Swansong 1945: A Collective Diary from Hitler's Last Birthday to VE Day

Author(s): Walter Kempowski


Swansong 1945 brings together hundreds of letters, diary extracts and autobiographical accounts to chronicle four days in 1945: 20th April, Hitler's last birthday, 25th April, when American and Soviet troops first met at the Elbe, 30th April, the day Hitler committed suicide, and 8th May, the day of the German surrender. Side by side in these pages, we encounter civilians fleeing on foot to the west, British and American POWs dreaming of home, concentration camp survivors, loyal soldiers from both sides of the conflict as well as national leaders including Churchill. These first-hand accounts, which Walter Kempowski painstakingly collected, organised and shaped for publication over twenty years, provide the raw material of history unmediated by a historian's narrative. The voices of individuals speak for themselves, and through their many experiences, perspectives and situations, the condition of Europe during the zero hour of war is viscerally recreated. A modern classic, this vital work brings to life a time whose repercussions are still felt today.


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A monumental work of history which brings to life four final days of World War II through letters, diaries, and eyewitness accounts

WALTER KEMPOWSKI (1929-2007) was one of Germany's most important post-war writers. His first success as an author was with his acclaimed series of novels German Chronicles. In the 1980s he began work on Echo Soundings [Das Echolot], gathering together first hand accounts, diaries, letters and memoirs of the second world war, which he collated and curated into ten volumes published over 20 years, and which is considered a modern classic. Swansong 1945, published in Germany in 2005, is the final volume of that work.

General Fields

  • : 9781847086402
  • : Granta Books
  • : Little Hills Press
  • : November 2014
  • : 234mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : November 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Walter Kempowski
  • : Hardback
  • : Dec-14
  • : English
  • : 940.54013
  • : 384
  • : illustrations