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The aftermath
July 14, 2011 10:59 PM   Subscribe

What are the best books (or book chapters) on the end of WW2 in Germany -- and particularly the chaos of the immediate post-war period (1945-46)?

I'm after non-fiction or autobiographical. Social history, by preference.
posted by dontjumplarry to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
After the Reich has been well reviewed.

The picture it paints is grim.
posted by sien at 11:01 PM on July 14, 2011


After the Reich is good, though the narrative is a bit disjointed and a full picture doesn't emerge quickly. Tony Judt's Post War covers the same period on a broader scale, for both Eastern and Western Europe.
posted by girlgenius at 11:19 PM on July 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


A Woman in Berlin is absolutely incredible. It covers three months from April to June 1945, and is a (formerly) anonymous memoir written by a German woman dealing with life during the Soviet occupation. It's incredibly powerful and moving. Reading that book helped me understand Germans as people rather than just as Nazis.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:40 PM on July 14, 2011


Antony Beevor's Berlin- The Downfall is excellent. I strongly recommend you read Stalingrad first, though it isn't strictly speaking required.
posted by Canageek at 1:00 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Berlin by David Clay Large, the end chapters. Focused on the capital city as a microcosm for what happened in Germany as a whole. And I think, more humanizing and societal look in history as a result.
posted by everyday_naturalist at 2:05 AM on July 15, 2011


Slightly leftfield relative to the topic, but you may be interested in Norman Naimark's Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe--specifically chapter 4, which is about the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia after the war. It's very good, though obviously nothing about this book can be described as fun.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 2:14 AM on July 15, 2011


Stig Dagerman's German Autumn. An eyewitness account of the Swedish writer.
posted by ijsbrand at 3:12 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Germany 1945 is exactly what you're looking for. Focuses solely on that one year. Am reading it now, haven't finished yet. Good combination of big picture, data, and on-the-ground examples of how the lives of specific families and individuals were affected. NYT Review here.
posted by webhund at 6:04 AM on July 15, 2011


Endgame: 1945 be David Stafford.
posted by Rash at 8:44 AM on July 15, 2011


Art of Two Germanys/Cold War Cultures has several sections discussing the art scene (particularly in Berlin) during the occupation and the split into East and West Germany, and the impact the war/downfall/division had on German art and society for decades. Some good photography of Berlin after the war and during the occupation, too. (Disclaimer: I edited the book.)
posted by scody at 10:09 AM on July 15, 2011


W.G. Sebald's On the Natural History of Destruction
posted by perhapses at 10:11 AM on July 15, 2011


German Boy by Wolfgang Samuel.
posted by gudrun at 8:14 PM on July 15, 2011


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