'Superb' David Aaronovitch, The Times
'A punchy account that is a proper page-turner' Financial Times
'The last days of the Third Reich have often been told, but seldom with the verve, perception and elegance of Volker Ullrich's rich narrative' Richard Overy, author of The Bombing War
1 May 1945. The world did not know it yet, but the final week of the Third Reich's existence had begun. Hitler was dead, but the war had still not ended. Everything had both ground to a halt and yet remained agonizingly uncertain.
Volker Ullrich's remarkable book takes the reader into a world torn between hope and terror, violence and peace. Ullrich describes how each day unfolds, with Germany now under a new Fuhrer, Admiral Doenitz, based improbably in the small Baltic town of Flensburg. With Hitler dead, Berlin in ruins and the war undoubtedly lost, the process by which the fighting would end remained horrifyingly unclear. Many major Nazis were still on the loose, wild rumours continued to circulate about a last stand in the Alps and the Western allies falling out with the Soviet Union.
All over Europe, millions of soldiers, prisoners, slave labourers and countless exhausted, grief-stricken and often homeless families watched and waited for the war's end. Eight Days in May is the story of people, in Erich Kastner's striking phrase, stuck in 'the gap between no longer and not yet'.
'A fast-paced, brilliant recounting of the turbulent last days of the Third Reich, with all the energy and chaos of a Jackson Pollock canvas' Helmut Walser Smith, author of Germany: A Nation in its Time
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Volker Ullrich is a historian and journalist whose previous books include biographies of Bismarck and Napoleon, as well as a major study of Imperial Germany, The Nervous Superpower, 1871-1918. Ullrich was for many years editor of the political books review section of Die Zeit. His two-volume biography of Adolf Hitler was a German bestseller.
Jefferson Chase is a writer, translator and journalist based in Berlin. He has translated more than a dozen German texts into English, including Volker Ullrich's acclaimed two-volume biography of Hitler.
Superb ... excellent and admirably succinct. -- David Aaronovitch * The Times * Ullrich delivers a punchy account that is a proper page-turner ... there is still plenty to say about immediate postwar Germany. -- Giles MacDonogh * Financial Times * Strongly written and deeply researched ... a vital and often vibrant account of eight days when people all across Europe were suspended in confusion and chaos. * Kirkus * The last days of the Third Reich have often been told, but seldom with the verve, perception and elegance of Volker Ulrich's rich narrative. For Western nations that have never faced comprehensive and destructive defeat, this is an instructive lesson in how societies cope with the devastating reality of a surrender that they grimly await. -- Richard Overy A fast-paced, brilliant recounting of the turbulent last days of the Third Reich. With all the energy and chaos of a Jackson Pollock canvas, Eight Days in May evokes the complete and utter chaos of a collapsing society. -- Helmut Walser Smith, author of Germany: A Nation in its Time The last chapter of the Nazi regime, just before its fall, is perhaps the most interesting. And Volker Ulrich manages to cover the days after Hitler's suicide with brilliant prose, and excellent original research. -- Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich Ullrich's compact, gripping narration brings to life the death throes of the Nazi regime as individual acts of delusion, desperation and resignation. This vivid mosaic of German reactions to defeat is a suspenseful account and original depiction of the ambivalence and disbelief of those who had been spellbound by Hitler. -- Wendy Lower, author of The Ravine
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