Inside Hitler's bunker The last days of the Third Reich

Joachim C. Fest, 1926-2006

Book - 2004

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Subjects
Published
New York : Farrar, Strauss and Giroux 2004.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
German
Physical Description
190 p. : ill., map
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
0374135770
Main Author
Joachim C. Fest, 1926-2006 (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

With Ian Kershaw, Fest is the most authoritative and reputable of the numerous biographers of the Nazi dictator, and he here continues the reconstruction, initiated by British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper's The Last Days of Hitler (1946), of Hitler's suicide. Fest's may not be the last word, either, as he notes that historians have not yet accessed some Soviet interrogation records of Hitler's retinue. With such caveats, Fest narrates the sequence of the final Soviet offensive against Berlin, as reported to the bomb shelter where Hitler was holed up. Fest pauses in four chapters for interpretive reflection on the spectacle of apocalyptic destruction that was Berlin in April 1945. It had a demented theatricality, Fest argues, in which Hitler took some jubilation and even fulfillment. As his final act in history, willing the city's destruction was a characteristic if intensified outer spectacle of Hitler's inner pathologies. Fest connects his last ravings with the exaltation of hatred, conquest, and death of his preceding course. Well-rendered and judged, Fest's treatment will provoke thought about Nazidom's finale. ((Reviewed February 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Choice Reviews

Noted German historian Fest draws on a number of other works to explain what evidently happened inside Hitler's bunker at the end of WW II. In particular, he pays due homage to H.R. Trevor-Roper's 1947 book The Last Days of Hitler. There are no footnotes, so readers are at a loss to tell the sources of many of the details, but so many other scholars have offered similar material that this shortcoming is of less significance than if the book contained radically new material. What one does miss in this work by such a well-known and respected scholar, however, is some definitive treatment of the information pertaining to Hitler's remains that has been derived by others from the alleged new evidence released by the Russians since the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union. This alleged evidence, which the Russians have offered at least since the mid 1990s, needs to be evaluated by a scholar of Fest's stature. It is too bad he does not address the matter head-on, and instead presents an updated account of the chaos that surrounded the end of the Third Reich and the death of Adolf Hitler. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. Copyright 2004 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

A venerable German historian on the last days of Hitler, here portrayed as intent on bringing Germany down with him. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

German journalist and historian Fest (Hitler: A Biography) has penned another admirable study of Nazi Germany that focuses on the final, cataclysmic days of Hitler's Third Reich in the Führer bunker beneath Berlin. Four factual chapters chronicle events as reconstructed by reliable eyewitness reports and interviews. They are complemented by four reflective chapters that look at the "deeper meaning" behind those events. Reprising a theme from his Hitler biography, Fest describes his subject essentially as a supreme nihilist. The destruction in the final weeks of the war, engendered by Hitler's obstinate refusal to end the fighting long after defeat was certain, gave him, according to Fest, a "greater sense of satisfaction" than any of his early victories. The tragic devastation was further compounded and abetted by the "inculcated obsequiousness" of Hitler's entourage and leading generals, who did little or nothing to stop him. While there are no surprising revelations, Fest does synthesize a daunting body of research obtained from disparate, if sometimes dated, sources into an accessible narrative. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/03.]-Edward Metz, Combined Arms Research Lib., Ft. Leavenworth, KS Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Books on Nazism, Hitler and the Third Reich always seem to find an eager audience, though it is the rare volume, such as Daniel Goldhagen's Hitler's Willing Executioners, that actually manages to spark interest beyond that specialized circle. And so, though this volume is blessed by careful research, by an author who is an expert in his field and by a gripping, tightly focused narrative, it hardly seems destined to appeal to anyone beyond diehard enthusiasts. The book details Hitler's increasing mental and physical disintegration during the final days of WWII, when he was secreted underneath the battle-ravaged streets of Berlin with a last core of supporters. It ends with his suicide as Russian troops close in. Fest is the author of several previous books about Hitler and Nazism (The Face of the Third Reich; Speer; Hitler; etc.). His command of diaries, letters and other primary sources allows him to share such illuminating details as the following: "Hitler's...facial features had become puffy, bloated. The thick, dark pouches under his eyes became more and more noticeable...cake crumbs stuck to the corners of his mouth." Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Relates the final days of World War II in a study of Hitler's final days in the bunker and the torment in Germany's cities and towns as the Third Reich collapsed under the weight of American, British, French, and Russian forces.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

The final days of World War II are related in a study that furnishes details of Hitler's final days in the bunker and the torment on the streets of Germany's cities and towns as the Third Reich collapsed under the weight of American, British, French, and Russian forces. 30,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Inside Hitler's Bunker by the historian Joachim Fest, is a portrayal of the last weeks of the Third Reich. Nothing in recent history comes close to the cataclysmic events that took place during the spring of 1945, when the fall of the Nazi regime was accompanied by destruction of unequaled magnitude. Fest, the author of a highly regarded biography of Hitler, shows in chilling detail that the devastation was not only the result of Allied attacks but also of Hitler's determination to leave behind nothing but a wasteland. Utterly unconcerned about the fate of Berlin's civilian population or of his soldiers, Hitler ordered that water and sewage systems, power plants, factories, roads, and railway lines throughout Germany be destroyed; he commanded his dwindling armies, consisting largely of boys and old men, to fight on long after they had run out of ammunition and defeat had become a certainty.From the desperate battles that raged night and day in the ruins of Berlin, to the growing paranoia that marked Hitler's mental state, to his suicide and the efforts of his loyal aides to destroy his body before the advancing Russian armies reached the bunker, Fest recounts these days in spellbinding prose, while exploring a question that's never been satisfactorily answered: Was Hitler's rise the inevitable outcome of German history, or was it a unique phenomenon? Inside Hitler's Bunker combines meticulous research with compelling storytelling and sheds light on events that, for those who survived them, were indeed nothing less than the end of the world.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

02There is nothing in recent history that comes close to the cataclysmic events of the spring of 1945. Never before has the defeat of a nation been accompanied by such monumental loss of life, such utter destruction. Author Joachim Fest shows that the devastation was the result of Hitler's determination to take the entire country down with him; he would make sure that his enemies would find only a wasteland, where once there was a thriving civilization. Fest describes in riveting detail the final weeks of the war, from the desperate battles that raged night and day in the ruins of Berlin, fought by boys and old men, to the growing paranoia that marked Hitler's mental state--his utter disregard for the well being of both soldiers and civilians-- to his suicide and the efforts of his loyal aides to destroy his body before the advancing Russian armies reached Berlin. Inside Hitler's Bunker combines meticulous research with spellbinding storytelling and sheds light on events that, for those who survived them, were nothing less than the end of the world. There is nothing in recent history that comes close to the cataclysmic events of the spring of 1945. Never before has the defeat of a nation been accompanied by such monumental loss of life, such utter destruction. Author Joachim Fest shows that the devastation was the result of Hitler's determination to take the entire country down with him; he would make sure that his enemies would find only a wasteland, where once there was a thriving civilization. Fest describes in riveting detail the final weeks of the war, from the desperate battles that raged night and day in the ruins of Berlin, fought by boys and old men, to the growing paranoia that marked Hitler's mental state--his utter disregard for the well being of both soldiers and civilians-- to his suicide and the efforts of his loyal aides to destroy his body before the advancing Russian armies reached Berlin. Inside Hitler's Bunker combines meticulous research with spellbinding storytelling and sheds light on events that, for those who survived them, were nothing less than the end of the world.