Friday, March 30, 2012

Off the shelf...

Just wrapped up The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 yesterday. The subject matter is off the beaten path, in that there have been a blue million books written on the final military battles in Europe, and ten times that number done about zomg teh last days of Hitler!!1!, but this book focuses on the people and the bureaucracy behind the lines, and how and why the country had to be ground into paste rather than surrendering before it was utterly destroyed. This is, after all, the same country that threw in the towel while it was still on French territory in the previous war, in hopes of averting exactly what happened in 1945.

If you're in an eschatalogical mood, there'll even be the occasional resonant scene, such as the German Finance Minister, dutifully rearranging deck chairs up 'til the end, being criticized by Goebbels, Reichsminister of Crazy, in March of '45 for relying too heavily on regressive consumer taxes instead of progressive income taxes; trying to balance the budget on the backs of the 99%, as it were. (No word on how tax return forms were to get from Allied occupied zones and through Zhukov's lines to Berlin...)

10 comments:

SGB said...

Great book. Obsessed with details until the final moments weren't they.

Matt said...

Or you could just watch what's going on here in the U.S. today....

Bubblehead Les. said...

"But I was only Following Orders!"

Bram said...

What a powerful and dangerous tool denial is. The Kaiser and his crew were realists - the Nazi's not so much.

Borepatch said...

Another book on a similar topic is "Hitler's Beneficiaries" about how the middle class benefited from the Nazi system (and how that slowed down the war effort). It covers a longer period (pre-war as well as war), but it explains quite a lot about the popularity of the Nazi party, particularly in the early years.

DirtCrashr said...

Details are important when everything goes on your Permanent Record - the Internet does it for us now...

Anonymous said...

for another view try
THE U.S. ARMY IN THE OCCUPATION OF GERMANY
1944-1946
by
Earl F. Ziemke
First Printed 1975

its online, and with some work, downloadable
http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Occ-GY/

Tom O'B

Windy Wilson said...

I'll have to look up that book and the one Borepatch mentioned. I'm reading Richard Evans's trilogy, "The Coming of the Third Reich", "The Third Reich in Power", and "The Third Reich at War", for a detailed account of the process. The Germans didn't wake up one day and say, "Let's be monsters and turn Europe into smoking rubble, kill millions and make our country the subject of thousands of questionable analogies for 70 years", although some wanted to fundamentally change Germany and Europe, and others wondered how all these thugs in snappy uniforms came to have such unlimited power over everyone else.

Heartless Libertarain said...

Somewhat ironic that Japan, the empire of the samurai and bushido, surrendered while still holding onto their sizeable conquests on mainland Asia, and before a single Allied soldier had set foot on the Home Islands. Whilst Germany, heir to a realist tradition in politics, had to be almost completely crushed before surrendering.

What a difference a small glimmer of sanity at the very top makes.

Anonymous said...

Well, in Japan, the official Leader (a literal god in the official ideology) was looking for a way to end the war before it got to the "babies on bayonets" stage in Tokyo.

In Germany, the Leader (and his entire ruling cabal) were all for the apocolyptic "Fine! We'll burn down EVERYTHING around us! The people deserve it anyway -- they didn't fight hard enough!" (You would think that the FBI would have recalled that nearly fifty years later in Waco -- after all their own shrinks and profilers told them that would happen if they went all ninja suits on Koresh.)

Of course, some German leaders were willing to acknowledge reality -- but were afraid of the twin threats of the Soviet liquidation teams and the SS liquidation teams. . . the little sidebar in British military history known as "The Race to the Baltic" was the result -- get to the town of Wismar before the Russkies, sealing off the North German coast and occupied Denmark from the "People's Justice" of both the NKVD and the SS, and the German military could surrender in relative safety.

Weird as it sounds, we gave Japan a better "out" than Germany had. Although it took a pair of atomic bombs to do it.

Geodkyt