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Under the Bombs: The German Home Front, 1942-1945

Earl R. Beck
Copyright Date: 1986
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Under the Bombs
    Book Description:

    Under the Bombs tells the story of the civilian population of German cities devastated by Allied bombing in World War II. These people went to work, tried to keep a home (though in many cases it was just a pile of rubble where a house once stood), and attempted to live life as normally as possible amid the chaos of war. Earl Beck also looks at the food and fuel rationing the German people endured and the problems of trying to make a public complaint while living in a totalitarian state.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4369-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. 1. The End of Optimism: January-August 1942
    (pp. 1-17)

    It was a warm Saturday evening in May in the great industrial city of Cologne. The people, as they strolled home, looked forward to a pleasant Sunday outside. The year was 1942. Germany was now well into its third year of war. There had been air raids before. Cologne itself had suffered a mild attack in February and a more severe one in April. But the midnight sirens on this late spring night called the city’s inhabitants to something new and more dreadful. The thoughts of a pleasant Sunday in the green environs of the city were to be bitterly...

  5. 2. The Last (Somewhat) Merry Christmas: August-December 1942
    (pp. 18-32)

    By 1942, the words “merry Christmas” had lost much of their meaning in Germany. How could one be “merry” with the threat of bombing over one’s head; with the news from the eastern front being dark and murky, portending difficulties which the army did not want to report; with increasing shortages of everyday articles and a homeland changing its appearance as thousands of people left the cities for a safer refuge in the countryside? Those at home could no longer find optimism in the forward push of their armies in Russiait was clear that the German forces were meeting more...

  6. 3. Stalingrad and All-Out Warfare: January-April 1943
    (pp. 33-56)

    On February 2, 1943, the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad laid down its arms. After fighting and losing over half its personnel in the desperate effort to retain this farthest point of German advance into the seemingly endless reaches of the Soviet Union, 91,000 survivors fell into the hands of the Russians. Included in those who became prisoners were Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, General Walter von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, who commanded the German Fifty-first Corps and might have been Paulus’s successor if Paulus had gone into German headquarters, and twenty-two other generals. Only five thousand of those captured survived the war.


  7. 4. Bombing Achieves Holocaust: May-August 1943
    (pp. 57-82)

    The four months from May through August of 1943 were marked by a series of major setbacks for Germany’s war efforts both at home and on the battle fronts. They began on May 12 and 13 as the German armies in North Africa surrendered to the British. The radio report from the famed and once victorious Africa Corps read: “Munition exhausted. Weapons and war materials destroyed. The German Africa Corps has fought as ordered until it is no longer capable of fighting. The German Africa Corps must be born again! Heia Safari!”¹

    The “desert fox,” Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, had...

  8. 5. A Joyless Victory: September-December 1943
    (pp. 83-105)

    The fall and early winter of 1943 were marked by unusually cold weather. The cold of the weather was matched by the chill affecting German morale in this period. Before the year was out, the chill of the weather forced a cutback in the most vital part of German food rations-potatoes. This brought a further decline of the morale, which had already fallen with the desertion of Germany by its closest ally, Fascist Italy, and the continuance of the heavy bombing of its cities, accompanied by an increasing appearance of U.S. Flying Fortresses traversing the German skies in broad daylight....

  9. 6. Life Goes On: January-April 1944
    (pp. 106-128)

    On January 1, 1944, Hitler’s customary New Year’s greeting to the German people repeated much of what he had said at the party’s meeting in Munich in November. Again there was the reference to the loss of homes, public buildings, and cultural monuments and of the lives of women and children who perished in the bombings (in that order). Again there was the promise of the rapid rebuilding of the cities after the war. Only through victory, he emphasized, could those who had suffered losses hope to have them made good. 1944, he said, would bring great demands for all...

  10. 7. The Bombs Still Fall: May-September 1944
    (pp. 129-150)

    During the spring months of 1944, the Germans at home became increasingly aware that an invasion of Europe by the Western Allies was imminent. German civilians talked of potential naval attacks on northern Germany or airborne assaults on Germany proper as well as the more probable assault on the coast of France or Belgium. Strangely enough, there was a note of hopeful expectation in the discussions of the coming invasion. Morale reports reflected the optimistic belief that the invasion would signal a decisive turn in the course of the war in favor of Germany.

    Whether all of this optimism was...

  11. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  12. 8. Germany’s Darkest Winter: September-December 1944
    (pp. 151-171)

    September 1944 marked the beginning of Germany’s sixth year at war. A deep sense of gloom lay across the country. No longer was there any relief from the hardships of overly strenuous work, the fear of the next bombing raid, the struggle to keep outworn clothing wearable, the worries about the steadily approaching enemy forces from the east and the west, and the apprehension of danger from the hordes of enemy workers and prisoners of war cramped within the shrinking frontiers. And in the midst of all this, there was the dread that a thoughtless word of pessimism might bring...

  13. 9. The End Comes—With Death and Terror: January-May 1945
    (pp. 172-197)

    Germany had suffered grievously in the years before 1945. The hail of bombs had taken a heavy toll on its cities. Buildings, homes, and people had shared the consequences of an unparalleled destruction. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers had lost their lives in Hitler’s ill-managed campaigns. Millions of people at home had suffered from privation, homesickness, and unhappiness in unfamiliar places of refuge as well as from the tangible fears of the raids and the vague dread of an uncertain future.

    But these trials and privations faded into insignificance before the horrors of the closing months of World War II....

  14. Postscript: Forty Years Later—In Retrospect
    (pp. 198-200)

    The travail of the Germans was not over with the end of the fighting. Those who had “survived” confronted new trials. Many who had trekked across snow and ice faced the permanent loss of homes in the territory beyond the eastern boundary at the Oder-Western Neisse line. Those who had once appropriated land belonging to the Poles found territory they had considered German in the possession of the Poles. Inside the Oder-Neisse boundary, a third of the remaining territory was governed by German Communists under the direction of the Soviet Union. In that area, one harsh dictatorship had been replaced...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 201-230)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-240)
  17. Index
    (pp. 241-253)