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The Fall of Berlin 1945 Paperback – April 29, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 282 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

By December 1944, many of the 3 million citizens of Berlin had stopped giving the Nazi salute, and jokes circulated that the most practical Christmas gift of the season was a coffin. And for good reason, military historian Antony Beevor writes in this richly detailed reconstruction of events in the final days of Adolf Hitler's Berlin. Following savage years of campaigns in Russia, the Nazi regime had not only failed to crush Bolshevism, it had brought the Soviet army to the very gates of the capital. That army, ill-fed and hungry for vengeance, unloosed its fury on Berlin just a month later in a long siege that would cost hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides. But as Beevor recounts, the siege was also marked by remarkable acts of courage and even compassion. Drawing on unexplored Soviet and German archives and dozens of eyewitness accounts, Beevor brings us a harrowing portrait of the battle and its terrible aftermath, which would color world history for years to follow. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Covering the months from January to May in 1945, as Soviet and other Allied troops advanced to Berlin, freelance British historian Beevor (Stalingrad) opts for direct narrative with overheard quotes from the main players, making the reader an eavesdropper to Hitler and Stalin's obiter dicta. Brisk and judgmental, the narrative is studded with short sentences and summary judgments: about Nazi minister Hermann Goring, we are told that his "vanity was as ludicrous as his irresponsibility" and he looked more like " `a cheerful market woman' than a Marshal of the Reich." During the rubble-strewn city's Christmas of 1944, "the quip of that festive season was: `be practical: give a coffin.' " The book is based on material from former Soviet files as well as from German, American, British, French and Swedish archives, but the somewhat limited bibliography is disappointing, and many of the usual sources are quoted, such as Hitler's personal secretary, who took dictation in the bunker to the end. Her expectation that Hitler would suddenly produce "a profound explanation" of the war's "great purpose" says as much about German self-delusion of the time as about Hitler, but here and elsewhere, Beevor simply quotes her flatly and fails to connect the dots. However, given the scope of this book the 1945 advance on Berlin is thought to be the largest battle in history, with two and a half million Soviet troops attacking one million Germans the summary approach is inevitable.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002801
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002803
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a well researched and written account of the fall of Berlin. It fills a void somewhere between Cornelius Ryan's "The Last Battle" (excellent for the casual historian) and Read and Fisher's "The Fall of Berlin" (a more detailed and lengthy account). It's a good mesh of historical background and personal experiences from the battle. Most of the criticisms I have read about the book seem more motivated by a "Politically Correct" approach to history than by the truth. German atrocities throughout the war are well documented and are not the focus of this book. The Red Army DID(by all accounts save their own) engage in widespread rape and looting in eastern Germany and Berlin. Beevor gives a balanced account - he does not glorify German resistance, Nazism, or the Soviet advance. He simply tells what happened. Rape is a predominant theme in the book, but it was a predominant concern of the German women, and a fact of the war. This is a solid piece of work on one of the greatest human dramas in history. Don't let those with a hidden agenda steer you away from this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Beevor's new book is a worthwhile, accurate and, I think, well balanced description of the campaign leading up to the battle of Berlin and the battle itself. It confirms many suppositions, destroys some myths, and adds a fair amount of information gleaned from sources not available before the break-up of the Soviet Union. I found particularly interesting the confirmation of the imperatives of Stalin's need to take Berlin before the Americans got there, and while I knew about the atomic research conducted in Berlin, I was not aware of the development of Sarin and other poison gases in laboratories there. Also I was not aware that so many of the German units defending Berlin were in fact third country nationals, including fascist French units. The Soviet Union's terrible treatment of their own soldiers and citizens and those of their allies, released from camps and slave labor factories, is well described, as is the abysmal stupidity of the leadership on both the German and Soviet sides. And a significant proportion of the combatants, especially in the Red Army, were drunk out of their skulls on liberated wine and booze most of the time. Mr. Beevor implicitly destroys the myth that Stalin withdrew front line units from the battle and replaced them with barbarians from central Asia to do as much damage to the population as possible: the Red Army units were already well filled with Asiatic replacements, but they certainly had no monopoly on committing atrocities. Arguments among armchair generals about the U.S. Army stopping at the Elbe will undoubtedly go on forever - personally, I think Beevor's interpretation of the event is correct, and Eisenhower's strategy, based on military intelligence and political perceptions current at the time, can't be faulted.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The preponderance of space in the Central Armed Forces Museum of Moscow is devoted to the Great Patriotic War. You will see memorials to fire-scorched Byelorussia and Ukraine, bomb-devastated Stalingrad, and famine-besieged Leningrad. You'll see an entire hall dedicated to the Holocaust, with grisly displays of Nazi barbarism, including products made from the bodies of concentration-camp victims. You'll see photos of emaciated Jews as well as Czechs, Bulgarians, and Hungarians showering flowers and kisses on Red Army tanks and troops. You'll see tributes to American Lend-Lease convoys, and snapshots of Western and Soviet Allies embracing on the Elbe. Your guide will tell you how only in recent years can the truth be told about the paranoid cruelty of Stalin, Beria, and the NKVD toward "liberated" Europe and the Soviet people. But while documenting the suffering and sacrifices of the USSR, there is little mention, even today, of crimes committed by Red Army occupiers of Berlin.
I disagree with the detractors of Antony Beevor that in addressing these atrocities his book negates the heroism of the Soviet soldier. On every page, the author emphasizes the appalling conditions in which the Red Army had to wrest its victory, and the terrible cost in Soviet lives. Under-nourished, under-supplied, poorly-trained soldiers were motivated not only by the brutality of SMERSH and NKVD forces. Their "Noble Fury" was incited not only by relentless propaganda from Political Instructors or incendiary front-line correspondents such as the popular Ilya Ehrenburg. Every Soviet family had suffered personal loss during the German invasion and occupation, and every soldier was driven by hatred of the Fascist Beast.
It is the mass rape perpetrated by the Red Army which comprises the controversy of Beevor's book.
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Format: Hardcover
The facts of the story only hint at the carnage. By the beginning of 1945 the allied armies had halted after crossing the Rhine in western Germany. There they waited for a move from the Red Army in the east. It was not long in coming and was preceeded by a wave of millions of fleeing German civilians, who abandoning the occupied territories of Prussia and Silesia, had only one panicked and fearful expression on their lips: "Der Ivan Kommt!" Indeed the Russians were coming and in a massive way. They had assembled "the largest army the world had ever seen" comprising 2.5 million soldiers, over 40,000 artillery guns, 6,000 tanks and four air armies, all for the purpose of a rapid attack and capture of the capital of the Third Reich. Berlin in contrast was defended by 45,000 Wehrmacht troops and about 40,000 militia. The militia comprised the young (mostly 14 year old Hitler Youth), the old (Volkssturm), and also foreign fascist volunteers (mostly French and Latvians) who still believed in the fight against Bolshevism.
This last point is well developed by Beevor. He mentions the Nazi and fascist antipathy towards the Russian peasant army and the Soviet form of totalitarianism. The Russians in turn hated all things German. This had been building since Stalingrad and Stalin himself had deliberately stoken the flames of revenge. When unleashed on Berlin this unquenchable fire took the form of drunken violence, looting, and gang-raping of German women by vast numbers of Red Army soldiers. Here is where Beevor's book differs from the many previous descriptions of this battle. THE FALL OF BERLIN 1945 is much too dull a title for the gruesome, disturbing, and emotionally wrenching descriptions of the inhumanity of both the Wehrmacht and the Red Army.
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