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Swansong 1945 A Collective Diary from Hitler's Last Birthday to VE Day by Walter Kempowski
  

Swansong 1945 A Collective Diary from Hitler's Last Birthday to VE Day

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Sue Baker's view...

Translated from the German, a history dedicated to just four days in 1945, Friday 20th April Wednesday 25th April, Monday 30th and Tuesday the 8th May which cover the period from the death of Hitler to the end of WWII. Walter Kempowski committed 20 years of his life to collecting the material in Swansong 1945, diaries and reports written on each day range across the world and all levels of society from Diplomats and Parliamentarians to soldiers and housewives and we see the events from every side. There are those who have lost everything, those who have to reconstruct a life for themselves, those who itch to leave the army and those who look on in horror at what will come. By concentrating on just 4 days Walter Kempowski provides a level of detail and multitude of voices unequalled elsewhere.

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Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This remarkable book charts life in the final few weeks of the Second World War, as Hitler’s Reich falls and shatters into a thousand pieces. The ingenious method of stitching together fragments of diaries and letters to convey what those dark and dreadful days in April and early May 1945 were really like lends the text an immediacy and a power that will make a great impression, even on people familiar with the history of that conflict. There are extracts from world leaders, but the strength of the book comes from the accounts of the ordinary people caught up in the death throes of a Europe that had come crashing down. The female Russian sergeant who smuggles food to a starving German family; German soldiers fighting or fleeing; concentration camp survivors wandering and wondering in the ruins; the victors and defeated united in despair. A modern epic.
~ Jonathan North

Synopsis

Swansong 1945 A Collective Diary from Hitler's Last Birthday to VE Day by Walter Kempowski

Swansong 1945 brings together hundreds of letters, diary extracts and autobiographical accounts to chronicle four days in 1945: 20th April, Hitler's last birthday, 25th April, when American and Soviet troops first met at the Elbe, 30th April, the day Hitler committed suicide, and 8th May, the day of the German surrender. Side by side in these pages, we encounter civilians fleeing on foot to the west, British and American POWs dreaming of home, concentration camp survivors, loyal soldiers from both sides of the conflict as well as national leaders including Churchill. These first-hand accounts, which Walter Kempowski painstakingly collected, organised and shaped for publication over twenty years, provide the raw material of history unmediated by a historian's narrative. The voices of individuals speak for themselves, and through their many experiences, perspectives and situations, the condition of Europe during the zero hour of war is viscerally recreated. A modern classic, this vital work brings to life a time whose repercussions are still felt today.

About the Author

WALTER KEMPOWSKI (1929-2007) was one of Germany's most important post-war writers. His first success as an author was with his acclaimed series of novels German Chronicles. In the 1980s he began work on Echo Soundings [Das Echolot], gathering together first hand accounts, diaries, letters and memoirs of the second world war, which he collated and curated into ten volumes published over 20 years, and which is considered a modern classic. Swansong 1945, published in Germany in 2005, is the final volume of that work.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999

Author

Walter Kempowski

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Publisher

Format

Hardback

Categories

History
Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites


ISBN

9781847086402

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