From Publishers Weekly
The author of Tornado Down, former RAF Flight Lt. Nichol was a Gulf War POW, while Last Days of Glory author Rennell is the former associate editor of the London Sunday Times. They cleverly weave WWII policy decisions dealing with POWs with firsthand accounts of POWs inside prison camps in Europe and during the forced evacuation marches many endured during the last months of the war. As the Russians advanced in summer 1944, POWs were crammed into boxcars (and, later, ships), attacked by guards in retaliation for Allied bombing of Germany and sent on extensive forced marches, described here in horrifying detail. As the war ended, some Red Cross relief convoys got through, but General Patton failed in an attempt to liberate a POW camp holding his son-in-law behind German lines. The reluctance of Russians to return liberated British and American POWs to the West was balanced by the issue of forced repatriation of former Soviet POWs who didn't want to return to the Stalinist state. Nichol and Rennell offer anecdotal evidence that some POWs were killed by the SS, and retribution by prisoners against brutal guards also occurred. In the postwar lives of a few POWs featured, incarceration took a physical and psychological toll. While offering little in the way of new information, and failing to cover fully the complete spectrum of prison camps and prisoner nationalities, the authors provide a compelling account of the ways, means and effects of mass imprisonment during the last terrible century.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The authors note that there were an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 British and American prisoners in camps across Germany in 1944 and 1945 who survived World War II. Nichol and Rennell admit that gathering precise information was a problem in their research for this book, and they remind readers that it is not a definitive history of the POW camps. Yet from such sources as interviews, diaries, and more than 60 books on the subject, they describe in vivid detail the horrendous conditions in the camps and the forced marches after the Allied landing in France on June 6, 1944, and the Russian army's advance from the east. Survivors tell of the bitter cold, illness, filth, lack of food, despair, exhaustion, and indignities. They relate their fear of being shot by the guards, their faith in God, and their homesickness. They remember how hidden radios kept them informed of the war's progress and how Red Cross parcels sometimes brought them much-needed food. An exceptional chronicle of bravery and endurance. George CohenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved