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The collapse of the Third Reich in 1945 was an event nearly unprecedented in history. Only the fall of the Roman Empire fifteen hundred years earlier compares to the destruction visited on Germany. The country's cities lay in ruins, its economic base devastated. The German people stood at the brink of starvation, millions of them still in POW camps. This was the starting point as the Allies set out to build a humane, democratic nation on the ruins of the vanquished Nazi state-arguably the most monstrous regime the world has ever seen. In Exorcising Hitler, master historian Frederick Taylor tells the story of Germany's Year Zero and what came next. He describes the bitter endgame of war, the murderous Nazi resistance, the vast displacement of people in Central and Eastern Europe, and the nascent cold war struggle between Soviet and Western occupiers. The occupation was a tale of rivalries, cynical realpolitik, and blunders, but also of heroism, ingenuity, and determination-not least that of the German people, who shook off the nightmare of Nazism and rebuilt their battered country. Weaving together accounts of occupiers and Germans, high and low alike Exorcising Hitler is a tour de force of both scholarship and storytelling, the first comprehensive account of this critical episode in modern history.
During the Third Reich, in the name of national security, the Nazis introduced legislation to quickly and easily mark residents with Jewish heritage to expedite their isolation, deportation, and final extermination. Then as now, the tool used for this lethal demarcation was as innocuous as it was ubiquitous: personal names.
• Four months pregnant, Vera Wohlauf, wife of a serving SS officer, took sadistic pleasure in rounding up victims for Treblinka. • Like creatures from a Grimms' fairytale, female members of a Nazi 'welfare' organization scoured the towns and villages of Poland and Slovenia, luring blond children out of hiding with bread and sweets. They were abducted to be raised as Germans by 'Aryan' families who told them their parents were dead. • Test pilot Hanna Reitsch flew on a suicide mission to rescue Hitler from his bunker. • Not even Hitler could resist the charms of Princess Stephanie, a femme fatale and Nazi agent who smoked cigars which she lit by striking a match on the heel of her shoes. The Nazis had no doubts about a woman's place in the Third Reich. Hermann Goering urged every woman to 'take a pot, a dustpan and brush, and marry a man.' Many women welcomed the arrival of Hitler's regime with childlike enthusiasm believing that the dictatorship would make Germany master of Europe, but as the war dragged on, their blind faith in Hitler was betrayed.
The Papacy in the Age of Totalitarianism, 1914-1958 examines the most momentous years in papal history. Popes Benedict XV (1914-1922), Pius XI (1922-1939), and Pius XII (1939-1958) faced the challenges of two world wars and the Cold War, and threats posed by totalitarian dictatorships like Italian Fascism, German National Socialism, and Communism in Russia and China. The wars imposed enormous strains upon the unity of Catholics and the hostility of the totalitarian regimes to Catholicism lead to the Church facing persecution and martyrdom on a scale similar to that experienced under the Roman Empire and following the French Revolution. At the same time, these were years of growth, development, and success for the papacy. Benedict healed the wounds left by the 'modernist' witch hunt of his predecessor and re-established the papacy as an influence in international affairs through his peace diplomacy during the First World War. Pius XI resolved the 'Roman Question' with Italy and put papal finances on a sounder footing. He also helped reconcile the Catholic Church and science by establishing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and took the first steps to move the Church away from entrenched anti-Semitism. Pius XI continued his predecessor's policy of the 'indigenisation' of the missionary churches in preparation for de-colonisation. Pius XII fully embraced the media and other means of publicity, and with his infallible promulgation of the Assumption in 1950, he took papal absolutism and centralism to such heights that he has been called the 'last real pope'. Ironically, he also prepared the way for the Second Vatican Council.
Seventy years have passed since the tortured inmates of Hitler’s concentration and extermination camps were liberated. When the horror of the atrocities came fully to light, it was easy for others to imagine the joyful relief of freed prisoners. Yet for those who had survived the unimaginable, the experience of liberation was a slow, grueling journey back to life. In this unprecedented inquiry into the days, months, and years following the arrival of Allied forces at the Nazi camps, a foremost historian of the Holocaust draws on archival sources and especially on eyewitness testimonies to reveal the complex challenges liberated victims faced and the daunting tasks their liberators undertook to help them reclaim their shattered lives. Historian Dan Stone focuses on the survivors—their feelings of guilt, exhaustion, fear, shame for having survived, and devastating grief for lost family members; their immense medical problems; and their later demands to be released from Displaced Persons camps and resettled in countries of their own choosing. Stone also tracks the efforts of British, American, Canadian, and Russian liberators as they contended with survivors’ immediate needs, then grappled with longer-term issues that shaped the postwar world and ushered in the first chill of the Cold War years ahead.
With the end of the Second World War, a new world was born. The peace agreements that brought the conflict to an end implemented decisions that not only shaped the second half of the twentieth century, but continue to affect our world today and impact on its future. In 1946 the Cold War began, the state of Israel was conceived, the independence of India was all but confirmed and Chinese Communists gained a decisive upper hand in their fight for power. It was a pivotal year in modern history in which countries were reborn and created, national and ideological boundaries were redrawn and people across the globe began to rebuild their lives. In this remarkable history, the foreign correspondent and historian Victor Sebestyen draws on contemporary documents from around the world - including Stalin's personal notes from the Potsdam peace conference - to examine what lay behind the political decision-making. Sebestyen uses a vast array of archival material and personal testimonies to explore how the lives of generations of people across continents were shaped by the events of 1946. Taking readers from Berlin to London, from Paris to Moscow, from Washington to Jerusalem and from Delhi to Shanghai, this is a vivid and wide-ranging account of both powerbrokers and ordinary men and women from an acclaimed author.
At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: communism. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete. Applebaum describes in devastating detail how political parties, the church, the media, young people's organizations - the institutions of civil society on every level - were quickly eviscerated. She explains how the secret police services were organized, how the media came to be dominated by communists, and how all forms of opposition were undermined and destroyed. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists' tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the choices people had to make - to fight, to flee, or to collaborate. Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinized. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal period and a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies can be. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilization, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Anne Applebaum captures in the pages of this exceptional work of historical and moral reckoning.

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