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The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,107 Ratings  ·  183 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 the Second World War, yet remarkably little attention has been paid to the equally vital questions of how and why the Third Reich did not surrender
ebook, 592 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Penguin Books (first published 2011)
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Daniel Rozmiarek I just finished reading The End, but I have not read his biography of Hitler. However, I've read countless other books on WWII.
I can't say that this…more
I just finished reading The End, but I have not read his biography of Hitler. However, I've read countless other books on WWII.
I can't say that this book is worth the investment of time, but Kershaw does a good job of helping me understand the ideas and attitudes of many Germans who were there at the time. The political and military reasons and explanations are not new in this book, but I now have a better understanding of the personal reasons. I match it with "Iron Curtain," by Anne Applebaum, for giving me valuable personal context for historical events that seem so extreme when looking at them in hindsight from a 21st century western view.(less)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 21, 2011 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worldwar2
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
Dec 31, 2015 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww-ii

A man cuts some telephone lines he thinks connect the military bases one to another. He's seen by two members of the Hitler Jugend who report his actions. He's summarily arrested by the local police. The regional commander is summoned and a summary trial is conducted and the man executed. This scenario occurs just four hours from the town being overrun by the Allies in Germany. The question Kershaw asks and answers is why did local bureaucracies and systems continue to function so well as apocal
Kevin Cole
When I was 16, I spent the summer with my father and his family in what was then called West Germany. He was in the U.S. Army, which had been stationed in Europe for over forty years in order to dissuade Soviet incursion into Western Europe. (The Army's still there, in fact, even if the Soviets are not.) There wasn't enough housing on base to live in, so my father ended up renting the top floor of a house from a German family. There was a woman, her son, and her father. I remember the father as ...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
Jun 20, 2014 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 24, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 27, 2011 Brigitte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
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
Shawn  Stone
In a war already long lost, why did average German dedicate themselves to fight on in a futile war amounting to little more than protracted suicide?

Germany’s slow lurch towards the abyss is detailed in what one reviewer quoted as a “catalogue of German torment” and the statistics belie any comprehension of what any person today could
possibly fathom – Fifty per cent of the German soldiers who died in the war were killed in the last 10 months of early 1945 at a rate of 350,000 per month.

Tony Taylor
Oct 27, 2011 Tony Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2011 Shawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
I find Kershaw's other books to be among the very best I've ever read. This one, however, is not as good.

The book purports to show the how and why Germans continued fighting till the end. Although researched pretty extensively (as evidenced by the notes/references section which takes up a full third of the book) there are two major drawbacks:

One, it lacks focus. Instead of staying on the topic of the book, extensive sections of it deal with the progress of the war itself, detailing battles and b
Dec 22, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This may be a better book than I’m giving it credit for being, because it does offer a deeply detailed and fascinating look into the all-or-nothing attitude of the Nazi machinery in the last year of the war, an attitude held in place long after it had any logical reason for being. I’ll let the book explain why (there are numerous reasons), but I should note that the reason it isn’t getting a higher ranking is because it did feel as if many sentiments and ideas were repeated — even within smaller ...more
Robert Dooner
Jun 26, 2013 Robert Dooner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 02, 2011 Chuck rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Robert Kiehn
Apr 25, 2012 Robert Kiehn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books, favorites
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
Chris Fenn
Feb 11, 2013 Chris Fenn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 23, 2012 Barry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Edgar Raines
Jan 20, 2013 Edgar Raines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 30, 2011 H Wesselius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Herbert
Apr 11, 2013 John Herbert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wartime
I've never really been attracted to Non-Fiction but this book intrigued me somewhat.
Yes, it is slow going, but gradually you feel like you're experiencing those last moments yourself.

The scope of the fear and suffering, not only by the Jewish and foreign community, but ultimately by the common German people, especially with the impending visit of the Russians on the eastern front, is absolutely mind numbing.

The fact that Hitler chose to fight to the death despite the rumblings of invading tanks
Carol Storm
Mar 19, 2016 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perfect companion to the movie DOWNFALL with Bruno Ganz -- one of my all time favorites!
Peter Cohron
Nov 29, 2014 Peter Cohron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For armchair historians like myself, the down side to this hobby is that once you have covered the available material as well as the "definitive" histories of campaigns and battles, the newer books rarely offer anything of note. Worse, the recent publications are looking for some new angle and the writers are forced to go for odd facts to get a hook into the reader. But "THE HISTORY OF GRANT'S BREAD BAKER" and "LEFT HANDED GIS AT NORMANDY" are not what i am after.

But there is a new book on World
Aug 12, 2014 Semnebune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ian Kershaw este un cunoscut istoric britanic, specializat în istoria Germaniei, deși la începutul carierei sale de profesor universitar s-a ocupat cu pasiune despre istoria medievală, materie pe care a și predat-o în cadrul Universității Manchester. A învățat germana ca să aprofundeze istoria țărănimii germane din Evul Mediu. Astfel, în 1972, Ian Kershaw a obținut o bursă de studiu ca lector în Bavaria când a avut loc o întâmplare care l-a ”pregătit” într-un fel pentru cărțile pe care avea să l ...more
Apr 29, 2014 Susanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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
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Ian Kershaw "The End" 1 27 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
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“In Würzburg, Gauleiter Otto Hellmuth, generally seen as one of the more moderate Party bosses, was all set to go ahead with implementing the ‘Nero Order’. It would, indeed, be pointless though, he admitted, if there were no chance of a change in the situation at the last minute. He asked Speer when the decisive ‘miracle weapons’ were going to be deployed. Only when Speer told him bluntly: ‘They’re not coming’, did he agree not to destroy the Schweinfurt ballbearing factories.143” 0 likes
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