Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Berlin: The Downfall 1945” as Want to Read:
Berlin: The Downfall 1945
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Berlin: The Downfall 1945

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  11,697 ratings  ·  444 reviews
The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Reich in January 1945. Political instructors rammed home the message of Wehrmacht and SS brutality. The result was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known, with tanks crushing refugee columns under their tracks, mass rape, pillage and destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women an ...more
Kindle Edition, 528 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Penguin (first published 2002)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Berlin, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Sami No, it is not a novel. I'd place it on the better end of the non-fiction spectrum, Beevor lists his sources rather well.

But it can be read…more
No, it is not a novel. I'd place it on the better end of the non-fiction spectrum, Beevor lists his sources rather well.

But it can be read like a novel, just like Jonathan presumed.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,697 ratings  ·  444 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Berlin: The Downfall 1945
Soviet soldiers hoist the red flag over the Reichstag in May 1945

The grramazon description is a naff affair, I shall find proper information on a better site:

Berlin: The Downfall 1945 (aka The Fall of Berlin 1945 in the US) isite:
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, world-war-2
I do have issues with some of the text not being footnoted in a manner I find useful but there is a fine bibliography and a section of interviews, diary and unpublished accounts.
In the end though an interesting read on the appalling fall of Berlin that showed that the enemies each had no idea as to the humanity of each other. Propaganda by the opposing sides was always fierce and in the end with the Eastern Front being probably the most brutal event in history this book bought to the fore the n
List of Illustrations

--Berlin: The Downfall: 1945

Source Notes
Select Bibliography
What could I possibly say that I hadn't already alluded to within my previous updates. I read "Stalingrad" in the snow outside on purpose in January of 2009, I read Beevor's "D-Day" in April of 2010 and believe that Stephen Ambrose still holds my attention best on that topic, "Paris After the Liberation" I read in November of 2011 and here on 14 January, 2013 I completed "The Fall of Berlin 1945". I believe that "Stalingrad" was brilliant, but this work on "The Fall of Berlin 1945" was even more ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii-europe
Beevor's account of the final collapse of Nazi Germany is not great historical writing. The narrative reads as a catalogue of events without the binding literary thread necessary to weave a compelling historical tale. There is little development of the historical figures -- their stories are not fleshed out. You end the book knowing not much more about Zhukov, Guderian, Chiukov or Weidling than when you started. The Fall of Berlin 1945 is weak alongside John Toland's The Last 100 Days despite greater ac ...more
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I am going to have to make some space for this one on my favorite’s shelf. This is my second Antony Beevor book and I have to say I’m a Beelevor!!!! This was every bit as entertaining as the Beev’s Stalingrad. One more book like this and I will be ready to proclaim Antoney Beevor the Hornfischer of the land war in Europe!!! More appropriately, Beevor is to WWII history what Justin Bieber is to pop music. In fact, I’m sure if Antoney Beevor came to my town for a book signing, he would be mobbed b ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, history, nonfiction
I think my politics are already pretty transparent so let's dive in with what occupies my mind at the moment. It is frustrating that you cannot compare Trump to Hitler without being dismissed as making an argument that isn't the one you're making. It isn't the simple transitive, Hitler bad, Trump bad, therefore Trump like Hitler. Instead, it's the whole barrel of specific rotten qualities: the thin-skinned self-aggrandizement, the insistence on expertise in impressive-sounding subjects about whi ...more
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I was writing my novel, Skeletons at the Feast, I read a great many histories about the end of the Second World War in Europe -- and the final collapse of Nazi Germany. I'm currently involved with a possible TV series adaptation of that novel, and so I have been returning to that literature. Anthony Beevor's The Fall of Berlin is one that I missed in 2007. It's brilliantly researched and captures the horror of the winter and spring of 1945 on the Eastern Front: the relentless sacrifice of R ...more
Jill Hutchinson
A truly amazing book that looks at the last few months of the Third Reich and the horrors visited on the population of Berlin by the Red Army. That Army was frenzied by their experiences at the hands of the Nazis when Germany invaded Russia and they wreaked unimaginable suffering in their revenge....tanks crushing civilians, mass rape, pillage and total destruction. The author does a masterful job of reconstructing the experiences of those millions caught up in the Third Reich's final collapse. ...more
Czarny Pies
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone. We all need to study WWII
Recommended to Czarny by: Norman Davies
Shelves: european-history
Antony Beevor is one of the greatest historians of the second half of the twentieth century. The Nobel Literature Committee has not a awarded the prize to an historian since 1953. The time to award another is long overdue; Beevor would be a very logical choice.

Beevor trained at Sandhurst and served for five years in the British army. Despite being admirably trained to write the type of technical history that military academies use to train their students in battle field tactics
Michael Scott
In The Fall of Berlin 1945, Antony Beevor tries to depict, as graphically as possible, the atrocious actions of the Russian troops (and the clumsy non-action by their American and British allies) in the eventful taking of Berlin, the symbolic civic center of Nazi Germany.

Overall, I did not like this book: while it is informative and has some good pieces of analytical material, it has a subjective approach and a questionable goal, and uses historical fact only as buttress. (In The Fall of Berlin 1945, Antony Beevor tries to depict, as graphically as possible, the atrocious actions of the Russian troops (and the clumsy non-action by their American and British allies) in the eventful taking of Berlin, the symbolic civic center of Nazi Germany.

Overall, I did not like this book: while it is informative and has some good pieces of analytical material, it has a subjective approach and a questionable goal, and uses historical fact only as buttress. (Ann Tusa and John Tusa discuss in more detail the legality of these actions in The Nuremberg Trials). The cinematics also don't work in this prose.

On the positive side, the book is carefully researched, albeit Beevor never references the facts mentioned here and there is a strong negative tone towards the Russians. The material on the background of the (short) siege of Berlin is well-written and informative; among others, it introduces the reader to the material support from the Allies (including the opinion that the Russians would have scarcely been able to attack Berlin, had it not have been for the American Land-Lease trucks, materials, ammunition, etc.). The assault on Berlin is prefaced by descriptions of the precedent battles, which have stranded much of the defense (including some key units, due to the directions of Speer) out of reach of Berlin. The actual battle is described in short slices, sometimes difficult to follow but overall well-made (given the medium). The part on the deaths or attempted escapes of the top Nazi officials is very good, drawing from rich material that has surfaced as late as the mid-1990s (e.g., the death of Bormann). Similarly, the part on the fate of the victorious Russian generals is interesting.

Everywhere there are gory details--nasty but needed for trying to understand this war experience--: we learn about the entering of Russians on the German territory; about the youthful (and heart-breaking) German fighters in the streets of Berlin; about the Panzerjagers (Panzer hunters) on bikes; about queuing (and being killed while in line) for the water pump; about the general destruction; about the rape of Berlin; about the re-education (and other pieces of the horrible fate) of the Russian prisoners of war; about the loss of any illusion of having human rights, under the iron fist of the Russians; etc. This part, however, is heavily based on the war-time and on the later reporting of Vassily Grossman (A Writer at War is on my to-read list), imo without enough or proper citation.

This book abounds in good low-detail analysis, which seems to be Beevor's main strength. There's good material on (mostly Russian) life on the front; on the reason for which Berliners could not just give up (Hitler Youth and SS, and the Russians themselves, shot even at people under the white flag); on re-establishing life basics in a destroyed city; etc. There is an interesting story about German Selbstopfereinsatz ("self-sacrificial mission") -- a precursor of the Japanese kamikaze ("divine wind").

There is some fine analysis about seemingly minute events, but with conceivably much broader implications: the internecine fights among the Russian generals, managed to profit by Stalin but ultimately overwritten by NKVD (Russian version of Gestapo); the political impact of the public announcement, by Roosevelt, of the decision to withdraw US troops from Europe, within 2 years from the end of the war (what a boon for the aggressive Russian behavior, and what multi-decade terror this will bring!); the first Jewish service after reconquering Berlin ("in the synagogue of the Jewish hostpital [...] on Friday 11 May"); the actual date when the war ended (hint: the Russians wanted it to coincide with May 1, then, not succeeding with this, to delay the news for nefarious purposes).

The main issue I have with this book is the coarseness of the theories. This is one of those books that oscillates between historical accuracy and plain fiction, going through temporary stages of subjective analysis. The author misses no chance to call on Russians for committing atrocities; however, perhaps they should be put in international context (although quid pro quo is no excuse, as decided later, during The Nuremberg Trials). Beevor seems mistaken in his analysis of the extraction of German research facilities, including the nuclear research laboratory -- Beevor strongly states that the Russians have had a poor yield out of these extractions (from nail to researcher); instead, it seems to me that Russia got at least a buff to their own research and managed to strip important knowledge from the heart of Europe, not mentioning the control of the important uranium fields of Czechoslovakia.

Another issue is the presence of fantastic stories, not supported with documentary evidence and thus plain unbelievable (even if, possibly or even likely, true): about the NKVD bugging all the rooms at Yalta (where Sir Winston Churchill claimed to have felt truly safe, sic!); about Nazi generals, in charge of defending Berlin, who were learning about Russian advances by calling random phone numbers in different areas (if a Russian voice answered, or there was repeatedly no answer, then the Russians must have conquered that part of the city already); the reverse calls, which the Red Army used as pranks or as a method to intimidate the population; the story about the honor of riding a white horse as the battle victor, which seemingly Stalin left to Zhukov (later to be ostracized) only because he himself has fallen from said horse, a day before; etc.

Yet another issue is the storification of cinematic events, which is not done justice in this prose -- the medium is perhaps not suitable for this type of presentation, as envisioned by Beevor for this book. The prose stumbles into numbers and facts, which are needed for perspective but greatly detract from fluency and atmosphere; the actual battle is fragmented instead of continuous, with effectively breaks any perspective and thus seems to depict an uncoordinated battle in the rubble; etc.

To conclude: a good book, but the mix of history and historical fiction, and the use of cinematics in prose, make this less interesting for this reviewer.
Tim Mercer
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book Beevor covers in detail the final offensives into Eastern Germany. He does a masterly job of describing the events from the leadership level down to the individuals experience in the final 6 months of the war. For the size of the book Beevor covers an incredible range of topics. He explores not just the military aspects of this period but also the social impacts and changes wrought by the war. He additionally frames the Eastern Front by covering at a high level the progress of the w ...more
Mar 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During World War II, some of the most savage fighting took place between the Germans and the Russians on the Eastern Front. Not only was it a war of ideology between National Socialism and Communism, it was often a war of annihilation as well. This book is a fascinating read about the last days of the Third Reich, with lots of focus on the German and Soviet high commands, as well as the trials and tribulations of the German civilians caught up in the maelstrom of war. If you're looking for a boo ...more
Charles Mccain
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Red Army's invasion of Berlin in January 1945 was one of the most terrifying examples of fire and sword in history. Frenzied by terrible memories of Wehrmacht and SS brutality, the Russians wreaked havoc, leaving hundreds of thousands of civilians dead and millions more fleeing westward. Drawing upon newly available material from former Soviet files, as well as from German, American, British, French, and Swedish archives, bestselling author Antony Beevor vividly recounts the experiences of t ...more
Kate Forsyth
The story of the Fall of Berlin is one of terror and betrayal, destruction and bloodshed, rape and revenge, and is not one for the faint-hearted. Antony Beevor has examined every aspect of the events leading up to the cataclysmic destruction of Berlin in April 1945. The book is incredibly well-researched, and beautifully written, but is best for those who have already extensively studied the history of Germany in the Second World War, or those with a particular acute interest in warfare and batt ...more
Jun 11, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: War Fiends
Shelves: history, non-fiction
It sits at the top of the human drama, and every so often I have to go back and read about World War II. This book looked like a good chance to revisit old territory.

I was attracted by the book's promise of new accounts and insights to this battle. It turned out that a lot of what people have remarked (tanks and refugee columns, etc.) was stuff already known about: no new perfidious behaviour or atrocities to speak of.

Still, it's not bad. Who, indeed, could write a boring
Gary Haynes
Jul 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A seminal treatise on the end of Nazi tyranny, coupled with a scathing commentary on Stalinist cruelty. What comes across in this wonderful nonfiction work, which reads like a thriller novel, is Beevor's extraordinary grasp of his subject matter, his meticulous research, and refusal to stoop to generalities. The population of Berlin suffered for their sins, especially the woman, and Beevor does not pull any punches. This is a testament to the fact that we are one step away from brutality - one s ...more
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
In two words: utterly compelling. Antony Beevor's widely praised account of the ultimate battle for the heart of the Nazi Reich, and the pure horror of it all, is a book worthy of high praise indeed. The scene is ably set in the opening chapters with the setting of the various battle orders, the intricacies of the political machinations in fearsome effect, and the descriptions of lives interrupted on the home fronts; Beevor expertly brings the reader with him into the new year of 1945 as the fin ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had tears in my eyes as I began compiling this review, shortly before finishing the book. The suffering which it relentlessly and rather coolly lays out seems on the one hand as if it ought to be unimaginable. On the other hand, it sounds no different to accounts of the 30 Years War, except with the addition of industrial-scale killing machinery. Germany has seen this before, and at least in the mid-20th Century had still not learned from the experience.

Beevor follows up "Stalingra
Emilio Mendez
Oct 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Say what you will about Hitler and the Nazis, but you cant help but feel for the ordinary German people in this poignant end to Germany in WWII. They really did fight to the the bitter end, outnumbered, outgunned with no chance of victory. What would you do in this position? Antony Beevor's ability to reconstruct the helplessness of the situation, from the upper echelons of the leadership to women and children fleeing,gives a stark contrast. The most heroic acts of this battle and yet one of the ...more
This is an advanced military history. It discusses the military campaign of the Soviet and Allies drive on Berlin. It also discusses to a large extent the political and social collateral damage of the conquest of Nazi Germany. It is mainstream in its approach, not offering any radical perspective on the Russo-German war in 1944-45. Differently from other histories of the period I’ve read, it contains use of a large number of Soviet sources versus exclusively German. This Soviet POV makes it part ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read people on GR criticizing Beevor as a historian saying that he doesn't develop his characters, among other things. Horse shit. I love him as a historian because he's much better at writing than most historians. I don't give a crap if you detail everything the way some people expect, if you can't keep a reader's interest I have no use for you. Beevor writes with the skill of the best authors of thrillers. Unputdownable is an invented word seldom used to describe history books, but it's a ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia-obsession
For the last few of weeks, every time my husband sits down to another b&w WW2 Hollywood movie (he's just discovered 'a channel') I think, But It Wasn't Like That. It wasn't like that at all.

Almost 30 years ago I met a man who had been with the British troops that first entered Belsen. It was seared on his mind.

What we should remember is that ALL WAR does this to people. There probably has never been a war where rape wasn't used as a weapon of terror, when prisoners and civilians
Neil Fox
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After a fascinating guided walking tour entitled "the last days of the Third Reich" during a recent weekend in Berlin, I felt compelled to re-read Anthony Beevor's "Berlin, the Downfall 1945" which, together with his other masterpiece Stalingrad, are among the finest military histories from World War 2. Taken together and complemented by a viewing of the Bruno Ganz movie " Downfall", these 2 books will provide the student of WW2 history with a great perspective on the unravelling of the Third Re ...more
Antony Beevor's " The Fall of Berlin 1945" is an excellent account of the final battles of the Eastern Front, specifically focusing on the Soviet push into Germany in early 1945 and the subsequent battle of Berlin that April.
This work does not just focus on the operational and Geo-political aspects of the Third Reich's downfall, it also shines light on the human drama that unfolded in the midst of the horror. Woven into the book are various personal accounts of the brutal fighting between
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a challenge because of how long it was and how much information was in it. I have to say, that the author did a great job by collecting all the facts and putting them into this book. Lots of chapters exposes the information that no one knew before and also that most people are losing their minds and their humanism during the war. Very informative and yet very hard to read at the times book which should be read by every history enthusiast and those who are into WWII history and find ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Fall of Berlin 1945" which could have also been called, "How the Soviets Tricked, Raped, and Strong-Armed their Way into Central Europe," kind of rocked me. I can certainly see why the Soviet Union's inheritor state, Russia, was displeased when it was published. It does not paint a pretty picture of the Soviet Union.

However, it never once came across to me as an agenda-driven book where Beevor is trying his best to revise history to paint the Soviets as monsters. In fact, very o
RJ Corby
Feb 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is an excellent and enlightening look about what happened on the Eastern Front of World War II. This book also destroys some myths about the end of the war. Being an American, I'm often exposed to the Western slant about what happened in the war, so this read was quite refreshing. I have a natural inclination to question whatever I read - I don't just automatically believe anything. But, from what I have read, and I've done a fair amount of reading on the European theater of the war, this b
Tadas Talaikis
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history

Several additional details, but the book looked disorganized, somewhat subjective and lacks insight, unlike The Third Reich At War by Richard J. Evans.

It is the story about basically three things: 1) how "thousand year empire" (e.g. last Roman empire) with its psychotic beliefs was raped by Russians (e.g. "untermensch", like "white niggers") which would be remembered for another "thousand years", 2) how medieval "I'm not guilty, I just work here" turned into "we were lied to and betrayed, we are victims",
Erik Graff
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII fans, Germans, Russians
Recommended to Erik by: Thomas Miley
Shelves: history
This is an excellent history of the last months of Nazi Germany with a focus on Berlin and the Soviet advance. While much of it concerns day-by-day dispositions of military units, accompanied by maps, enough consists of personal accounts to allow those of us who are not military historians to enjoy this substantial book.

A major--and controversial--theme, recurring repeatedly, is that of the rape of women. According to Beevor this was wholesale, despite rules of engagement forbidding
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Page count correction and format 3 15 May 09, 2018 10:23AM  
The Fall of Berlin 1945 13 113 Sep 11, 2017 02:37AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945
  • D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches
  • The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany 1944-45
  • The Last Battle: The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany
  • The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #2)
  • Hitler's Empire: How the Nazis Ruled Europe
  • A Writer at War: Vasily Grossman with the Red Army
  • Inside the Third Reich
  • The Third Reich in Power (The History of the Third Reich, #2)
  • Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy
  • Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris (Hitler, #1)
  • Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
  • Russia's War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945
  • Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944
  • Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis (Hitler, #2)
  • The Second World War
  • A Bridge Too Far
See similar books…
Antony James Beevor is a British historian who was educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous historian of World War II, John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission. He has published several popular histories on the Second World War and the 20th century in general.
“Hitler had learned nothing and had forgotten nothing.” 1 likes
“Sé practico: regala un ataúd” 0 likes
More quotes…