When the Russians armies drove into Germany from the east, they raped and pillaged and murdered as revenge for Germany’s barbaric treatment of the Russians back in 1941. While the
Allies entering Germany from the west were somewhat less brutal, they posed no pretense in trying to disguise the fact that they were conquering armies, not liberators
- an attitude handed down by General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The French, particularly in the
southwestern zone of Germany, an area they would occupy after the war, were also fearsome in their encounters with the Germans.
The German population were treated like animals; the German infrastructure was virtually completely destroyed; even the production of food came to an almost complete halt. The Germans had sentenced themselves to a helpless nightmare. This horrible day-to-day struggle for existence made the Germans feel like they were the victims of WWII. They seemed to forget the massive pain and brutality they
had inflicted on the entire European continent and throughout Russia. The Germans couldn't quite remember that they had blindly followed Hitler and the Nazis up until the very end and only started to shift their support when the Russians were knocking at their door.
This is the situation the author discusses in Germany 1945. Bessel tries to send a message of never forgive/never forget in terms of what the Germans did to deserve this retribution,
but he tends to shift his sympathy too far in defending them and almost offers sympathy at various points in his tale.
He describes all the shortages: food, medicine, education, transportation, and lack of housing (bombing raids destroyed most buildings and the Allies occupied the remaining structures). Indeed, what the Germans faced was an ongoing horror, but compared to what the Germans did to the rest of Europe and Russia, it pales in comparison.
The author has a habit of relating facts multiple times and his redundancy makes this a difficult book to wade through. He makes a point and then repeats it as if he were trying to convince himself
- or maybe he simply needed to stretch the amount of information he had at hand.