Publication Date: 28/09/2023 ISBN: 9781800243507 Category:

Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans

Daniel Cowling

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 28/09/2023 ISBN: 9781800243507 Category:


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Germany, spring 1945. Hitler is dead and his armies crushed. Across the conquered Reich, cities lie devastated by Allied saturation bombing; their traumatised populations, exhausted and embittered by defeat, face a future of acute privation and hardship.

Such was the broken state of the nation in which a British civilian and military force arrived in the spring and summer of 1945. Their zone of occupation was the northern and northwestern part of Germany, the country’s former industrial heartland. Their task? To build democracy from the ruins of Hitler’s Reich, and, having defeated Nazism on the battlefield, to ‘win the peace’ by eradicating Nazism from German hearts and minds.

As well as offering a vivid narrative of the British occupation in political and military terms, from the Potsdam Conference to the Berlin Airlift, Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans explores the day-to-day experiences of the ordinary Britons who worked for the Control Commission for Germany between 1945 and 1949. Some reconstructed bridges and schools, supervised the destruction of military materiel and brought fugitive Nazis to justice; while others became entangled in black marketeering, corruption and sexual scandal. In time, they would find themselves on the front line of the Cold War, as irreconcilable tensions divided Europe between East and West.

Publisher Review

A gripping account of the post-war period detailing life in the British Zone. The Allies may have won the war but with Germany in ruins and millions homeless, hopeless and starving, would they win the peace? * Julia Boyd, author of A Village in the Third Reich * An endlessly wonderful evocation of the post-War years when we tried, despite the chaos of the times, understandably bitter feelings, and ruinous expense, to create a new, democratic Germany, even as our Empire crumbled around us. It may not have been our finest hour - yet, to the infinite benefit of Europe, we really did win the peace. A clear, grand idea mixed with unforgettable new details make this unputdownable. * James Hawes, author of The Shortest History of Germany * An excellent, vivid, readable social history of the British and their Zone in Post-War Germany. * Giles MacDonogh * The British occupation of Germany after 1945 was sometimes shameful, sometimes heroic, but often just chaotic. Cowling's brilliantly researched book reveals it all, and must surely become the standard work on the subject. * Keith Lowe * Meticulously researched and skilfully written, Daniel Cowling's narrative evokes a shattered post-war world in which British men and women were given the herculean task of rebuilding a democratic Germany. As they sought to round-up ex-Nazis, racketeers and corrupt officials, some found themselves drawn to an underworld rife with crime, drunkenness and sex. A ground-breaking account of a little-known period. * Giles Milton, author of Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare *

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