In the last months of the war, Hitler ordered the poisoning, blocking, and wrecking of all ports across Europe; the destruction of all industries, railroads, bridges, utilities supplies, archives and museums in Europe; and the destruction of the most beautiful city in the world: Paris. Thanks to the determination and bravery of a few, including those who paid with their lives, Hitler's orders were often disobeyed. The result was a profound and lasting effect on the war and its aftermath. In this fascinating and gripping book, Randall Hansen explores the extraordinary phenomenon of disobedience and its consequences: Would Rommel have opened the Western Front to the Allies on July 20, 1944 had he not been shot up a few days earlier? Did Albert Speer single-handedly prevent the destruction of bridges, factories, towns,and all features of civilized life? Did the actions of one Prussian General save Paris from total devastation? And why were some German cities defended to the last man, leading to a great loss of life and the cities' complete destruction, while others surrendered without a fight?
There are many accounts of heroic resistance to German occupation across Europe, from the Free French, through Tito’s partisans in the Balkans, to the Warsaw Uprising. In contrast, there was little opposition to Hitler within Germany. One reason was the utter ruthlessness with which the Nazi regime dealt with his enemies, enforcing its policy of Sippenhaft, whereby family members of a convicted traitor were arrested, the wives taken to concentration camps and the children sent to orphanages. This meticulously researched book looks at why this changed in the final year of the war, particularly after September 1944, when Hitler decreed that the German people should destroy their own country, from every grain of food to every functioning factory, rather than let it fall into the hands of the enemy. The author looks at the part played by ordinary people as well as those who had influence, the role played by Rommel, the importance of Albert Speer, and whether General von Choltitz, as Governor of Paris really defied Hitler’s orders to reduce the French capital to rubble.
Publication date: 21/08/2014
Publisher: Faber & Faber Non-Fiction an imprint of Faber & Faber
|Publication date:||21st August 2014|
|Publisher:||Faber & Faber Non-Fiction an imprint of Faber & Faber|
|Categories:||Second World War, Battles & campaigns, European history, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000,|
Randall Hansen is Director of the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies and a Chair in Politics at the University of Toronto. His last book, The Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-5 was published in 2008 to great acclaim and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Literary Award. He divides his time between Toronto and Berlin.More About Randall Hansen