Monday, 19 December 2011

Continuing reading about WWII

I have continued my recent phase of reading histories of World War 2. I am actually quite shocked about how much of it has been new to me. My most recent reading is Max Hastings' Armaggeddon, focused on the last 12 months of the war in Europe. I am surprised by how critical he is of the British and American soldiers in comparison with either the Germans or the Russians. he feels they weren't sufficiently motivated for war as the others were. Also, he feels sure that the Allied commanders would not have accepted the casualty levels that the others would.

Before that I read Rees' Auschwitz, which accompanies his TV series from a couple of years ago, which we have on DVD but which I haven't brought myself to watch yet. I remember years ago seeing the World at War episode about this and haven't watched anything like it since. One of the people featured by Rees cared for her younger sister at the camp, but was seperated just after the liberation when her sister was taken to a hospital. She never saw her again and only found out years later that the sister had died a few days later at the hospital.

What I have been watching is a joint German/Russian documentary series on Stalingrad, which really does emphasise the hardships faced in this battle. After the war, the Russians retained many Germans as prisoners for a number of years. Most were released in the 1950s and there was some film of Germans waiting at stations for the trains to arrive that might have their relatives on them. Of course for everyone who located a relative, there were dozens that went away devasted with disappointment after all that time.

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