Swansong 1945: A Collective Diary of the Last Days of the Third Reich

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Product Details

W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.4 X 9.1 X 1.9 inches | 1.9 pounds

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About the Author

Walter Kempowski (1929-2007) was one of Germany's most important postwar writers. In the 1980s he began gathering diaries, letters, and memoirs of World War II, which he edited into ten volumes published in German. Swansong 1945 is the first portion to appear in English.
Shaun Whiteside is a Northern Irish translator of French, Dutch, German, and Italian literature. He has translated many novels, including Manituana(Verso, 2010) and Altai(Verso, 2013) by Wu Ming, The Weekend(Pantheon, 2010) by Bernhard Schlink, and Magdalene the Sinner(Harper, 1997) by Lilian Faschinger, which won him the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for German Translation in 1997.


A disturbing but compulsively readable slice of history.
This is a book that can be read comfortably only page by page. Otherwise it will break your heart.--Bill Marvel
A remarkable collage of experiences and impressions of the catastrophic last days of the Second World War, which provides a unique panorama of the war and a very powerful impression of its impact on and the responses of those involved.--Jeremy Noakes, author of Nazism 1919-1945
A unique and haunting insight into what it was like to live through the violent twilight of the Third Reich. Indispensable and, above all, unforgettable.--Frederick Taylor, author of Dresden
A bewitching, dramatic, utterly extraordinary range of voices and eyewitness testimony as Europe entered its year-zero moment.--David Kynaston, author of Austerity Britain
An emotionally immediate and multi-faceted perspective of the last days of the Third Reich... No mere anthology but an artful collage... Difficult to put down.--Gerald Steinacher
From the absurd to the sublime, and everywhere heartbreaking: a collage of voices from the tail end of the world's conflagration.... Raw [and] tremendously moving... Riveting.
Riveting... Kempowski's careful selection and sequencing convey the horror, misery, irony, and intensity of living through the last month of war in Germany. The work is noteworthy not just for its unique first-person perspective, but also for its breadth and depth... Essential.
A rare combination of aesthetic and historic truths... What gives Kempowski's work its reach and humanity is his keen eye for both the sensory experience of war at its most destructive and individuals' compulsion to go on making sense of it as it engulfed them.--Nicholas Stargardt, author of Witnesses of War
Amidst the fascinating multitude of voices assembled here the one that speaks most powerfully is that of Kempowski himself. This is a remarkable document of one person's lifelong struggle to make sense of national collapse.--Neil Gregor, author of Haunted City
Kempowski is a master of form and proportion... The end of the war has never before been depicted like this.--Volker Hage, author of Hamburg 1943