A personal account of the Second World War by a White Russian princess who lived in Berlin and Vienna with insights into the ever-harsher conditions of civilian life and the ethical dilemma of upper-class anti-Nazis
The author became sickened by the brutal and repressive nature of Nazi rule which overshadowed every aspect of her life. She became involved in the Resistance and the diaries vividly describe her part in the drama and its aftermath.
“This is not a book I will forget any time soon.” ―Story Circle Book Reviews Moving and provocative, Api’s Berlin Diaries offers a personal perspective on the fall of Berlin 1945 and the far-reaching aftershocks of the Third Reich. After her mother’s death, Robinson was thrilled to find her beloved grandfather’s war diaries—only to discover that he had been a Nazi. The award-winning memoir shows Api, a doctor in Berlin, desperately trying to help the wounded in cellars without water or light. He himself was reduced to anxiety and despair, the daily diary his main refuge. As Robinson retraces Api’s steps half a century later, she tries to come up with answers to why he joined the Nazi party while also remembering the happiest years of her childhood with him. For readers of today this moving memoir provides a timely reminder that we all need to reckon with our countries’ pasts. “This is a must read for anyone interested in the German experience during WWII..” —Ariana Neumann, author of When Time Stopped
In the political history of the past century, no city has played a more prominent-though often disastrous-role than Berlin. At the same time, Berlin has also been a dynamic center of artistic and intellectual innovation. If Paris was the "Capital of the Nineteenth Century," Berlin was to become the signature city for the next hundred years. Once a symbol of modernity, in the Thirties it became associated with injustice and the abuse of power. After 1945, it became the iconic City of the Cold War. Since the fall of the Wall, Berlin has again come to represent humanity's aspirations for a new beginning, tempered by caution deriving from the traumas of the recent past. David Clay Large's definitive history of Berlin is framed by the two German unifications of 1871 and 1990. Between these two events several themes run like a thread through the city's history: a persistent inferiority complex; a distrust among many ordinary Germans, and the national leadership of the "unloved city's" electric atmosphere, fast tempo, and tradition of unruliness; its status as a magnet for immigrants, artists, intellectuals, and the young; the opening up of social, economic, and ethnic divisions as sharp as the one created by the Wall.
The part played by the many German and Austrian royal families in opposing Hitler has hitherto been overlooked. Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia was deeply involved in the German resistance movement and was questioned by the Gestapo following the 20 July plot on Hitler’s life; Otto von Habsburg, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was sentenced to death and escaped through Europe to America, where he helped coordinate attempts to liberate his homeland; his Hohenberg cousins (children of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand) were incarcerated in Dachau; Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria was exiled to Italy where he was pursued by the SS – his wife and children were captured and sent to concentration camps; the exiled Prince Hubertus zu Löwenstein travelled between the USA and Britain assembling German exiles into groups representing the real Germany – that could assume power when Hitler was defeated. The sweeping away of German and Austrian monarchs in 1918 made the rise of Hitler possible; their successors helped make possible his defeat.
Swansong 1945 chronicles four significant days in the last three weeks of WWII: 20 April, Hitler's last birthday; 25 April, when American and Soviet troops first met at the Elbe; 30 April, the day Hitler committed suicide; and 8 May, the day of the German surrender. Side by side in these pages, we encounter the voices of civilians fleeing on foot to the west, British and American POWs dreaming of home, concentration camp survivors, loyal soldiers from both sides of the conflict and national leaders including Churchill, Hitler and Mussolini. A monumental account of survival, suffering, hope and despair, Swansong 1945 brings vividly to life a conflict whose repercussions are felt today.