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The Fall of Berlin 1945

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

An excellent account of the fall of Berlin.

This is a well researched and written account of the fall of Berlin. It fills a void somewhere between Cornelius Ryan's 'The Last Battle' (excellent for the casual historian) and Read and Fisher's 'The Fall of Berlin' (a more detailed and lengthy account). It's g...
This is a well researched and written account of the fall of Berlin. It fills a void somewhere between Cornelius Ryan's 'The Last Battle' (excellent for the casual historian) and Read and Fisher's 'The Fall of Berlin' (a more detailed and lengthy account). It's good mesh of historical background and personal experiences from the battle. Most of the criticisms I have read about the book seem more motivated by a 'Politically Correct' approach to history than by the truth. German atrocities throughout the war are well documented and are not the focus of this book. The Red Army DID (by all accounts save their own) engage in widespread rape and looting in eastern Germany and Berlin. Beevor gives a balanced account - he does not glorify German resistance, Nazism, or the Soviet advance. He simply tells what happened. Rape is a predominant theme in the book, but it was a predominant concern of the German women, and a fact of the war. This is a solid piece of work on one of the greatest human dramas in history. Don't let those with a hidden agenda steer away from this book.

posted by Anonymous on June 26, 2002

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The Fall of Berlin 1945-A Good Read About the Final Days of WWII

The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor follows the End of World War II From Christmas 1944 until May of 1945, mainly on the Eastern Front. Well documented, it covers the armies of both Russia and Nazi Germany, its leaders and soldiers and how the civilians caught in ...
The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor follows the End of World War II From Christmas 1944 until May of 1945, mainly on the Eastern Front. Well documented, it covers the armies of both Russia and Nazi Germany, its leaders and soldiers and how the civilians caught in the middle awaited the Soviet onslaught of millions of men and thousands of tanks and artillery. At this stage of the game, it was just a matter of time before the Soviet war machine made its final crushing blow. With Stalin at the helm, he knew that he wanted more than the defeat of the Nazis. There were many other prizes: gold, nuclear scientist, new countries to rule and exploit with an endless supply of slave labor. But, the biggest prize of all was the body of Adolf Hitler.

Beevor takes the reader through the last days of the war and the ultimate capture of Berlin.
Like many other times during the war there was politics involved. And this time was no different. Stalin feared that the Americans and the British would arrive in Berlin first so extra manpower was diverted to capture the city. Hence, Russian units that could have been more valuable at other locations were diverted to the Berlin corridor. At times units were firing at each other. Russian generals, Zukov in particular, was in competition with other Russian generals to claim the Berlin bragging rights. Soviet NKVD and SMERSH units had their hands full with POWs, deserters, and Stalin's orders to hide any activity at Hitler's bunker.

Much is written on the atrocities of the Soviets as they advanced forward. Rape and pillaging were the rule rather than the exception. This is covered quite extensively in the book with graphic descriptions-so those with sensitive stomachs are pre-warned. Kind of comical is how Hitler was pulling at straws in the later days and even appointed the incompetent Heinrich Himmler to command Army Group Vistula. Also, many of his generals already had a defeatist attitude and Hitler thought that Wenck's 12th Army would come to the rescue. It never did. Little is mentioned about the fight in the West, as the focus in the book is about the East.

The Fall of Berlin 1945 is an interesting book and is typical Beevor. This book is a good read as it covers both military and civilian perspectives. One thing that I like about his writing is that he covers the human aspects of the war and gives many personal accounts. This gives the reader more insight than the usual order of battle strategies found in many other books. Blending it in with the actual battles and day to day operations leads to an interesting read. This is where this book shines, as the tragedy and triumph of the war comes to a close. But, I would recommend reading his other books first as they all lead up to this climatic closure of the war.

Robert Glasker

posted by Azpooldude on May 26, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2002

    Deceitful and patronizing

    The entire book is based on memoirs, interviews and other such folklore, which for a serious historian is about just as valuable as yesteryear¿s snow. Time and time again the reader is subjected to a barrage of curious but uninformative personal recollections expertly served under the author¿s own sauce. Ilya Ehrenburg ¿ a Jewish Soviet journalist and a writer is mentioned on numerous occasions by Beevor as the principal instigator of the alleged atrocities committed by the Soviet troops in Germany. Being a journalist himself, Anthony Beevor seriously believes that a freelance journalist was responsible for the Red Army attitude toward the Germans. On top of that Beevor is quoting what he believes to be Ehrenburg¿s articles from wartime Soviet newspapers. Anthony Beevor incorrectly attributes the following quote to Ilya Ehrenburg: ¿Do not count days; do not count miles. Count only the number of Germans you have killed. Kill the German - this is your mother's prayer. Kill the German - this is the cry of your Russian earth. Do not waver. Do not let up. Kill.¿ [p. 169] Without giving specific sources (a common problem with his book), Beevor insists that this is a quote from an article published by Ehrenburg in 1942. This is an apparent reference to the article by Ehrenburg entitled ¿About Hatred¿ and published in the ¿Red Star¿ newspaper in 1942. (Without providing a source, it seems that Mr. Beevor expects his reader to deduce this information on his own. This is the same so-called quote Beevor used in his ¿Stalingrad¿.) However, if one would to look at the original article (and not just one of many ¿imitation¿ Ehrenburg articles prepared by Goebbels and his propaganda ministry), one would be hard pressed to find anything even remotely similar to the text quoted by Beevor. In fact, Ehrenburg¿s article is completely opposite in word and spirit to what Mr. Beevor would like his readers to believe: ¿We do not dream of revenge: can revenge really quench our indignation? Soviet people will never fall to the level of fascists, they will never torture children and wounded. We are looking for something different: only justice can lessen our pain. Nobody can bring back to life the children of Kerch. Nobody can erase from our memory things we lived through. We decided to destroy the fascists: justice demands this. Our understanding of kindness, brotherhood and humanity demands this.¿ In the same article Ehrenburg writes: ¿If the German soldier puts down his weapon and surrenders we won¿t lay a finger on him ¿ he will live. Perhaps the future Germany will reeducate him, turn a mindless killer into a worker and a human being. Let German teachers think about this. We are thinking about other things: our land, our work, our families. We have learned to hate because we know how to love.¿ Understandably, these passages knock the wind out of Beevor¿s neat little theory about hordes of unwashed Ivans rampaging through countryside Rhineland in search of things to steal, rape and burn. Beevor did not bother to check his sources because he liked them just as they came to him. This is just one of many examples. The quotes offered by Anthony Beevor in his book are of questionable origins. Sometimes, as we can see, these quotes are not just grossly inaccurate but are completely bogus. The author did not go through the trouble to verify his sources because the information he thought he had nicely supported his distorted view of the Soviet people and the Red Army. In his book Beevor presented this biased view to his readers to be swallowed whole without any questions. Not this time, thank you very much.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2002

    An interesting choice of sources

    ¿As Goebbels has frankly remarked in his memoirs¿¿ ¿ wrote one German historian in the early 1970s in his attempt at yet another revisionist ¿history¿ book. Unfortunately, this seems to be the type of sources used by Anthony Beevor for his latest work. What do we know about the alleged incident at Nemmersdorf, which the author of ¿The Fall of Berlin: 1945¿ uses as the opening clause of his story? We definitely know that there was some film footage of Nemmersdorf produced and directed by Dr. Goebbels and his ¿Ministry of Truth¿ after the Germans have retaken this town in Eastern Prussia following a brief occupation by Chernyakhovsky¿s forces and their subsequent withdrawal in the fall of 1944. The film shows some burning `Lend-Lease¿ Studebakers, ruined buildings and a few bodies of civilians. The commentary behind the screen ¿explains¿ how the hordes of Ivans plundered the town and raped every female in sight regardless of age or species. As an undeniable proof Anthony Beevor mentions a little-known book by an obscure German writer. The book is in German and in Germany, of course. Well, at least Mr. Beevor did not quote the good old Doc. Just for that we all should feel much obliged. Other sources of Mr. Beevor¿s are even more entertaining: some professionally-written recollections by a Soviet playwright form the nucleus of Anthony Beevor¿s list of hard-core historical documents. Any lingering doubts about the true intentions of the Red Army in Germany are sure to be resolved by the quoted personal letters, memoirs and oral reminiscences put to paper fifty years after the war. One cannot argue that such a monolith of documentary evidence is enough to rip the mask of hypocrisy off Marshal Zhukov¿s cheerful face and once and for all show the world the true animal nature of the Soviet aggression against Nazi Germany. And then the book is just old plain boring. With each page, I found it increasingly more difficult to turn to the next one. So, all right, the book is not historically accurate, unbiased or well documented, but at least the author should have tried to make it entertaining, since that¿s what really sells these days! I know Mr. Beevor can write entertaining stuff. He did it before and no doubt will do it again. This book, however, is a loss. The author seems to be unable to drop his journalistic approach to research and writing. Not that there is anything wrong with such an approach, but we are not talking about a column in the local tabloid here and Mr. Beevor seems to be forgetting that `history¿ does not mean `his story¿.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2002

    Fall of Berlin 1945

    The book contains 102 occurrences of the word ¿rape¿ in all of its forms. Yet, the author presents no documentary evidence to support the sensationalist nature of his novel. The underlying suggestion stalking the reader of Anthony Beevor¿s latest book is that the Red Army invaded Germany, raped its population and plundered it resources. Moreover, the author insists, these alleged activities were conducted with support and direction from the Soviet command and on the scale comparable with, if not greater than, Nazi crimes against humanity. Lacking basic documentation and littered with unverifiable assertions this is not a history book but a work of fiction, whatever its literary merits may be.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2002

    A mistake

    The book is deceitful in character and accusatory in language. The accused are men and women of the Red Army who gave their lives to the great cause of ridding the world of the cancer of fascism. These heroic people, who put their lives on the line every day for four long years, are being accused by Anthony Beevor of coming to Germany with one purpose in mind: to kill, rape and steal from the Germans. The author presents his book as a revelation. ¿¿Prominent Nazis, refused to recognize that few things reveal more about political leaders and their systems than the manner of their downfall,¿ Anthony Beevor states in the Preface of his book. But the book is not about the Nazis and their crimes; it¿s about the Red Army and its alleged crimes in the occupied Germany. When talking about the downfall of the Nazi regime in Germany and things that some ¿refuse to recognize¿ Anthony Beevor in fact implies the downfall of the Soviet system and his intention to make us ¿recognize¿ some of the things about that political system. What evidence does the author present to substantiate his ideas about the Red Army¿s occupation of Germany? The ¿evidence¿ is centered on personal letters and memoirs mentioning some particulars of life in Germany at the end of the Second World War. Certain official documents ¿ both German and Soviet ¿ are also mentioned but at the same time ignored. It is not a secret that punishment for rape and looting in the Red Army was severe. Numerous documents confirm that harsh penalties for such offenses were not just a legal formality but a laws strictly enforced among the Soviet troops by the efficient Stalinist security apparatus. In fact, Anthony Beevor does mention some such instances and documents. However, such references are only made with the purpose of dismissing this evidence as propaganda and conspiracy. Instead, the author uses particular direct or indirect witness stories to support a wider allegation of what can be described only as a purposeful ethnic cleansing campaign through rape. Time and time again Anthony Beevor turns to the diaries of the Russian playwright Zakhar Agranenko, who describes some harrowing scenes from the encounters between Soviet troops and German civilians. Such unfortunate incidents did occur and there is no denying this. But they were just that ¿ incidents. And Agranenko¿s diaries are just personal, undocumented recollections of some particular events. This must not be used in support of some grand conspiracy theory that mixes with dirt the names of millions of Soviet soldiers who paid with their lives for our freedom. Anthony Beevor, as it seems, has a different opinion¿

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2002

    Fall of Berlin 1945

    After browsing through the list of sources at the end of the book I expected 'The Fall of Berlin 1945' to be at least an informative and well-documented work, but I was disappointed. The author chose a sensationalist approach to writing on a highly controversial subject of the relationship between the Red Army and the German population during the last months of the Second World War. Majority of the sources used by the author to support his allegations are not official documents but personal letters, memoirs, and interviews. Often vague individual descriptions of specific incidents are unfairly used to support Anthony Beevor's attempt to represent the Soviet Army in Germany as a horde of rapists, looters and murderers. In some instances, as the case of alleged rape and mass-murder in Nemmersdorf, the author doesn¿t even bother to go into the details or to provide any relevant documentation. Time and time again personal recollections of particular incidents that took place between the Soviet troops and the German civilians are used to paint the bigger picture, while official documents, though briefly mentioned, are not given much consideration and disregarded as either propaganda or massive cover-up. A characteristic example is the quote from a letter written by a young Soviet woman soldier in which she gripes to a friend about the problems of her love life and writes: ¿How difficult it is here to find a really faithful man.¿ Anthony Beevor uses this trivial, idealistic letter to substantiate his assertion that ¿The Red Army attitude towards women had become openly proprietorial¿¿ The author attempts to put together a giant and highly complex jigsaw puzzle with the most of the pieces missing. He tries to substitute his rich imagination in place of the many missing facts, but this approach just doesn¿t work for a history book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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