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After Hitler: The Last Ten Days of World War…
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After Hitler: The Last Ten Days of World War II in Europe

by Michael Jones

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Showing 4 of 4
“a brilliant exploration of the final days of the European theater, valuable in its military analysis and generous use of eyewitness accounts.”

To read my full review at the New York Journal of Books, click on the link below:

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/after-hitler ( )
  kswolff | Oct 5, 2016 |
3.5 stars

This is a weird hybrid of a book. It is supposedly a chronological account of the last ten days of the war in Europe [the period between Hitler’s suicide and the actual end of hostilities in Yugoslavia and Bohemia]. It wanders off chronology a bit to cover some topics in somewhat greater depth and much of the text is long direct quotes from memoirs, diaries and the like. The book works and I enjoyed reading it. There is a clear slant [think readers of the British newspaper the Guardian who were mildly pro-Soviet but not slavish fellow travelers] but it is easy to read around it as the author makes no attempt to hide his leanings. It is also somewhat more pro-Eisenhower than the record deserves. However it doesn’t work as a popular history because it presumes too much prior knowledge but isn’t of sufficient analytical depth for a serious student. It worked for me because the diaries et al work for showing period mentalities largely untainted by the not yet quite started Cold War. It is also quite good at showing just how messy ending a war that vast was. There was no neat ‘and then peace began’ but rather a most untidy multiday wind down. ( )
  agingcow2345 | Feb 4, 2016 |
After Hitler – It lasted a little longer than people think.

After Hilter is a well written and researched history of the 10 days after the death of Hitler on April 30th 1945 and when the final surrender was made. This is a welcome addition to the cannon of historical research on the end of the war and in doing so reminds people that the war did not end immediately on the death of Hitler. What this book does do is make the case that Hitler’s death made the end of the war more likely even though there would be thousands of deaths before the surrender eventually came.

Michael Jones has given the book a structure that follows a countdown formula that makes things easier to read for the general reader, while at the same time he does take a thematic approach, which makes the complex international politics and the diplomacy more understandable when considering the ongoing war. Jones also shows why the West and East celebrate on different days the Victory in Europe, 8th May in the Western Europe and the 9th May in Eastern Europe and in particular Russia.

We also see the mutual mistrust amongst the Allies especially when the Big 3 had agreed upon the division of Germany at Yalta in February 1945 and then its implementation as they reached Berlin. The suspicion of the Soviet aims through came to the fore especially considering the Soviet’s Armies during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944 while they watched the Germans destroy the Polish leaders who were opposed to the communist Soviets.

This book not only reminds us not only that after Hitler’s death in his will he appointed Admiral Dönitz, head of the navy, as Reichspräsident not Führer an avowed Nazi to the core who would later be sentenced to 10 yrs at Nuremburg. What Jones does is highlight is that the military commanders were not only having to lead their war machines they were also the front of their country’s diplomatic and acting as proconsul, not easy at the best of times even harder at this point in history.

The over arching theme of this book is the rivalries amongst all the allies which did not help the crisis and could have undermined their cooperation and the rivalry that grew from here would lead to the Cold War, as Churchill described the coming down of an Iron Curtain across Europe.

What Jones also does is show the final death throes of Germany, the millions of displaced people, the refugees the Red Army raping their way across Germany, which caused Stalin to step in to prevent the breakdown of order in his ranks. (The book overlooks that the Western Allies were also guilty of as much rape and pillage as their Russian counterparts but that is still part of current research.)

For those of us who enjoy historical research the notes and bibliography are excellent as is the scholarship and writing of Michael Jones. If I were to make a complain there is not enough discussion or exploration of the Soviet side of the war but that is pretty general across the board as most of that scholarship is in Poland, Germany and other countries that suffered at the Soviet Union’s hands, and as yet to be translated for the Western reader.

This is an exciting and interesting addition to the final days of the war in which many will learn some very interesting facts and broaden one’s knowledge further. An excellent read for all those interested on how the war finally ended and what was the basis for the Cold War. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Mar 15, 2015 |
I have to admit that sometimes I ask myself, 'How much of the Second World War continues to remain mired in myths and legends?' Each time I get tired of reading monographs on this time period I find a volume that reinvigorates my interest. Michael Jones has managed to do this with every book he has put out on the war. I can confidently say that I, someone who has been reading on this period for over a decade, continue to be amazed by the information he manages to convey and unearth. While not everything that's found among these pages is original research, the narrative Jones has crafted is compelling and once more shows that even if some believe this time period has become over-saturated (every now and then I find myself among those 'some'), there are still areas that need more focus, attention, and rigorous research.

The premise of this text relies on looking at the last ten days of the war after Adolf Hitler commits suicide in his bunker. There are numerous vignettes that build a narrative based on information about events from earlier years of the war, but in one form or another they all follow the threads that Jones weaves to come back to these fateful and climactic ten days. One of the more controversial issues the author deals with is rape on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. This is a subject that has yet to be fully explored by scholars for many reasons, but slowly more pieces of the puzzle are making their way into recent monographs (two recent examples are: "The Soviet occupation of Germany" by Filip Slaveski and "What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American GI in World War II France" by Mary Louise Roberts). My biggest issue is the broad brush that's often used to paint the entirety of the Red Army as guilty of some rather large arbitrary number of rapes in either Berlin alone or all of Germany. Jones adds to the puzzle by showing that the situation was much more complicated as, with one example, Polish forces under Red Army command perpetrated their own brand of justice on the Germans. Before the storming of Berlin the 1st Polish Army 'was forced to draw up a disciplinary ordinance to curb the wilder excesses of its soldiers' (44). Similar orders were read out to the Red Army as well, and for good reason. There were also instances when justice took the form of on the spot executions as when a Red Army colonel found an NKVD soldier guilty of rape and offered him his pistol with one bullet to end his life within a minute 'with some self respect', or else he'd finish him off as the 'coward' he was (54-55).

Throughout the text one of the main themes the author continues to stress are the choices made by the western allies and the Soviets in regards to actions on the ground, which had major consequences for each side. For instance, the promises made to the Soviets by Roosevelt and his administration in regards to Lend Lease were soon called off by Truman who attempted to utilize Lend Lease shipments as a bargaining chip, a move the Soviets were loathe to entertain. Furthermore, Montgomery's move at Lüneburg Heath was co-opted by the Dönitz government to fulfill their needs and treated as an armistice rather than an unconditional surrender, something the Soviets were angered by but allowed in lieu of being able to sign an unconditional surrender for the remainder of German troops still operating throughout Europe at a place and date of their choosing. Still, even those wishes were upset by the signing of the surrender of the German Wehrmacht at Rheims instead of Berlin, and more so by a lowly Soviet representative who was simply available, rather than Marshal Zhukov. In part the signing at Rheims was the fault of Eisenhower who was keen on ending the war as soon as possible and wanted peace yet needed to simultaneously keep in mind the wishes of his Soviet allies, who were not always as forthcoming as they should have been.

Aside from the above, some of the more interesting discussions revolved around the Prague Uprising and the role of Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army in helping the resistance fight their German occupiers until they could no longer hold out with the Red Army making its way to Prague for a liberation of their own of the last Eastern European capital still under German control. Additionally, the resistance of a Georgian Legion battalion on the Dutch Island of Texel was a complete surprise to me, as was how the Soviets treated the survivors and the memory of this incident. Overall, I can't praise the author enough for what he's done in this volume. Taking a look at the last ten days from the point of view of Soviet, American, British, German, and even Canadian eye-witness accounts brings an original look at the chaos of the final days of the Second World War. On May 8 and 9 a reprieve for many occurred as VE Day was celebrated. And soon enough the alliance that so many worked so hard to form will crumble as old issues creep up once again to create a new threat in the form of a Cold War (one whose language in many ways becomes recycled, by both sides, from the rhetoric they worked out so well during the Second World War).

There were some weaknesses that I encountered. I am disappointed in the system of 'endnotes' used here as it made tracing information more difficult than it needed to be and I believe footnotes would have been the better alternative as this is to a large extent a scholarly work. There were references to the Warsaw Uprising (August 1944) but they were somewhat inaccurate and dismissive of the Red Army and Stalin. In many ways this is a perfect example of an area that continues to wait for further scholarship as current volumes are still vague and greatly lacking when it comes to the Soviet side of things. Finally, some of the material here is gathered from various internet websites that, while overall presenting useful and interesting information, are not always accurate. Aside from these minor issues, this is a highly recommended volume and a great addition to literature on both the waning days of the Second World War and the foundations that were being set by the western allies and Soviet Union in what would become the Cold War. ( )
  Kunikov | Feb 3, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451477014, Hardcover)

From the acclaimed author of The King's Mother and Bosworth 1485—a fascinating look at ten days that changed the course of history…

On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a bunker in Berlin. But victory over the Nazi regime was not celebrated in western Europe until May 8. Why did a peace agreement take so much time? How did this messy, complicated conflict coalesce into its unlikely endgame?

After Hitler shines a light on ten fascinating days after that infamous suicide that changed the course of the twentieth century. Combining exhaustive research with masterfully paced storytelling, Michael Jones recounts the Führer’s frantic last stand; the devious maneuverings of his handpicked successor, Karl Dönitz; the grudging respect Joseph Stalin had for Churchill and FDR, as well as his distrust of Harry Truman; the bold negotiating by General Dwight D. Eisenhower that hastened Germany’s surrender but drew the ire of the Kremlin; the journalist who almost scuttled the ceasefire; and the thousands of ordinary British, American and Russian soldiers caught in the swells of history, from the Red Army’s march on Berlin to the liberation of the Nazis’ remaining concentration camps. Through it all, Jones traces the shifting loyalties between East and West that sowed the seeds of the Cold War, and nearly unraveled the Grand Alliance.

In this gripping, eloquent, and even-handed narrative, the spring of 1945 comes alive—a fascinating time when nothing was certain, and every second mattered…

INCLUDES PHOTOS

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:08 -0400)

"From the acclaimed author of The King's Mother and Bosworth 1485 -- a fascinating look at ten days that changed the course of history.... With the world at war, ten days can feel like a lifetime.... On April 30, 1945, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in a bunker in Berlin. But victory over the Nazi regime was not celebrated in western Europe until May 8, and in Russia a day later, on the ninth. Why did a peace agreement take so much time? How did this brutal, protracted conflict coalesce into its unlikely endgame? After Hitler shines a light on ten fascinating days after that infamous suicide that changed the course of the twentieth century. Combining exhaustive research with masterfully paced storytelling, Michael Jones recounts the Fuhrer's frantic last stand; the devious maneuverings of his handpicked successor, Karl Dönitz; the grudging respect Joseph Stalin had for Churchill and FDR, as well as his distrust of Harry Truman; the bold negotiating by General Dwight D. Eisenhower that hastened Germany's surrender but drew the ire of the Kremlin; the journalist who almost scuttled the cease-fire; and the thousands of ordinary British, American, and Russian soldiers caught in the swells of history, from the Red Army's march on Berlin to the liberation of the Nazis' remaining concentration camps. Through it all, Jones traces the shifting loyalties between East and West that sowed the seeds of the Cold War and nearly unraveled the Grand Alliance. In this gripping, eloquent, and even-handed narrative, the spring of 1945 comes alive -- a fascinating time when nothing was certain, and every second mattered.... INCLUDES PHOTOS"--… (more)

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