In This Review

After Hitler: The Last Ten Days of World War II in Europe
After Hitler: The Last Ten Days of World War II in Europe
By Michael Jones
John Murray, 2015, 400 pp

This admirable book covers the last ten days of World War II in Europe, starting with April 30, 1945, the day of Hitler’s suicide, and concluding on May 9, by which point all German soldiers had surrendered. The book’s strength lies in Jones’ well-crafted account of the complex negotiations over the pace, manner, and location of the surrender. Admiral Karl Dönitz, Hitler’s anointed successor, believed that there were sufficient German fighters, still imbued with Nazi faith, to mount a rear-guard action to split the Allies. But most Germans, aware that the cause was hopelessly lost, sought to hand themselves over to the Americans, the British, or the Canadians—staying as far away as possible from the Russians. All the parties had an eye on how the conclusion of the war might shape the coming political struggles. Although Jones passes too lightly over the backstories of certain events, he skillfully uses diaries and other memoirs to vividly re-create dramatic moments: German civilians suddenly at the mercy of Soviet forces, British troops recoiling at the horror and degradation they found at Nazi concentration camps, and the camaraderie-filled first encounters between victorious troops from the East and the West.