From Publishers Weekly
This absorbing study of the Allied occupation of Germany and Austria from 1945 to 1949 shows that the end of WWII by no means ended the suffering. A vengeful Red Army visited on German women an ordeal of mass rape, while looting the Soviet occupation zone of almost everything of value, from watches to factories. Millions of ethnic Germans were driven from Poland and Czechoslovakia, stripped of their possessions and subjected to atrocities on the way. The Western Allies behaved better, but sidestepped the Geneva Conventions, using German POWs as slave laborers and letting thousands of them die in captivity, while keeping their zones on starvation rations. Nor were the Germans, with their own death camps finally coming to the world's appalled attention, in a good position to complain. Journalist and historian MacDonogh (The Last Kaiser: A Life of Wilhelm II) gives a gripping, if choppy account of the occupation while portraying Truman, Churchill and Stalin at Potsdam as squabbling over the spoils as feral children scrabbled through the ruins. The result is a sobering view of how vengeance stained Allied victory. Photos. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Mass deportations, murder, and brutalization of helpless noncombatantsthese are the crimes one readily associates with Hitler's minions as they ravaged their way across Europe. But Macdonogh, a journalist with particular expertise in German history, convincingly illustrates that this was the fate of millions of German-speaking civilians in the period from the fall of Vienna to the Soviets to the Berlin airlift. The massive number of rapes conducted by Soviet soldiers in their zone of occupation has already been well documented. Less publicized but equally disturbing, as Macdonogh's use of eyewitness testimonies confirm, was the treatment of ethnic Germans in their enclaves in various Eastern and Central European nations. There, murder and the driving out of millions of people were routine, and the French, British, and Americans did nothing to stop them. Given the horrors visited upon Europe by the Nazis, one might be tempted to consider these atrocities as just retribution. However, Macdonogh's eloquent account of the suffering of these people is, hopefully, able to evoke strong feelings of both revulsion and compassion from most readers. Freeman, Jay
See all Editorial Reviews