- 11,99 €
One of Britain's most acclaimed historians presents the experiences and ramifications of the last day of World War II in Europe
May 8, 1945, 23:30 hours: With war still raging in the Pacific, peace comes at last to Europe as the German High Command in Berlin signs the final instrument of surrender. After five years and eight months, the war in Europe is officially over.
This is the story of that single day and of the days leading up to it. Hour by hour, place by place, this masterly history recounts the final spasms of a continent in turmoil. Here are the stories of combat soldiers and ordinary civilians, collaborators and resistance fighters, statesmen and war criminals, all recounted in vivid, dramatic detail. But this is more than a moment-by-moment account, for Sir Martin Gilbert uses every event as a point of departure, linking each to its long-term consequences over the following half century. In our attempts to understand the world we inherited in 1945, there is no better starting point than The Day the War Ended.
The beginning of the end began that April, with the liberation of the concentration camps. The Allies, sickened by their discoveries at Buchenwald and Bergen-Belsen, turned vengeful. Gilbert (The First World War) relates that at Dachau, within one hour of its liberation, 500 SS troops were killed, 346 of them by one machine gun-toting American lieutenant. There was an orgy of surrender, with a million prisoners taken by the Allies in one month. The Soviets captured Berlin and went on a raping spree. Lack of trust among Allied leaders forced Gen. Montgomery to push north to secure Denmark and head off the Soviets. The Germans meekly gave up Norway but fought bitterly to the end in Czechoslovakia. With victory on May 8--coincidentally, President Truman's birthday--came the celebrations in London, Paris and New York City, but there was still work to be done. The U.S. Eighth Air Force stopped bombing Germany and started dropping food to the starving Dutch people. And the seeds of the Cold War were sown, when Stalin sentenced one million of his repatriated troops to the Gulag. Filled with personal reminiscences from people on all sides of the conflict, this comprehensive and compelling chronicle of events has the ability, even at this remove, to stun readers. Photos not seen by PW.