'Fascinating, extraordinary, gripping' - Jeremy Paxman. The Storming of Berlin had been the Red Army's dream of vengeance ever since the German's invasion of Russia in the summer of 1941. Antony Beevor has reconstituted the experience of those millions caught up in the nightmare crescendo of the Third Reich's final defeat.
Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher and industry reviews
'Fascinating, extraordinary, gripping' Jeremy Paxman
UK Kirkus review
While researching his successful and highly acclaimed study of the battle of Stalingrad, Antony Beevor read the promise given by Russian guards to German prisoners marching into captivity through the battle-ravaged city ruins: 'That's how Berlin is going to look.' Beevor decided immediately where his talents would take him next - the Gotterdammerung of Berlin in 1945. His winning formula has remained the same, with a more polished writing style, making this book even better than its predecessor, and a seminal work on the subject. Admittedly the subject is not the history-changing struggle that was Stalingrad; in 1945 Nazi Germany was in its death throes, the battle for Berlin merely the coup de grace. However, this makes the story all the more poignant, and it is certainly a gripping one. The capture of Berlin was a bloody, protracted struggle with nearly 80,000 Russian casualties. Beevor meticulously documents the course of events, dispelling myths as he goes (for instance, he proves that there were no British SS volunteers defending Berlin, but there were divisions from France and Scandinavia). Until the last moment German soldiers, generals and civilians believed the Western Allies would somehow join with them and attack the Bolsheviks. Many civilians refused to believe Germany had actually declared war on America; Goebbels had told them the opposite. Perhaps the most controversial issue is the constant reference to the violent rapes that took place as the Russian armies advanced remorselessly on the capital, brutalizing any women they could find - including Russian ones. There were an estimated 100,000 rapes in Berlin (often multiple) and 1.4 million in the approach to the city. Suicides, venereal disease, abortions and illegitimate births were the virtually unspoken of revenge for Stalingrad. Antony Beevor has produced an exhaustively researched bestseller that will stir up controversy for years to come. The quality of the writing comes over on many levels; the detached and yet understated portrayal of the rapes makes the information all the more credible, as the author neither condemns nor condones, but reports the facts. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he vowed, 'Give me ten years and you will not recognize Germany.' His prophecy came true, but not as he had envisaged. (Kirkus UK)
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