Flight in the Winter : Russia Conquers - January to May, 1945 by Jurgen Thorwald (The conquest of Eastern Germany and Berlin by the Russian Armies, reported mainly in eyewitness accounts.)
New York : Pantheon, 1951. First American edition, first printing. Hardcover. 318 pages ; 22 cm. $3.75 dust jacket with edges wear to jacket. Pictorial gray cover board with red title at spine. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is firm.
FLIGHT IN THE WINTER
Russia Conquers — January to May, 1945
edited and translated by Fred Wieck
In this unique and terrifying book, one of the greatest dramas of contemporary history comes to appalling life: the conquest of Easfern Germany by the Russian armies. For the first time, one of the least reported parts of World War II is brought into a complete and cohesive picture, in which the strategic elements are supplemented by human documents that make shattering reading. The human side of history emerges: in the account of the fall of a village to Russian combat troops; in the letter of a woman to her parents describing the evacuation of Bresfau, her thirty-mile march through snowstorms, and the death of her child en route—as matter-of-fact as only extreme sorrow can make it; in the report of an East Prussian girl's trip over the thinly frozen Kurische Nehrung with the Russians at her heels; in the story of the fall of Danzig and the flight of its people, told by a sixteen-year-old boy; in the letter of a German woman caught behind the Russian front, reporting rapings, forced labor, and deportations; in the diary of a German officer describing the last days of Berlin, the doomsday atmosphere in Hitler's shelter, the street-fighting tactics of the Russians; in the horrible picture of Czechoslovakia's revenge. The period covered leads from January 12, 1945, when the Russian all-out offensive started, to the unconditional surrender.
Juergen Thorwald is a young German journalist who, before the outbreak of World War II, studied history. During the war, he participated in German Navy operations for the rescue of refugees from Eastern Germany. This experience, and the realization that, for political reasons, the story of the conquest of Eastern Germany had never been fully re¬ported, decided him to set out on a one-man search for historical truth. Aside from consulting published memoirs, newspaper reports, pamphlets, official documents, and the like, he Interviewed thousands of participants — active and passive — in the tragedy: military men, officials, and party functionaries, as well as the men, women and children who suffered through and survived the disasters of Spring, 1945. Out of about 2000 documents gathered in this fashion, he endeavored to sift the truth and to throw, for the first time, full light upon events that, for various reasons, had been kept obscure.
The author wishes to state that this is not a book about guilt and innocence, nor an effort to exonerate the German people by exposing misdeeds or blindness on the opposite side. He believes that the Germans sowed the wind that gathered Into a devastating storm. What the author intended was to establish a picture of the truth, in the belief that it will serve the interests of all nations, and that without a proper knowledge of it the problems of Central Europe cannot be adequately understood.
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