Anyone who lived through any war, but especially WWII, needs to read this greatly detailed and informative book that gives details, stories, actions, and facts many of which were never published. The author writes in a way that draws you to each page because, while the book is fact, it never gets boring. From the very beginning of the book where, in April 1934, Hitler met with the German minister of Defence to make a secret pact where the army would support Adolph Hitler upon the death of Paul von Hindenburg (then leader of Germany). Most of us have in our minds that the war started in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland but the plans for Hitler’s demonic plans to control the world had started with the plans for his leadership years earlier.
Several things I advise to all readers of this complete book; remember to refer to the maps at the front of the book as campaigns in different areas occur, and do not think you will skip through a page because the book is extremely long. If you skip you will miss some important and interesting tidbit. I had forgotten the maps and now I wish I had remembered them to allow me to know exactly where certain battles occurred. I also tried to read by skipping and I found out it doesn’t work. How Andrew Roberts garnered all the information and wove it into a terrific resourceful book I will never know. There is no way a review could ever do this book justice. I will hit a few highlights but you must physically read it to gain the knowledge it contains.
Hitler had been a corporal in the German army in WW I so he had felt war first hand and was twenty-nine years of age when that war ended in 1918. Hitler had a huge war machine in place. Two major factions were the OKH and the OKW, both strategic in running the military. Many leaders changed throughout the book. Hitler would have high expectations for various campaigns and when the result was not to his liking he took no remorse in immediately changing generals. Hitler controlled all the many units of might such as the Wehrmacht, the SS, the Luftwaffe (air), the Panzers (tanks), and a naval branch that, had Hitler allow it to develop fully, could have made the war much longer and given Germany a huge advantage. The German Generals, some of whom were Field Marshall’s, were many; Jodl, Keitel, Himmler, von Runstedt, von Manctein, Goebbels, Rommel, and, in general were very brilliant men but too many times Hitler forced them to do his method, not theirs.
One section of the book that was about a subject I thought I did know but the author gave some details that blew my mind of how humans could treat other humans as they did. Excerpts of the authors words; “After they were rounded up in their local communities from all across German-occupied Europe, Jews were transported by train to Auschwitz or one of the other five extermination camps in Eastern Europe.” “Once the transports arrived at the siding at Birkenau, there would be the first selection, where SS officials would choose the able-bodied men and women – numbering roughly 15% – who would be taken to the camp barracks to join work details, leaving the old, the weak, the infirm, the children, and the mothers of children, who would be immediately walked to the gas chambers and exterminated.” This is only a small part of the inhumane things the Germans carried out in order to “cleanse” the world of Jews.
The inhumane actions of war do not lie just with the Germans. Their allies, as well as the allies of the United States, Great Britain, France, and many other nations, performed many actions that killed many innocent civilians. In many cases the Germans surrounded their factories with these civilians making the bombing of the weapon producing buildings also kill those civilians. This, along with civilians being in the wrong place at the wrong time, caused many more killings. Military casualties for all the nations involved were immense. Some of the numbers are unbelievable but also undeniable.
The many battles of WW II were brutal and lasted far too long. So many new recruits were rushed to the front and into battle before they knew what they were getting into. This occurred with all nations involved, not just the Germans. The details of the Russian war involvement are quite extensive. At first they didn’t know whom to fight with, allies or axis, but eventually chose the allies because they, like Germany, wanted to control the world, especially all of Europe. Because Russia is so huge with a large population, they suffered many casualties and had so many more to fill in for those killed.