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Publisher's Summary

A monumental work of history that captures the last days of the Third Reich as never before. Swansong 1945 chronicles the end of Nazi Germany and World War II in Europe through hundreds of letters, diaries, and autobiographical accounts covering four days that fateful spring: Hitler's birthday on April 20, American and Soviet troops meeting at the Elbe on April 25, Hitler's suicide on April 30, and finally the German surrender on May 8. Side by side, we encounter vivid, first-person accounts of civilians fleeing Berlin, ordinary German soldiers determined to fight to the bitter end, American POWs dreaming of home, concentration camp survivors' first descriptions of their horrific experiences, as well as the intimate thoughts of figures such as Eisenhower, Churchill, Stalin, Joseph Goebbels, and Hitler himself. These firsthand accounts, painstakingly collected and organized by renowned German author Walter Kempowski, provide the raw material of history and present a panoramic view of those tumultuous days. The more than 1,000 extracts include a British soldier writing to his parents to tell them there are no baths, but plenty of eggs and chocolate; an American soldier describing "the tremendous burst of lilacs" as he approaches the Elbe; Mussolini wishing Hitler a happy birthday; Eva Braun bragging to a girlfriend about what a "crack shot" she's become; and much more. An extraordinary account of suffering and survival, Swansong 1945 brings to life the end of Nazi Germany and the war in Europe.

©2005 Albrecht Knaus Verlag, Munich, a division of Verlagsgruppe Random House GmbH, Munich Germany. English translation 2014 Shaun Whiteside. Foreward 2014 Alan Bance. (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good except for one bad narrator

Any additional comments?

This is a good book but not an easy-listening Ken Burns-style documentary (as I'd partly hoped). Requires concentration, since there are so many different voices in the text, along with sometimes unfamiliar German place names. Male narrator is fine but the female one is awful. She has a sort of phony finishing-school accent and sounds as though she's speaking every word through the clenched teeth of a false smile. Also she overacts horribly. As it happens, there are more male diarists in the book than female ones, so you have to listen to her less than half the time. But even that's too much.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Important, Tragic, Poignant...

Any additional comments?

This collection gives you every side of the story of the last days of WWII in the ETO. Many varying nationalities, circumstances, and viewpoints are represented, with their observations captured for all time. Simply stated, a very important read for both the casual and more serious historian. That being said, if I had it to do over again, I would have read this book on my Kindle instead of in the Audible format. The vast number of characters and the rapid pace of shifting from one to another can make it hard to stay focused on each of their important messages. I will reread to pay proper respect to their important stories. Highly recommend this compilation.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

every possible perspective made known

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

By listening to this collection of quick quotes during the last days of the war one hears the panoramic perspectives from all involved in the war. The author quotes Russians, Germans, Americans, Brits, etc, from the family members, husbands, wives, children, soldiers, military personnel and the leadership. We learn of the all aspects of feelings from hope and conviction to the desperate fear, the hardships, the horror of war, the constant worry and exhaustion. One also learns of the effects of propaganda on the public and soldiers, the lies perpetuated, the insanity of Hitler and Goebbels. If one is familiar with the subject it is easy to see how horribly Hitler betrayed of the German people and created unimaginable suffering everywhere - as quoted.

What did you like best about this story?

the perspectives one normally never hears

Have you listened to any of Eric G. Dove and Christine Williams ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

no but i will

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Panoramic perspective of the reality of war on every person it touches

Any additional comments?

Looking forward to reading the next book by this author, seems we need more translated.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A great collection

If you could sum up Swansong 1945 in three words, what would they be?

A great collection

What other book might you compare Swansong 1945 to and why?

I can't think of any book to compare it to at the moment.

What does Eric G. Dove and Christine Williams bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Excellent narrations.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

None that comes to mind.

Any additional comments?

A must-have for any World War 2 or history buffs.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • Watertown, ma, United States
  • 11-21-15

Could Not Finish Because Of Williams

I found this fascinating and such a great idea - a collage of voice illustrating the end of Nazi Germany. Running the gamut from important (Hitler in the bunker) to unimportant (an American blandly writing home), this book was right up my alley. It took about 30mins to kick into the rhythm of it. Ultimately, though, I can't continue with it because of Christine Williams and her coy, fey, read-everything-like-I'm-in-a-young-adult-novel voice. Eric Dove manages (if not always successfully) to differentiate between the voice of people he's reading. Williams just doesn't care. Everyone sounds the same. Her "listen to my charmingly empathic style of speaking" gets old quickly and, for me, made me cringe every time she spoke.

Really, really sad the producer allowed this.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Needs a better explanation for each diarist

What would have made Swansong 1945 better?

An explanation of the background of each diarist, not just their DOB, but place of birth, and where they lived during the war.

Would you ever listen to anything by Walter Kempowski and Shaun Whiteside (translator) again?

probably not

Would you be willing to try another one of Eric G. Dove and Christine Williams ’s performances?

no

Any additional comments?

Readers were awkward. At times, their voices light and cheery when something sad was written, and vice versa.