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Berlin: The Downfall 1945

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Berlin - The Downfall 1945 by Antony Beevor‘Berlin: The Downfall 1945′ was first published in 2002 and written by acclaimed historian Antony Beevor. It tells the grim story of the last months of World War 2 in Europe and the bloody battle for Berlin. My paperback copy is 431 pages long and includes a large number of maps and a useful glossary. It begins at Christmas 1944. Berlin is being bombed by the Americans during the day and by the RAF during the night. The city is being reduced to rubble as the 3 million inhabitants struggle to find enough air raid shelters and realise that Hitler has led the country to ruin. But the thing that scares people most of all is the Red Army. The Soviet Union has 6.7 million soldiers on a front from the Baltic to the Adriatic and thousands of tanks, planes, heavy guns and the terrifying ‘katyusha’ rockets. They are 40 miles from Berlin and the only thing that stands between them and the capital are the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel; foreign SS, Hitler Youth, Luftwaffe pilots organised into army divisions because there are few planes left to fly, what is left of the Wehrmacht and the Volkssturm – Germany’s version of the Home Guard. The surreal and ruthless nature of Germany’s pointless resistance – orchestrated by an increasingly isolated and mad Hitler in a damp bunker – is shatteringly conveyed by Beevor who never forgets the human element to battles and carnage.

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