Swansong 1945: A Collective Diary of the Last Days of the Third Reich (Hardcover)

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Why pick up yet another volume that deals with Nazis and their defeat? This is not a narrative in the traditional sense: collected here are journal entries, letters, minutes, transcripts and press releases, presented in chronological order from Hitler’s birthday in 1945 to the fall of Berlin and the end of the war in Europe. In those few days, we are treated to a dazzling and bizarre array of viewpoints and attitudes, each a ground level window into the Third Reich in its last days. Everyone from Nazi draftees captured by Soviets to Hitler himself is given a voice, painting a vivid and cacophonous portrait of a collapsing empire. ~ Tim

— From Tim


Swansong 1945 chronicles the end of Nazi Germany and World War II in Europe through hundreds of letters, diaries, and autobiographical accounts covering four days that fateful spring: Hitler's birthday on April 20, American and Soviet troops meeting at the Elbe on April 25, Hitler's suicide on April 30, and finally the German surrender on May 8. Side by side, we encounter vivid, first-person accounts of civilians fleeing Berlin, ordinary German soldiers determined to fight to the bitter end, American POWs dreaming of home, concentration-camp survivors' first descriptions of their horrific experiences, as well as the intimate thoughts of figures such as Eisenhower, Churchill, Stalin, Joseph Goebbels, and Hitler himself.

These firsthand accounts, painstakingly collected and organized by renowned German author Walter Kempowski, provide the raw material of history and present a panoramic view of those tumultuous days. The more than 1,000 extracts include a British soldier writing to his parents to tell them there are no baths but plenty of eggs and chocolate, an American soldier describing "the tremendous burst of lilacs" as he approaches the Elbe, Mussolini wishing Hitler a happy birthday, Eva Braun bragging to a girlfriend about what a "crack shot" she's become, and much more.

An extraordinary account of suffering and survival, Swansong 1945 brings to life the end of Nazi Germany and the war in Europe.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393248159
ISBN-10: 0393248151
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 13th, 2015
Pages: 512
Language: English