The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45
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The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,012 ratings  ·  124 reviews
From the preeminent Hitler biographer, a fascinating and original exploration of how the Third Reich was willing and able to fight to the bitter end of World War II.

Countless books have been written about why Nazi Germany lost World War II, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the equally vital question of how and why it was able to hold out as long as it did....more
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published September 8th 2011 by Penguin Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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These 400 pages are like a single chord with six notes, horror, terror, death, pain, ruin and obedience. You will have observed the absence of pity and mercy. I wonder whether we – I – read this account of the last year of the Third Reich in the spirit of revenge, in some distant vicarious sense, because this is where the Nazis finally got what was coming to them. So it could be the one to read straight after Hitler's Willing Executioners or a viewing of Claude Lanzmann's documentary Shoah. And...more
phew. this has been e legitimate "tour de force" in order to finish it, but i'm actually convinced that reading it in a very frenetic way helped with the atmosphere that this book was supposed to touch on.

"The End" is the collection of all informations regarding Germany's situation between the 20th of July 1944 (the day of the biggest attack on Hitler, the bomb placed in his wolf nest at the feet of the conference table that managed only to scratch him a bit and affect his prestige, more than a...more
Jun 20, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: chocolatiers
Shelves: european-history

Kershaw's question - why did Germany continue to fight to the absolute bitter end, at which point most of it was in ruins and occupied by Allies - is much less mysterious to me than the question of why the German people, from the thirties on, allowed this monster to have complete control over them. But that's obviously a different book. In this story, they fight because Hitler commanded them to. He did not want a repeat of 1918. The soldiers on the eastern front fought longer than those on the w...more
In The End, Kershaw attempts to explain why the German people fought on to the brutal end of WWII. He starts off by discussing the pervasiveness and effectiveness of terror in the last days of the war, but rejects that as being insufficient. He then reviews more recent research, which has demonstrated the willingness of the German people to go down with the regime. Kershaw also finds this to be insufficient. Kershaw also examines the Allied demand for unconditional surrender, and determines that...more
Tim Pendry

This is what good history should be about - an evidence-based narrative exploration offering the best working explanation of a particular problem of possible concern to us today.

Ian Kershaw asks a simple question of why Germany continued to fight on, far beyond reason, against the overwhelming force of Russian manpower and of Anglo-American air and technical superiority.

The book takes us from the failed Operation Valkyrie (the only serious revolt by conservative nationalists against national soc...more
Tony Taylor
Ian Kershaw has done a masterful job in analyzing and detailing the events of the last days of WWII in Europe... that last year from the bomb plot against Hitler in July of 1944 until the surrender of the Third Reich in May of 1945. This book is designed to help satisfy those questions that historians and readers of history may have pondered... what was happening at the highest levels within the Nazi Party, within the leadership of the military, and in the minds of the people of Germany who wher...more
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Jill Hutchinson
The author looks at the question that we often don't ask.....what made Germany fight on in the last year of WWII, when their country was in total ruin, the social and economic system no longer existed, the military had to depend on old men and children, and the Red Army was at the gates of Berlin? He relates tales of unbelievable events that occurred when the horror that the Nazis wrought came home to the Reich.........the continuing wholesale murder of political/racial "enemies of the State" an...more
Alan Draycott
A great disappointment. Two interesting questions made me buy the book- Why did the Germans carry on fighting when all was lost? Why did civillian life continue until the end? But Kershaw seemed to have found the answers almost immediatly and so told the story of the final year of the war instead- which he said he wouldn't. In itself that is a fine read but most will have already read it. So why did the Germans fight on?- simply Germans were afraid of the Bolsheviks either because they were in t...more
I love Ian Kershaw's writing because he takes what could be a very boring subject (military battles) and makes it readable for the layman. Most of you that know me, know that I lost a grandfather at the end of World War II (six weeks before it ended) and that our family doesn't exactly know what happened to him, although we have an idea that he may be buried in what is now Russia. He was in the German army, which is a sensitive subject for many, including myself. After reading this book, I have...more
He says in the preface that he's going to repeat himself often in this book, and he keeps his word! It's almost as though he doesn't expect us to read the whole thing and so uses this repetition to make certain that anyone choosing to read just a few of the chapters will still get a good grasp of his ideas as to why and how Germany was willing and able to maintain it's trajectory to total destruction right up to the end. But for this fault, I would have given it four stars. Read, by all means, b...more
Robert Dooner
Reading Ian Kershaw’s “The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany 1944-1945,” is a brutal experience. It is a story of human slaughter engaged on a scale that is beyond comprehension. Kershaw examines the final year of the Second World War and its disastrous impact on Germany. By the summer of 1944, victory for Germany on the Eastern and Western Fronts against the Allies was militarily impossible. Many high ranking German generals clearly saw the reality of Germany’s situation, bu...more
In his book "The End", Ian Kershaw answers a question he asked himself. The question was why Nazi Germany continued to fight after June 1944, even though it was obvious to all that Germany was going to lose the war.

The question of why continue to fight has not, to my knowledge, been deeply explored. And it is a question that has application well beyond the narrow confines of 1944-1945. To me, this is the kind of question is an extra-ordinary and fascinating one. And, I believe, shows Mr Kershaw...more
Robert Kiehn
Ian Kershaw has written a marvelous, interesting and fact filled account
of the last and final days of Hitler's regime on Nazi Germany during the
years of 1944-45.

Ian goes into detail about how Hitler and his henchmen - Namely
Speer, Donitz, Bormann, Himmler and other top ranking Nazi's
prolonged the war in Germany, costing millions of lives in
not only the military population (Soldiers, Volksturm, Wehrmacht,
SS, etc) of Germany but also on the Allied side, Soviet Side and
Civilian population as well.

Bas Kreuger
Not the best history book I've ever read. This book could have been written in half, no a quarter of the pages used.
Kershaw repeats his lines every few pages: there was no surrender because Hitler held all involved personally in his thrall and there was no alternative to fighting to the bitter end because the Germans were not used to think for themselves and the machinery of repression was too strong to risk anything that smacked of treason.
It is rinse and repeat every chapter unfortunately. Ins...more
Chris Fenn
Ian Kershaw and Anthony Beevor are among my most favorite historians. This book demonstrates why Kershaw is a master. He takes a fascinating subject and poses crucial questions - then weaves a truly harrowing tale of destruction and defiance in the face of catastrophy.

Relatively few books have delved into the last months of the war, especially from the German perspective. The true value of this work, is to plunge the reader into the reality for those living in Germany during these crucial month...more
This is a difficult subject to write about not least because the last few months of World War 2 were chaotic in the extreme. Mr Kershaw has done an admirable job.

It is also a difficult subject due to the appalling levels of violence and cruelty that was meted out by all combatants (with the Eastern Front taking the top prize in depravity). Again, Kershaw goes into detail to explain what happened and why.

And finally, it is a difficult subject because, for me at least, I came away with a substanti...more
Edgar Raines
Germany, both the armed forces and the people, was in bad shape in July 1944. The Allied breakout from Normandy and the Red Army's evisceration of Army Group Center made the military situation bleak indeed while the Anglo-American strategic bomber offensive was reducing the cities of the Reich to rubble and its transportation systems to a shambles. In each succeeding month conditions grew progressively worse. In The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945, Ian Kershaw as...more
Jun 11, 2012 Adrian added it
Kershaw's aim is to discover what structures of power and ways of thinking led to Nazi Germany's decision to fight WWII down to the very end resulting in the destruction of their country. He covers only the period from the assassination attempt on Hitler's life in July '44 until the end of the war. Much of this territory is well trodden by historians and I'm suspicious that Kershaw is trying to plumb one more book from it. Still, he does reveal that the cult of personality which Hitler wielded o...more
H Wesselius
The real mystery for most is not the defeat of Germany but why it kept fighting and its that question Kreshaw seeks to answer. The starting point or crucial starting cause is asserted to be the attempted July 44 assassination. In reaction, total war was finally unleashed and domestic totalitarianism begins to match that of the occupied territories. Giving credit to Hitler, his inner circle (Speer, Goebbels, Himmler, and Borman), unconditional surrender terms, terror, and the fear of the Red Army...more
With a topic like that, this book could never be seen as some easy read for leisure and after finishing it, I'd also say it's not a read for the masses. Kershaw describes in an incredibly (some might say much too) detailed way the last 9 months of Nazi Germany and thus tries to explain, how Germany continued to fight on for such a long time, even though defeat was screamingly obvious. At times, the tale really goes into minutiae, where you ask: why do I need to know THAT much detail?

That makes t...more
Rob Kitchin
Most books about the Second World War document how events unfolded or the experiences of living through them. Ian Kershaw’s ambition in The End is a little more challenging: he tries to explain why the events happened in the way that they did. In particular, he examines why Germany fought ferociously until the nearly the entire country was occupied, Berlin was over-run, and Hitler was dead; why they did not surrender beforehand, saving the lives of millions of people given that it was clear that...more
De schrijver probeert in dit boek uit te leggen waarom de Duitsers aan het eind van de 2de wereldoorlog nog zo lang zijn doorgegaan, ondanks dat ieder normaal denkend mens kon zien, dat er niets meer te winnen viel. Hij slaagt daar m.i. goed in. Hij weet toch weer veel zaken naar voren te brengen, die relatief onbekend waren en laat goed zien waarop al dat fanatisme was gebaseeerd. In het huidige Duitsland kan je dit beeld van Duitsland in 1944 - 1945 totaal niet meer herkennen.
Jared Miller
This book is well written in such a way as to keep a readers interest. And is an interesting approach to the end of the war. However I found it to be lacking in cohesion. This book has a lot of well researched information however it could have been condensed into half the number of pages.

Some interesting points where

Pg 14 In speaking as to why the leadership held out "They were sustained in the main not blind Faith in hitler. More important for arch nazis was the feeling that they had the futu...more
In Sfarsitul, Ian Kersaw zugraveste anii sumbri 1944_1945 ai Germaniei naziste. Intra in psihologia natiunii,mai ieri idolatra,supusa si exultata de a lor Fuhrer(conducator), iar la finele razboiului, invadata de Aliati la vest, si comtropita la est de bestilii bolsevici, nu le ramane decat disperarea, fuga din calea maniei si razbunarii celor care le intorcea dintele pentru dinte. Chiar in mizeria si situatia fara salvare in care se gaseau, nemtii condusi orbeste de Hitler, omora in continuare...more
Kershaw has written an excellent treatment of the last ten months of World War II, starting with the premise that the Germans had lost by the time of the Stauffenberg assassination attempt (July, '44) but that the protracted agony of her defeat was needlessly prolonged by the Nazis until Hitler's suicide. His death rendered the struggle irrelevant, and Germany surrendered. The End.

It does read a bit like that. But Kershaw does prove his main theses as to why the German leadership terrorized the...more
Emmanuel Gustin
This book suffers from a confusing organization: The order of the chapters suggests a chronological narrative, but within those Kershaw repeatedly cycles back to look at events from a different perspective, which doesn't add much value as he reaches the same conclusions every time.
In the end, Kershaw's answer to his central question, why Germany fought to the very end, feels vaguely unsatisfactory. He explains how the system of the Nazi state worked to deny the people that it had trapped not ju...more
Artur Coelho
Por entre os momentos terríveis da II Guerra Mundial, o seu apocalíptico final destaca-se pelo volume inaudito de destruição à escala continental Particularmente na Europa, onde a Alemanha e outros territórios ficaram reduzidos a escombros, numa destruição total nunca vista em guerras anteriores. Pressionado entre as forças aliadas ocidentais em França e pelas hordes soviéticas a leste, em 1944 o regime nazi já se havia apercebido que perdera a guerra. Porquê, então, o arrastar, as mortes desnec...more
Jason Dikes
Not for the fainthearted or for those interested in only the military history of the end of the Third Reich. This book poses the question as to why, once it was apparent that Germany was going to lose, did the generals not overthrow Hitler and end the war sooner? To answer this, Kershaw examines the political situation at the end of Nazi Germany and finds little will to do so. The main supporters of Hitler--Speer, Goebbels, Boorman, and Himler--had nothing to look forward to after the war and ne...more
The last ten months of world war 2 saw a defiant Germany that fought to the bitter end at an immense cost. The butcher bill for the Germans was 400, 000 civilians, half of the civilian casualties of the entire war. Most of those killed were in the ruthless bombing campaign that systematically destroyed virtually all of the larger cities of the country. The same holds true for the military which lost half of all deaths in the last ten months, a staggering 2.7 million. This resistance is seen as t...more
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Ian Kershaw "The End" 1 22 Oct 30, 2011 02:50PM  
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Professor Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian, noted for his biographies of Adolf Hitler.
Ian Kershaw studied at Liverpool (BA) and Oxford (D. Phil). He was a lecturer first in medieval, then in modern, history at the University of Manchester. In 1983-4 he was Visiting Professor of Modern History at the Ruhr University in Bochum, West Germany. From 1987 to 1989 he was Professor of Modern Histor...more
More about Ian Kershaw...
Hitler, Vol 2: 1936-1945 Nemesis Hitler, Vol 1: 1889-1936 Hubris Hitler Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 The Hitler Myth: Image and Reality in the Third Reich

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