After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation

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Because the criminal orders were not clearly defined, it allowed the front line troops to interpret it for themselves.

AFTER THE REICH by Giles MacDonogh | Kirkus Reviews

As a result there were mass killings of civilians; people were shot if any suspicion of resistance was evident, at times outright murdered. In addition, during the course of the war roughly 5. Criminal acts such as these demonstrate the how barbaric the Nazis were. MacDonogh fails to mention any of this in his book, which would provide some context behind the way he portrays the Russians. Another critique MacDonogh makes of the Allies is the widespread hunger throughout the British zone of occupation.

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It stank of corpses' MacDonogh While the occupiers were living comfortably, the German civilians were starving, miserable and living off meager rations. Workers began to lose weight at an alarming rate; big men weighed as little as pounds. Upwards of three million children in a particular zone were fainting from hunger. With no funds being allocated to rebuilding the bombarded cities, millions of people were homeless and exposed to an endless struggle for survival.

While the situation was indeed dire for those living in the British zone, understanding the British situation post war provides a different perspective. MacDonogh makes no mention that Great Britain was completely bankrupt, had accumulated a huge war debt, and was struggling to recover from the blows by the war. Throughout the war the German Luftwaffe had carried out countless aerial bombardments on the British cities.

As a result Great Britain's infrastructure was partially destroyed, eliminating much production along with the ability to provide sustenance for Germans in their zone. Adding to their problems, the United States ended the Lend-Lease agreement and Britain was presented with an enormous bill that was to be paid off rapidly.

Germany After WW2 - A Defeated People - Documentary on Germany in the Immediate Aftermath of WW2

With a reeling economy and insufficient funds Britain truly lacked the ability to rebuild the infrastructure and adequately provide for the 23 million Germans in its zone of occupation. MacDonogh effectively portrays the darker side of Allied occupation in Germany and Austria through stories told by a small group of individuals. This form of information gathering provides a perspective of the occupation not often heard. However, as Bianka J. Adams points out in her review in the Journal of Military History , these stories leave room for inaccuracy and are almost impossible to verify.

In MacDonogh's account of the fall of Vienna, he often uses individuals' remembrances of events even though they were not firsthand experiences. While this may be true there is no way to confirm its legitimacy; despite this MacDonogh uses information like this liberally and uncritically.

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Merely citing uncertified sources does not necessarily represent the opinions of the masses. Any student tempted to use this paper for an assignment in another course or school should be aware of the serious consequences for plagiarism.

The Journal of Military History

Here is what I write in my syllabi:. Plagiarism —presenting someone else's work as your own, or deliberately failing to credit or attribute the work of others on whom you draw including materials found on the web —is a serious academic offense, punishable by dismissal from the university.

It hurts the one who commits it most of all, by cheating them out of an education. I report offenses to the Office of the Dean of Students for disciplinary action. Marcuse's homepage. M22 by Matt Stegner December 5, for Prof. Bibliography and Links. Essay back to top May 8th was the day the bloodiest and most brutal war in history came to a close in Europe.

In conclusion, MacDonogh successfully provides a shocking account of the atrocious circumstances the German people endured following WWII. He sheds light on an aspect of history often disregarded or overlooked by other historians. The vivid accounts of cruelty committed by the Russians, hard-line denazification practiced by the Americans, inadequate living conditions provided by the British, and widespread corruption by the French combine to provide a brutal history of Allied occupation.

While MacDonogh succeeds at providing an account of brutal history, he lacks contextual evidence to explain this phenomenon. His failure to address key aspects of the war, including the mammoth loss of life the Russians suffered and Britain's grim economic circumstances, offers readers a biased one sided story. If he appears to accept all negative accounts of the Allied occupation at face value, perhaps it is because his main interest is in telling the story, and especially in telling it from a German-Austrian perspective.


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This narrow viewpoint is the chief weakness of the book, and must be kept in mind. After the Reich is not intended to be objective about the Allied occupation. You will not find any mention of the many acts of individual kindness and organizational charity the Allies performed. What we do with that view—whether we accept it in whole, in part, or not at all—is our choice. The essential fact is that when the Allies entered Germany, they came as conquerors, not as liberators. One way or another, retribution was going to be had.

After the Reich

From MacDonogh's view, the crimes of the National Socialist regime did not justify the brutalization of the German civilian population, mainly because "it was not the criminals who were raped, starved, tortured or bludgeoned to death but women, children and old men" p. To make his case, MacDonogh has waded through multiple first-hand accounts to reconstruct a portrait of incessant despair and injustice, meted out by an alliance of the willing to a population of unarmed, defenseless civilians.

Although MacDonogh's narrative gives the reader a fascinating picture of a chaotic and incredibly violent time in world history, he leaves many archival stones unturned. Compounding his methodological shortcomings, MacDonogh fails to differentiate his judgment as a historian from the often overtly racist views espoused by an indignant deposed German nobility, furious with the intemperate louts wreaking havoc on the estates of eastern Germany.

In every instance, according to MacDonogh, Allied troops stood by while ignorant riff-raff wreaked a misguided revenge on innocent German civilians who themselves had been victims of Nazi intimidation, Allied bombing, and now postwar reprisals. During the forced expulsions of about 12 million Germans from the Reich's eastern provinces, mostly from territory that became part of the newly reconstituted states of Poland and Czechoslovakia, about 2 million died.

Imprisonment in former Nazi concentration camps, death marches, starvation, beatings, rapes and outright murder were all commonplace.

As the Red Army and many local inhabitants saw it, this was justifiable revenge for Germany's monstrous crimes. The Americans, Brits and French didn't engage in violence on anything close to that scale, but they, too, sometimes let their desire for revenge get the better of them.

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