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

by Walter Kempowski

Biography / Autobiography eBooks of the Month History

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

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.

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.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781847086402
Publication date: 06/11/2014
Publisher: Granta Books
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781847086402
Publication date: 6th November 2014
Author: Walter Kempowski
Publisher: Granta Books
Format: Hardback
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites, History,

About Walter Kempowski

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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