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After the Reich Hardcover – July 3, 2007

147 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.)
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From Booklist

Mass deportations, murder, and brutalization of helpless noncombatants—these 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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2nd prt. edition (July 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465003370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465003372
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.5 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

my blog for more info (link):

Giles MacDonogh (born 1955) is a British writer, historian and translator.

He has worked as a journalist most notably for the Financial Times (1988-2003), where he covered food, drink and a variety of other subjects. He has also contributed to most of the other important British newspapers, and is a regular contributor to the Times. As a historian, MacDonogh concentrates on central Europe, principally Germany.

He was educated at the City of London School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read modern history. He later carried out historical research at the École pratique des hautes études in Paris.

MacDonogh is the author of thirteen books, chiefly about German history, but also on gastronomy and wine. In 1988 he won a Glenfiddich Special Award for his first book A Palate in Revolution (Robin Clark) and was shortlisted for the André Simon Award. His books have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Russian German, Chinese, Bulgarian and Polish.

His latest book is 1938 Hitler's Gamble. Writing in the Spectator Magazine, Graham Stewart said "Giles MacDonogh has repeatedly shown himself to be in the front rank of British scholars of German history. The depth of his human understanding, the judiciousness of his pickings from source material and the quality of his writing make this book at once gripping and grave."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Miller on October 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I had just finished reading two books The Germans in Normandy, and the Bitter Road to Freedom, a new history of the Liberation of Europe. I thought After the Reich would be a good follow up to find out the rest of the story. The book did not disappoint me. I took the book with me during a recent vacation and thought that I might be better served reading a historical fiction or more contemporary novel. The book exceeded my expectations ! At times, it was a bit academic and presumed a previous knowledge of history, geography, art, literature, etc which only sharpened my desire to learn more. I found the antecedote comments of the author and the quotes and comments of persons who had real life experiences during the period to be enlightening. The author skillfully tied the events and circumstances to the people that lived them. I felt as if I was reading a first person history of people who had witnessed the times and events. There were so many facts that were presented which were outside of the information normally contained in history books that I was shocked and unaware of what had occurred during the period of occupation. I was assigned to an Army Military, counter intelligence unit, in Germany in 1963 as a young draftee and was surprised that there were still DP's in Germany at that time. This book helped portray how significant the Displaced Person issue was after the war and what a colossal task the Allies had ahead of them to sort out the damage to persons and property. I believe the author was honest and straighforward, without sugar coating, the roles of the various participants responsible for the occupation of Germany. I wondered, as I read the book, how I would have personally dealt with the events if I had been a US soldier as part of the occupation.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Minutes after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, a co-worker from Australia told me that the attacks were directed against "tax-paying citizens" who supported the "murderous" policies of the American government. Any individual who chooses to live and work in the United States is therefore, whether they are conscious of it or not, giving support to any action or policy of the government. They are thus implicitly guilty for any government actions and hence legitimate targets for those who have experienced repression or violence due to these actions.

This is the "collective guilt" hypothesis and has found many adherents throughout history, and as this book outlines in gruesome detail, was manifested in the aftermath of World War II. Confident of victory and bent on revenge, many commanders and soldiers in the Allied forces proceeded to take their frustrations out on whoever was left in Germany, with sex and age not being an impediment. It did not matter whether or not German citizens had consciously supported the Nazi government, or whether they did so out of fear for their lives and the lives of their families. As the author remarks, just the ability to speak German frequently was proof enough of this support. The carnage against Germans in post-war Europe was unrelenting, with rapes, crucifixions, hangings, forced starvation, and forced marches being widespread and taking place with great enthusiasm by Russian, British, and American troops of occupation. Having endured incredible hardships in battle they did not hesitate to take matters in their own hands and direct their anger towards those who "supported" the German government. Women were "responsible" for giving birth to German soldiers, so they must be punished accordingly.
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116 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Kevin R. Austra on July 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
AFTER THE REICH is a good compilation documenting the total collapse of the German government and of a German people at the complete mercy of the victors. The book is complete with many first person narratives of the difficult lean years following the end of the European war. The account makes no judgement as to whether the Germans deserved what they got or whether the Allies were too harsh on a people that they, for better or worse, gained responsibility for once an area was overrun. It really becomes a question as to whether or not you view Germany as liberated or conquered.

Much of this story has been told before and appeared in various books such as THE LAST DAY OF THE WAR, THE LAST 100 DAYS, THE BATTLE OF BERLIN, and so on. I also read a German book, loosely translated, THE OCCUPIERS AND THE OCCUPIED. As such you find many of the same themes: Bombed out cities, forced evacuations, winters with no heat, households with no food, and nasty deeds committed by the Red Army and its clients. What I did find new with this book was more detailed information about the fate of the German territories and population east of the Oder Neisse line, as well as the remaining German population in East Prussia. There was also quite a bit about how the vengeful Czechs were apt pupils of their former masters and took revenge to the extreme.

The book also spends several chapters discussing Austria and how quickly the Austrians disassociated themselves from the Germans and Germany. It is not difficult to imagine the Austrians flying the swastika one day and digging through their closets to display Austrian flags the next.

The book's narrative timeline begins during the last months of war. Only a year prior to the surrender the Third Reich occupied almost half of Europe.
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