A knowledgeable survey of a specific point in the eastern front and its ramifications for the Baltic region.




A focused history of an intensely held Prussian city on the eastern front during World War II.

While there are numerous surveys of Hitler’s advance into Russia and the hugely sacrificial Russian push back, there is less known about the devastating effect of the war on the German province of East Prussia. In this solid historical account, English journalist and educator Denny focuses on the capital city of Königsberg. Crowned in the 13th century by the imposing castle built by the Teutonic Knights, the city eventually became the seat of the Brandenburg region, and William I was anointed “King of Prussia in the Castle church in 1861.” A land of lakes and small, self-sustaining farms, East Prussia weathered the adversity of seasons and history, most notably being cut off from the rest of Germany by the creation of the Polish Corridor (including Danzig) after the German defeat in World War I, effectively isolating 1.5 million Germans and some 5,000 Jews. The Nazi Party’s promises to restore West Prussia and Danzig to Germany, get rid of the Polish Corridor, and fight communism resonated with large landowners and radical small-scale farmers of the province, and thus Hitler was overwhelmingly elected. The symbolic power of Königsberg was demonstrated when Hitler came in triumph to speak on the eve of the Reichstag election in 1933 and again after the annexation of Austria in 1938. Denny examines how the Jews were gradually routed out, while the German population remained relatively well cared for during the war, with the arrival of Poles as slave labor. By 1942, Königsberg was used as an assembly point for armed services heading to the eastern front. As German might waned and the Russian invasion was imminent, a huge evacuation of civilians took place from April to May 1945. The city’s surrender to the Soviet Army and the Allied bombing campaigns essentially destroyed the city.

A knowledgeable survey of a specific point in the eastern front and its ramifications for the Baltic region.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1240-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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