Why are we drawn to certain cities? Perhaps because of a story read in childhood. Or a chance teenage meeting. Or maybe simply because the place touches us, embodying in its tribes, towers and history an aspect of our understanding of what it means to be human. Paris is about romantic love. Lourdes equates with devotion. New York means energy. London is forever trendy.
Berlin is all about volatility.
Berlin is a city of fragments and ghosts, a laboratory of ideas, the fount of both the brightest and darkest designs of history's most bloody century. The once arrogant capital of Europe was devastated by Allied bombs, divided by the Wall, then reunited and reborn as one of the creative centers of the world. Today it resonates with the echo of lives lived, dreams realized, and evils executed with shocking intensity. No other city has repeatedly been so powerful and fallen so low; few other cities have been so shaped and defined by individual imaginations.
Berlin tells the volatile history of Europe's capital over five centuries through a series of intimate portraits of two dozen key residents: the medieval balladeer whose suffering explains the Nazis' rise to power; the demonic and charismatic dictators who schemed to dominate Europe; the genius Jewish chemist who invented poison gas for First World War battlefields and then the death camps; the iconic mythmakers like Christopher Isherwood, Leni Riefenstahl, and David Bowie, whose heated visions are now as real as the city's bricks and mortar. Alongside them are portrayed some of the countless ordinary Berliners who one has never heard of, whose lives can only be imagined: the Scottish mercenary who fought in the Thirty Years' War, the ambitious prostitute who refashioned herself as a baroness, the fearful Communist Party functionary who helped to build the Wall, and the American spy from the Midwest whose patriotism may have turned the course of the Cold War.
Berlin is a history book like no other, with an originality that reflects the nature of the city itself. In its architecture, through its literature, in its movies and songs, Berliners have conjured their hard capital into a place of fantastic human fantasy. No other city has so often surrendered itself to its own seductive myths. No other city has been so shaped and defined by individual imaginations. Berlin captures, portrays, and propagates the remarkable story of those myths and their makers.
When Hitler's war ended in 1945, the war over Hitler--who he really was, what gave birth to his unique evil--had just begun. Hitler did not escape the bunker in Berlin but, half a century later, he has managed to escape explanation in ways both frightening and profound. Explaining Hitler is an extraordinary quest, an expedition into the war zone of Hitler theories. This is a passionate, enthralling book that illuminates what Hitler explainers tell us about Hitler, about the explainers, and about ourselves.
Cycling Book of the Year 2015 - Cross British Sports Book Award
Unbeknownst to the authorities, however, he had fallen in love with Sylvia Hermann, a girl from the other side of the wall. Socialist doctrine had it that the two of them were 'class enemies', and as a famous athlete Dieter's every move was pored over by the Stasi. Only he abhorred their ideology, and in Sylvia saw his only chance of freedom. Now, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse, he plotted his escape.
In 1964 he was delegated, once and once only, to West Germany. Here he was to ride a qualification race for the Tokyo Olympics, but instead committed the most treacherous of all the crimes against socialism. Dieter Wiedemann, sporting icon and Soviet pawn, defected to the other side.
Whilst Wiedemann fulfilled his lifetime ambition of racing in the Tour de France, his defection caused a huge scandal. The Stasi sought to 'repatriate' him, with horrific consequences both for him and the family he left behind. Fifty years on, and twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dieter Wiedemann decided it was time to tell his story. Through his testimony and that of others involved, and well as through the Stasi file - an organization that has stalked him for half a century - Herbie Sykes uncovers an astonishing tale. It is one of love and betrayal, of the madness at the heart of the cold war, and of the greatest bike race in history.
Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1945 is an abridged edition of Saul Friedl nder's definitive Pulitzer Prize-winning two-volume history of the Holocaust: Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 and The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945.
The book's first part, dealing with the National Socialist campaign of oppression, restores the voices of Jews who were engulfed in an increasingly horrifying reality following the Nazi accession to power. Friedl nder also provides the accounts of the persecutors themselves--and, perhaps most telling of all, the testimonies of ordinary German citizens who, in general, stood silent and unmoved by the increasing waves of segregation, humiliation, impoverishment, and violence.
The second part covers the German extermination policies that resulted in the murder of six million European Jews--an official program that depended upon the cooperation of local authorities and police departments, the passivity of the populations, and the willingness of the victims to submit in desperate hope of surviving long enough to escape the German vise.
A monumental, multifaceted study now contained in a single volume, Saul Friedl nder's Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1933-1945 is an essential study of a dark and complex history.
From the "New York Times" reporters who first uncovered S.S. officer Aribert Heim s secret life in Egypt comes the never-before-told story of the most hunted Nazi war criminal in the world.
Dr. Aribert Heim worked at the Mauthausen concentration camp for only a few months in 1941 but left a devastating mark. According to the testimony of survivors, Heim euthanized patients with injections of gasoline into their hearts. He performed surgeries on otherwise healthy people. Some recalled prisoners' skulls set out on his desk to display perfect sets of teeth. Yet in the chaos of the postwar period, Heim was able to slip away from his dark past and establish himself as a reputable doctor and family man in the resort town of Baden-Baden. His story might have ended there, but for certain rare Germans who were unwilling to let Nazi war criminals go unpunished, among them a police investigator named Alfred Aedtner. After Heim fled on a tip that he was about to be arrested, Aedtner turned finding him into an overriding obsession. His quest took him across Europe and across decades, and into a close alliance with legendary Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal. The hunt for Heim became a powerful symbol of Germany's evolving attitude toward the sins of its past, which finally crested in a desire to see justice done at almost any cost.
As late as 2009, the mystery of Heim s disappearance remained unsolved. Now, in "The Eternal Nazi," Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet reveal for the first time how Aribert Heim evaded capture--living in a working-class neighborhood of Cairo, praying in Arabic, beloved by an adopted Muslim family--while inspiring a manhunt that outlived him by many years. It is a brilliant feat of historical detection that illuminates a nation s dramatic reckoning with the crimes of the Holocaust."
Otto Friedrich's powerful portrayal of Auschwitz is both an extraordinary reminder of the human capacity for evil and an eloquent message to humanity never to let such things happen again. --Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
I know of no work which brings the reality of this evil place so directly, vividly, accurately, movingly and clearly. . . .It is quite simply the best short account ever produced. --Paul Johnson
A short and thoroughly accurate history of the Auschwitz concentration camp, this compelling book is authoritative in its factual details, devastating in its emotional impact.
In this compelling work, Brian Ladd examines the ongoing conflicts radiating from the remarkable fusion of architecture, history, and national identity in Berlin. Ladd surveys the urban landscape, excavating its ruins, contemplating its buildings and memorials, and carefully deconstructing the public debates and political controversies emerging from its past."Written in a clear and elegant style, The Ghosts of Berlin is not just another colorless architectural history of the German capital. . . . Mr. Ladd's book is a superb guide to this process of urban self-definition, both past and present."--Katharina Thote, Wall Street Journal "If a book can have the power to change a public debate, then The Ghosts of Berlin is such a book. Among the many new books about Berlin that I have read, Brian Ladd's is certainly the most impressive. . . . Ladd's approach also owes its success to the fact that he is a good storyteller. His history of Berlin's architectural successes and failures reads entertainingly like a detective novel."--Peter Schneider, New Republic " Ladd's] well-written and well-illustrated book amounts to a brief history of the city as well as a guide to its landscape."--Anthony Grafton, New York Review of Books
Swansong 1945 chronicles the end of Nazi Germany and World War II in Europe through hundreds of letters, diaries, and autobiographical accounts covering four days that fateful spring: Hitler's birthday on April 20, American and Soviet troops meeting at the Elbe on April 25, Hitler's suicide on April 30, and finally the German surrender on May 8. Side by side, we encounter vivid, first-person accounts of civilians fleeing Berlin, ordinary German soldiers determined to fight to the bitter end, American POWs dreaming of home, concentration-camp survivors' first descriptions of their horrific experiences, as well as the intimate thoughts of figures such as Eisenhower, Churchill, Stalin, Joseph Goebbels, and Hitler himself.
These firsthand accounts, painstakingly collected and organized by renowned German author Walter Kempowski, provide the raw material of history and present a panoramic view of those tumultuous days. The more than 1,000 extracts include a British soldier writing to his parents to tell them there are no baths but plenty of eggs and chocolate, an American soldier describing "the tremendous burst of lilacs" as he approaches the Elbe, Mussolini wishing Hitler a happy birthday, Eva Braun bragging to a girlfriend about what a "crack shot" she's become, and much more.
An extraordinary account of suffering and survival, Swansong 1945 brings to life the end of Nazi Germany and the war in Europe.