Antony Beevor’s critically acclaimed historical masterpiece is a gripping and frequently harrowing account of the Red Army’s capture of the German capital in World War II’s final stages. Berlin: The Downfall 1945 was the Non-Fiction winner of the Folio Readers’ Choice 2017.
On finally reaching the Reich in January 1945, the Red Army had revenge on its mind. The ensuing story of rape, massacre and destruction is truly shocking. The reluctance of the Nazi chiefs to allow the evacuation of civilians resulted in the deaths, through extreme cold or execution, of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people, with more than seven million fleeing to the west to escape the marauding Russian forces.
The confrontation between the hubris of an insane German Führer willing to sacrifice Berlin and all its inhabitants and the ruthless determination of Stalin to seize the city ahead of the Allies (no matter what the cost) represented the ultimate battle between two of the most powerful military leaders in all history. Its outcome would change the face of Europe for ever.
Beevor tells both of inhuman cruelty and of startling acts of kindness, generosity and compassion. His intricate and absorbing narrative describes mass atrocities committed by both sides; Stalin’s manipulation of his leading generals against each other; Hitler’s increasingly paranoid and delusional behaviour from the safety of his bunker; the 14-year-old boys sent on bicycles in suicide missions against Soviet tanks; the ferocious battle to capture the Reichstag; the horrors of Allied bombing raids; and the SS squads roaming Berlin hunting for deserters.
From the senior Allied, German and Russian commanders through the foot-soldiers of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army to the civilians caught up in the bloody swathe of destruction in continental Europe, Berlin reveals the conflict from the perspectives of all the parties involved.
Packed with riveting detail and anecdotes of the campaign and the everyday life of combatants and bystanders, the text features specially researched contemporary photographs ranging from the atmospheric and tragic, to the graphic and horrific. These include memorable depictions of Berliners digging anti-tank ditches around the city; a Russian T-34 tank approaching Berlin; and rows of bombing-raid casualties lining the streets.
Continuing the series launched by Antony Beevor’s equally lauded Stalingrad, this Folio Society edition is housed in a pictorial slipcase depicting the Red Army raising their flag over Tempelhof airport. The book’s blocked binding shows a Russian soldier shooting from a Breslau balcony in 1945, while photographic endpapers feature the ruins of the Reichstag plus Soviet soldiers marching through Berlin.
Bound in blocked cloth
Set in Adobe Garamond Pro with Future Condensed display
Frontispiece and 32 pages of black and white plates; 16 integrated black and white maps
10˝ x 6¾˝