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 was 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. Even 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.
©2011 Ian Kershaw (P)2011 Gildan Media Corp
"Kershaw's comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation." (Publishers Weekly)
"[A]superb examination of the final defeat of Hitler's tyranny...an excellent portrait of the regime's death throes." (Booklist)
"This is an astonishing story well told by the reigning English-speaking master of Third Reich history.... A carefully considered and powerfully told saga." (Kirkus)
Exploding the myth of the 'professional' Wehrmacht, standing aloof from Nazi politics, this book investigates why Germany followed Hitler into the abyss. As in Ian Kershaw's other books on WW2, his research is meticulous, and the narrative is logical and enlivened by extracts from contemporary diaries. It is a truly horrifying story. I liked Sean Pratt's narration though I found his pronunciation occasionally idiosyncratic.
The End is a study of how Germany kept their civilian and military committed to World War II to the end in spite of it being clear that the war was lost, especially after the successful Allied landings in Normandy. While I think there is nothing very surprising in this book (German fear of the Russian Army during the war is well known as is the power of the Nazi government to enforce its edicts), the book held together for me reasonably well in spite of my having read a good amount about this war. There was nothing very new, but neither did the book ever get boring.
Mr Kershaw is a known expert on Adolph Hitler and on Germany during the Nazi period and, although his views may diverge from the commonly held belief that Hitler was Nazi Germany, his knowledge about how Germany perservered until the end of the war as a single state without anyone signing a separate treaty with the Western Powers is of considerable interest. The ability of the Wehrmacht to successfully resist the British, Canadian and US Armies in France, Belgium and Western Germany was always been a puzzle to me considering that it was also fighting the Russians in the East and that the populations and economies of the countries it was fighting were much larger than that of Germany.
While not breaking any new ground (for me, at least), it did successfully piece together all of the separate threads which held Germany together and proved helpful and informative. This is, of course, not a replacement for a study of the war as a whole, but a successful adjunct to that part of a general study that covers the closing period of that war. I recommend it on that basis.
52, retired soldier and surgeon. Teach Combat Surgery and Military History and hold the rank of Brigadier. Lost wife, love dogs, ski to fast
So many say there is so little left to see in WWII. It has been all said before. But I would say people like Kershaw bring a revisionist eye to what we now know happened with the release of so many parliamentary papers. Why did the who Nazi edifice hold together even when it was doomed. Why could the US, UK, French, Australian etc in the west just not move forward as expected by the generals and ultimately why did the German people not just throw in the towel. Just say enough is enough.
Its an excellent and scholarly achievement. Well do. Having listened once already I have already started to listened again. (And being a member since 1996 I have many 100's to select from and this is one of the best)
I am a lover of history and the fantastic tales of human achievement (or folly). Sometimes, a grand author captures my imagination.
I was drawn to this book due to my interest in the period and my fascination with how a nation could so embrace a philosophy that is so alien to the rest of us today. I was absolutely enthralled by the subject matter and the detail descriptions of some of the more colorful and yet abhorrent characters of this book. To me atleast, the book explains in detail the pure absurdity of the final months of the war and the total inability of the powers that be to change the outcome of destruction that Germany faced. There really was no alternative to Hitler. I truly wish that Audible release more Ian Kershaw books on WWII fairly soon. This is wonderful reading (listening) and if you like history, this must not be missed.
I'm 66. I've read Audiobooks now for 6 years. After an assault, I had minor brain damage and couldn't read. Audible got me back to books
The facination of "The End" was Hitler's third war, the war against his own people
The failed plot to kill Hitler.
This is the first time I've listened to Mr. Pratt's work.
As an animal lover, I was angered by Hitler's order to euthenize all the pets.
"The End" gives the reader a "you are there" perspective more powerful than "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich."
First off, I was always curious as to how the Germans continued on the fight as long as they did. they were outnumbered on all fronts both militarily and economically but managed to continue the carnage way longer than the situation would seemingly allow. this book delves into the how and why this happened. really interesting. the only thing I struggled with was the narrator. I got used to him but he wasn't my favorite
I am fascinated by the Nazi's, almost to the point of obsession. The nature of this malady surrounds the question "how did this happen??"
Kershaw's account adds detail and context. I learned a bit more about the effect of Goebbel's propaganda, as well as the extent to which Nazism was interwoven into the culture. I found it horrifying, but illuminating, to learn how local peoples court's pronounced, and carried out, death sentences on their fellow citizens, right up to the end; even after the war was clearly lost. I was also amazed to learn the degree to which the German's continued their allegiance to administrative bureaucracy, again, right up until the end.These stories were repetitive, but they really demonstrate the mania of the German populace at the time.
I also gained a better appreciation for the horror of Bolshevik conquest, and occupation. I kinda figured that was bad, but Kershaw makes clear how bad. Its funny (not haha) how I was able to feel sympathy for Germany.
Bottom line - this is a good book if you are also fascinated by the Nazi's, or WWII history. If not, it will probably just depress you and cause you to lose more faith in humanity. Narration is not an issue for this audio.
In terms of the content, I can't say for sure, because I only got halfway through the introduction. The narration was so grating that I quit the book then, and returned it. While the narrators voice is clear and pleasant, he chooses the worst times to pause, like smack in the middle of a sentence, where it is both disconcerting and distracting. The books introduction was very good though, at least in content.
periods and commas, in all of the wrong places.
Avid reader of fiction and non-fiction. PhD in Astrophysics. Hobbies include Wagnerian opera, photography, and travel.
Fascinating historical account, but the mispronunciations of German terms and names was at times distracting.
Richard J Evan's "The Third Reich at War"
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