I had never read a single book by Ian Kershaw before “The End”. To be honest, none of his works ever fascinated me and even if they did sometimes, I could not get myself to read them because of my basic preconception: They would be highly pedantic, but I was proved wrong when I picked up The End and could not let go till I had finished reading it.
The End: Hitler’s Germany: 1944-1945 is a clear indication by the title as to what kind of a book this will be. It is about the End days of Hitler’s Germany and how his soldiers and army were still not willing to give up till the very end, despite being fully aware of how this was going to end for them.
A lot has been written on this topic. Almost every World War II historian has made it a point to document and publish the Nazi Regime, and yet something about this book is unique. The very thought and idea of how Hitler’s imagery and perception was so engrained in his regime that even though he was broken man, they fought on regardless, almost unwilling to believe that their demi-god had met his fate – that of ruin.
All this while, as his empire was falling, Hitler tried keeping things normal. From postal service to magazine publication to the day-to-day living – nothing changed. A mask had to be kept on. Ian Kershaw attempts to explore the idea of German people to go down with the regime. He touches upon the structure and mentality of the “charismatic rule” which I personally found very intriguing throughout the book.
Ian Kershaw is an authority on the Third Reich with all that he has written on the topic. Like I said I haven’t read a book by him earlier, however The End has been written with great depth and intensity. Sir Ian Kershaw also focuses on The End as seen through the eyes of commoners – the Germans who instilled all faith in Adolf.
The End closes with the surrender and defeat of Germany. Hitler as well know committed suicide and no one even knew for days on. Civilians suffered and so did soldiers. Everything came to a standstill and despite this earlier Germany continued to fight.
I will not forget this book for a long time because of the kind of impact it had on me. Hitler’s regime ended and the consequences prior and post that were paid by all – especially innocent people. The book did not seem dense or a heavy read to me all. In fact at one point I wished it would not end so soon. A must read for all History lovers.