and able to take the lives of those f...

Oct 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Guardian

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But Kershaw has given it the full narrative treatment, taking us from the aftermath of the failed bomb plot of 20 July 1944 through the German counterattack in the Ardennes, the collapse of the eastern front and the siege of Berlin, to the final scenes in the bunker and the surrender of Germany i...

Aug 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Guardian

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Kershaw's account gives a vivid impression of a world closing in on itself as the borders shrank, armies pressed in from all sides and some of the Nazis' deepest prejudices surfaced: if foreigners were untrustworthy, this was then the moment – abandoned by all so-called allies – when the Germans ...

Sep 16 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Guardian

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But Kershaw has given it the full narrative treatment, taking us from the aftermath of the failed bomb plot of 20 July 1944 through the German counterattack in the Ardennes, the collapse of the eastern front and the siege of Berlin, to the final scenes in the bunker and the surrender of Germany i...

Aug 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Wall Street Journal

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Mr. Kershaw wonders why the generals did not defy Hitler, negotiate or capitulate.

Sep 10 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Washington Times

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All the senior commanders, whatever their private thoughts, felt committed to fight to the death as long as Hitler willed it.

Sep 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Telegraph

The apocalyptic implosion of Hitler’s Reich has received such saturation attention in recent years – from the cult film Downfall to exhaustive chronicles by such senior historians as Antony Beevor, Max Hastings and David Stafford – that Sir Ian Kershaw seems a latecomer to a feast who...

Aug 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Telegraph

The subject is doubly important because so many people in the last doomed months were killed to so little purpose: concentration-camp prisoners on aimless death marches, German civilians under Allied bombing, Red Army soldiers in the last desperate battles from the Vistula to the Spree, ...

Aug 15 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

The Daily Beast

In a new book, 'The End,' the Nazi historian Ian Kershaw delivers a compelling and horrifying look at the final months of World War II and asks why Hitler and his army kept on fighting.

Sep 14 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

London Review of Books

‘Even in the last weeks,’ Kershaw notes, ‘some went in to see him demoralised and disconsolate and came away with new enthusiasm and determination.’ Albert Speer, for instance, whose efforts had done so much in the final three years of the war to increase arms production and keep it going in the ...

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Bookmarks Magazine

A respected historian of the Third Reich and World War II, Ian Kershaw has written a handful of important books on the period, including Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940–1941 (4 of 5 Stars Sept/Oct 2007), Luck of the Devil: The Story of Operation Valkyrie (2009), and an...

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

London Evening Standard

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Aug 18 2011 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

HistoryNet

In his landmark two-volume biography Hitler British historian Ian Kershaw sought to answer why 68 million Germans, including the military establishment, willingly gave such a hateful figure so much power that it cost the lives of some 40 million Europeans.

Jan 11 2012 | Read Full Review of The End: The Defiance and Des...

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