Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945–1955

Knopf. Jan. 2022. 416p. ISBN 9780593319734. $30. HIST
How does a nation recover from a decade of totalitarian dictatorship, devastating military conflict and defeat, a broken infrastructure and economy, destroyed cities and towns, and a dispersed and starving population? In the aftermath of World War II, Germany lay in ruins, teetering on the edge of chaos. While the immediate post-war years were difficult for the Germans who survived, it was also in this environment that a strong civil society, a powerhouse global economy, and a way to come to psychological terms with Hitlerism and the Holocaust came into being. In a fascinating and critical look at the period book-ended by World War II and the Cold War, German journalist Jähner effectively combines known and unfamiliar information about significant and ordinary events and people of the day with insightful discussions of contemporaneous art, literature, film, architecture, and film. Deeply researched while at the same time eminently readable, this book successfully presents an engrossing social, political, economic, and cultural perspective on an important era that is often overlooked in traditional history texts.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers of modern European political and cultural history, especially those with little knowledge of the period.
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