Bessel, Richard.


1st ed., 2009. Xv + 522 pp., photo-plates + maps. D.j., 24 x 15cm. FINE. At the beginning of 1945, Germany experienced the greatest outburst of deadly violence that the world has ever seen. As many as a million people died violent deaths in January alone. That stark fact provides the starting point for this book, which examines Germany's emergence from the most terrible catastrophe in modern history. When the Second World War ended, millions had been murdered ; millions of survivors had lost their families, homes and health ; cities and towns had been reduced to rubble and were littered with corpses. Yet people lived on, and began rebuilding their lives in the most inauspicious of circumstances. This is the story of Germany in 1945, a story of life after death. Bombing, military casualties, territorial loss, economic collapse, social disintegration, and the processes of denazification gave Germans a deep sense of their own victimhood, which would become central to how they emerged from the trauma of war and total defeat, turned their backs on the Third Reich and its crimes, and focused on their own personal concerns. Germany's transition to a period of relative peace, prosperity and civilized behaviour is the hinge on which Europe's twentieth century turned. For years we have concentrated on how Europe slid into tyranny, violence, war and genocide; this book describes how humanity began to get back out.

Share this book