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Publisher's Summary

Named a Best History Book of 2019 by The Times (UK)

The astounding true story of how thousands of ordinary Germans, overcome by shame, guilt, and fear, killed themselves after the fall of the Third Reich and the end of World War II.

By the end of April 1945 in Germany, the Third Reich had fallen and invasion was underway. As the Red Army advanced, horrifying stories spread about the depravity of its soldiers. For many German people, there seemed to be nothing left but disgrace and despair. For tens of thousands of them, the only option was to choose death - for themselves and for their children. 

"Promise Me You'll Shoot Yourself" recounts this little-known mass event. Using diaries, letters, and memoirs, historian Florian Huber traces the euphoria of many ordinary Germans as Hitler restored national pride; their indifference as the Führer's political enemies, Jews, and other minorities began to suffer; and the descent into despair as the war took its terrible toll, especially after the invasion of the Soviet Union. Above all, he investigates how suicide became a contagious epidemic as the country collapsed.

Drawing on eyewitness accounts and other primary sources, "Promise Me You'll Shoot Yourself" presents a riveting portrait of a nation in crisis, and sheds light on a dramatic yet largely unknown episode of postwar Germany.

©2020 Florian Huber (P)2020 Little, Brown Spark

Critic Reviews

"Gripping ... Huber tells the shocking stories of ordinary German suicides with literary power and skill, making excellent use of unknown material." (Richard Evans, The Guardian)

"Vivid and disturbing...Though the topic is relentlessly grim, Huber portrays his subjects with empathy and offers key insights into the German mindset before, during, and after WWII. Readers will be convinced that reckoning with the war's legacy requires studying this underexamined tragedy." (Publishers Weekly)

"A remarkable book -- grim and fascinating. Florian Huber tells the story well." (Robbie Millen, The Times)

What listeners say about "Promise Me You'll Shoot Yourself"

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Insight on human capitulation and dispair

I couldnt put this down - not only did I gain access to unspoken diaries of personal tragedy, but also received important historical context. I finish by being thankful for living in the USA....its hard to fathom such a barbaric time.

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Eye opener

Perhaps the best story written on this particular time in German history.
Nothing is held back and leaves you with few questions about the mindset of the German people during the last weeks of the war.

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This book should be required reading for anyone that seeks to understand how ordinary people could be transformed into monsters.

Or were they? The author doesn’t seek to excuse anyone or to pass blame. It’s merely a case of how people went from a to b to c to z. This book shows how it wasn’t a simple transformation but a well thought out cult and manipulation of an entire country. A country whose people were already on the edge emotionally due to years of deprivation and extreme hardship. No excuses for atrocities. Not at all. More of a map. A map of “they started off here, then this happened and they went there. Then the more vulnerable ones ended up over there.” Etc. The “Leader’s” scorched earth policy left no room for post war recovery. The emotional health of the people was never a consideration. It was going to end up like this. Despite human survival instinct. It’s a must read, in my opinion.