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The Many Faces of Defeat

The German People's Experience in 1945


Edward N. Peterson

This book examines the great variety of experiences of the German people at the end of World War II, beginning with the frightening bombings, the passage of armies, the imprisonment of soldiers and civilians, the troop occupation of each of five separate zones, plus Berlin and Königsberg, and their impact on the defeated. This experience ranged from a liberation from the SS, to an enormous relief that the war's killing was over, to the rapings of women, particularly in the east, to a massive looting and destruction, again worst in the east, and the expulsion of millions from their ancestral homes. The beginnings of recovery and self-government in the four zones, moving particularly quickly in the American zone. The fundamental result everywhere: Hunger.


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THE SOVIET/RUSSIAN The USSR - Victor Impoverished The Super-Power's Feet or Clay Although the USSR had suffered the greatest losses of wealth and people, it moved west to add a territory larger than Spain and Portugal. The expansion could be also regarded as a regaining most of the land lost in 1918, but USSR power had advanced farther into Europe than Russia had ever been before. Al- though Stalin had been, like America, isolationist before the war, he grabbed the opportunity offered him to make his nation into the second "Super Power." This designation would better describe the USSR that was in creation, rather than the nation in existence. Military losses had been some 7.5 million men, and civilian deaths between 6 and 8 million more. Including deaths in Stalin's labor camps, probably 20 million Russians died premature deaths during the war. Yet Alexander Werth judged the postwar years among the most difficult in USSR history, partly from a keen sense of inferiority to America. The impact of the Hiroshima bomb was enormous; many Russians thought that their four years of fighting and millions of lives lost had become "as good as wasted." In ten days the Supreme Soviet instrUcted the Planning Commission to get busy on a new Five Year Plan. "No breathing space was to be allowed to the Russian people; the great industrial and economic reconstruction of the country was to start immediately. And as part of it, the making of the Russian atom bomb."l With...

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