Berlin: The Downfall 1945

In February 1943, a Red Army officer taunted a group of German prisoners in the ruins of Stalingrad. “That’s how Berlin is going to look!”
Antony BeevorStalingrad (1998)

I just finished listening to Antony Beevors’ Book Berlin: The Downfall 1945. I had finished listening “Stalingrand” (also by Beevor) around a month ago and had started with this book right after.

Beevor provides minute day-to-day details an anecdotes from everyday live which can convey a lot more meaning that any data, troop movements, or grandiose speeches.

The book devotes spends a bit of time describing “indecent events” the Red Army. This is even more appalling in those cases where rape victims were jews, German communists or even liberated Russian forced labourers.

Photo credits: Monovision.

I headed to wikipedia after finishing the book and found out, somehow unsurprised, that the book had been contested by many, especially in Russia.

The book encountered criticism, especially in Russia,[4] centering on the book’s discussion of atrocities committed by the Red Army against German civilians. In particular, the book describes widespread rape of German women and female Soviet forced labourers, both before and after the war. The Russian ambassador to the UK denounced the book as “lies” and “slander against the people who saved the world from Nazism”.[5]

Oleg Rzheshevsky, a professor and the president of the Russian Association of World War II Historians, has stated that Beevor is merely resurrecting the discredited and racist views of Neo-Nazi historians, who depicted Soviet troops as subhuman “Asiatic hordes”.[6] He argues that Beevor’s use of phrases such as “Berliners remember” and “the experiences of the raped German women” were better suited “for pulp fiction, than scientific research”. Rzheshevsky also stated that the Germans could have expected an “avalanche of revenge” after what they did in the Soviet Union, but “that did not happen”.[7]

Beevor responded by stating that he used excerpts from the report of General Tsigankov, the chief of the political department of the 1st Ukrainian Front, as a source. He wrote: “the bulk of the evidence on the subject came from Soviet sources, especially the NKVD reports in GARF (State Archive of the Russian Federation), and a wide range of reliable personal accounts”.[8] Beevor also stated that he hopes Russian historians will “take a more objective approach to material in their own archives which are at odds to the heroic myth of the Red Army as ‘liberators’ in 1945”.[9]

UK historian Richard Overy, from the University of Exeter, has criticized Russian reaction to the book and defended Beevor. Overy accused the Russians of refusing to acknowledge Soviet war crimes, “Partly this is because they felt that much of it was justified vengeance against an enemy who committed much worse, and partly it was because they were writing the victors’ history”.[7]

Wikipedia: Berlin, the Downfall 1945, 4.Reception
Photo credits: Monovision.

I am planning on reading his book on the Spanish Civil war this summer, but I need some buffer and a change of subject first. I think I will reading The Parrot’s Theorem to clear up the air a little.


Update: While looking for images for this post I came across a “Battle for Berlin battle-set” with metal models:

I understand that in time all wars become just a date on History Book, but the 5 Hitler youth models were particularly unsettling, but life goes on, I guess.


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