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The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 Hardcover – September 8, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Kershaw's comprehensive research, measured prose, and commonsense insight combine in a mesmerizing explanation of how and why Nazi Germany chose self-annihilation." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[A]superb examination of the final defeat of Hitler's excellent portrait of the regime's death throes." — Booklist (starred review)

"This is an astonishing story well told by the reigning English-speaking master of Third Reich history...A carefully considered and powerfully told saga." — Kirkus (starred review)

About the Author

Ian Kershaw is the author of Fateful Choices; Making Friends with Hitler, which won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography; and the definitive two-volume biography of Hitler, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. The first volume was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction, and the second volume won the Wolfson Literary Award for History and the inaugural British Academy Prize.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; First Edition edition (September 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594203148
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594203145
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.9 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

137 of 144 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ian Kershaw, the author of a number of excellent books on the Third Reich including a fine biography of Hitler, asks a key question in this book: when when it became obvious that Germany would lose the war, and continue to suffer devastating destruction, why did the Nazis continue to fight on in futility? The author first sketches the issue in a preface and then identifies the "dramatis personae" or key players in the drama in brief bios. Then in a substantial introduction, he outlines the issues and explanations that have been offered. While not a book of military history as such, there is certainly enough discussion of the Reich's military posture during and after key battles to satisfy those with such interests.

Many explanations have been put forward to explain this surprising development, for example that the civilian population was "bought off" by some of the fruits of the war; that an overwhelming popular consensus continued to support Hitler's government; a pervasive feeling that the Germans had no other alternative but to continue fighting; the effective use of terror to cow the population; and the military code of honor. The author focuses on some additional and probably more fundemental reasons. The "charismatic rule" of Hitler continued to mesmerize the civil population; a strategy of "playing for time" so that new miracle weapons and division among the allies could fully develop; and surprisingly, the near successful assassination attempt on Hitler unleashed tremendous popular support.
So in Kershaw's view, the answer lies in far more than the application of terror, though that was certainly a factor.
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96 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Keith A. Comess VINE VOICE on September 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ian Kershaw needs no introduction to readers of WW-II history. His latest installment, "The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 claims to tread new ground by investigating the cause(s) of continued German fighting to the point of complete destruction of the state; a rare occurrence, according to the author. This book explores the reasons behind ongoing resistance, despite the obvious consequences of this self-destructive course of action. To accomplish this, Kershaw focuses on the attitudes and actions of the 4 primary Nazi leaders of the closing era (Goebbels, Bormann, Speer and Himmler) and secondarily on the senior military leaderships' posture. The story is amplified by extensive information culled from primary sources on the general population and it concludes with a summary chapter on "the anatomy of self-destruction". This is a good book, well-written and it provides a convenient one-volume synthesis of the topic; yet, it is not the unique effort asserted by the author in the preface.

It is quite apparent that Hitler enjoyed certain insights into the political nature of his potential opponents and cunningly implemented them initially to great success both domestically and internationally. So, given the barrage of pandering to the "volk" consciousness (in the form of German "master race" propaganda) and the overwhelming victories of the early years, it is hardly surprising that he successfully penetrated the core beliefs of the vast majority of his countrymen, imbuing them (and him) with a mutually reinforcing sensation of a shared and manifest destiny, this as destined rulers of the European continent. As has been written many times, Hitler was Germany's destiny and that destiny was war. As noted in 1935 by the British historian H.A.L.
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83 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on September 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Historian Ian Kershaw has written a very well researched account of World War II from the time of the attempt on Adolf Hitler's life in July of 1944 through the post Germany surrender in May of 1945. Kershaw attempts to answer the question why the Germans chose the course of action they did when the war was hopelessly lost.

The big four below Hitler were Martin Bormann, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, and Albert Speer each responsible for their own area of "expertise." Each province or region had its own governor referred to as a gauleiter that ruled with an iron fist over their specific area. Oaths were required to follow Hitler under all circumstances.

This is a book on pain and suffering, and Author Kershaw relates in considerable detail the hardships ordinary Germans suffered when they were being squeezed in by the Americans and British from the west and the Russians from the east with capitulation to the west preferable to surrender to the Soviets.

Hitler's underlings stressed the importance of dying in battle to surrender to the enemy while they, themselves, often were planning their own exit from Germany. A few die hard loyalists such as Admiral Karl Donitz and Joseph Goebbels remained loyal to their Fuhrer to the end. I found it interesting to see the rivalry and even outright hatred some of Hitler's henchmen had for each other. Martin Bormann was able to create a misunderstanding between Hitler and Hermann Goring that caused Goring's ouster from the party.

Hitler's popularity was waning even though an individual faced execution if caught expressing negative views. The German populace was sick of war and wondered where these so-called "miracle weapons" were that were supposed to deliver them from the enemy.
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