Rommel, Erwin. The Rommel Papers (Da Capo Press,1982).
When Erwin Rommel died by forced suicide at Hitler’s command he left behind in various ingenious hiding places the papers that recorded the story of his dramatic career and the exact details of his masterly campaigns. It was his custom to dictate each evening a running narrative of the days events and, after each battle, to summarize its course and the lessons to be learned from it. He wrote, almost daily, intimate and outspoken letters to his wife in which his private feelings and after the tide had turned forebodings found expression. To this is added by Rommels son Manfred the story of the Field Marshall’s last weeks and the final day when he was given the choice of an honorable suicide or an ignominious trial for treason. An engrossing human document and a rare look at the mind of the Desert Fox, The Rommel Papers throws an interesting light on the Axis alliance and on the inner workings of Hitler’s high command.
Rose, Paul Lawrence. Heisenberg and the Nazi Atomic Bomb Project (University of California Press, New edition, 2001).
No one better represents the plight and the conduct of German intellectuals under Hitler than Werner Heisenberg, whose task it was to build an atomic bomb for Nazi Germany. The controversy surrounding Heisenberg still rages, because of the nature of his work and the regime for which it was undertaken. What precisely did Heisenberg know about the physics of the atomic bomb? How deep was his loyalty to the German government during the Third Reich? Assuming that he had been able to build a bomb, would he have been willing? These questions, the moral and the scientific, are answered by Paul Lawrence Rose with greater accuracy and breadth of documentation than any other historian has yet achieved.
Digging deep into the archival record among formerly secret technical reports, Rose establishes that Heisenberg never overcame certain misconceptions about nuclear fission, and as a result the German leaders never pushed for atomic weapons. In fact, Heisenberg never had to face the moral problem of whether he should design a bomb for the Nazi regime. Only when he and his colleagues were interned in England and heard about Hiroshima did Heisenberg realize that his calculations were wrong. He began at once to construct an image of himself as a "pure" scientist who could have built a bomb but chose to work on reactor design instead. This was fiction, as Rose demonstrates: in reality, Heisenberg blindly supported and justified the cause of German victory. The question of why he did, and why he misrepresented himself afterwards, is answered through Rose's subtle analysis of German mentality and the scientists' problems of delusion and self-delusion. This fascinating study is a profound effort to understand one of the twentieth century's great enigmas.
Roseman, Mark. The Wansee Conference (Metropolitan Books, 2002).
In early 1947, American officials in Germany stumbled across a document. Entitled "Secret Reich matter," it summarized the results of a meeting of top Nazi officials that took place on January 20, 1942, in a grand villa on the shore of Berlin's Lake Wannsee.
On one level, this document offered clarity: known as the Wannsee Protocol (and included here in full), it tallied up the Jews in Europe, carefully classified half and quarter Jews, and above all laid the groundwork for a "final solution to the Jewish Question." Yet the Protocol, among the most shameful documents in history, remains deeply mysterious. How can we understand this businesslike discussion of genocide? And why was the meeting necessary? Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been shot in Russia or gassed in the camp at Chelmno. Test murders had been carried out in Auschwitz. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the Wannsee Conference, is that we do not know why it took place.
Rosenbaum, Ron. Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (Harper Perennial, 1999).
When Hitler's war ended in 1945, the war over Hitler—who he really was, what gave birth to his unique evil—had just begun. Hitler did not escape the bunker in Berlin but, half a century later, he has managed to escape explanation in ways both frightening and profound. Explaining Hitler is an extraordinary quest, an expedition into the war zone of Hitler theories. This is a passionate, enthralling book that illuminates what Hitler explainers tell us about Hitler, about the explainers, and about ourselves.
Rubenstein, Joshua and Ilya Altman. The Unknown Black Book: The Holocaust in the German-Occupied Soviet Territories (Indiana University Press, 2007).
The Unknown Black Book provides, for the first time in English, a revelatory compilation of testimonies from Jews who survived open-air massacres and other atrocities carried out by the Germans and their allies in the occupied Soviet territories during World War II. These documents, from residents of cities, small towns, and rural areas, are first-hand accounts by survivors of work camps, ghettos, forced marches, beatings, starvation, and disease. Collected under the direction of two renowned Soviet Jewish journalists, Vasily Grossman and Ilya Ehrenburg, they tell of Jews who lived in pits, walled-off corners of apartments, attics, and basement dugouts, unable to emerge due to fear that their neighbors would betray them, which often occurred.
Ryan, Cornelius. The Last Battle (Simon & Schuster, Republished, 1995).
The Battle for Berlin was the culminating struggle of World War II in the European theater, the last offensive against Hitler's Third Reich, which devastated one of Europe's historic capitals and marked the final defeat of Nazi Germany. It was also one of the war's bloodiest and most pivotal battles, whose outcome would shape international politics for decades to come.
The Last Battle is Cornelius Ryan's compelling account of this final battle, a story of brutal extremes, of stunning military triumph alongside the stark conditions that the civilians of Berlin experienced in the face of the Allied assault. As always, Ryan delves beneath the military and political forces that were dictating events to explore the more immediate imperatives of survival, where, as the author describes it, "to eat had become more important than to love, to burrow more dignified than to fight, to exist more militarily correct than to win." The Last Battle is the story of ordinary people, both soldiers and civilians, caught up in the despair, frustration, and terror of defeat. It is history at its best, a masterful illumination of the effects of war on the lives of individuals, and one of the enduring works on World War II.
Ryan, Cornelius. A Bridge Too Far (Simon & Schuster, Republished, 1995).
A Bridge Too Far is Cornelius Ryan's masterly chronicle of the Battle of Arnhem, which marshalled the greatest armada of troop-carrying aircraft ever assembled and cost the Allies nearly twice as many casualties as D-Day. In this compelling work of history, Ryan narrates the Allied effort to end the war in Europe in 1944 by dropping the combined airborne forces of the American and British armies behind German lines to capture the crucial bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem. Focusing on a vast cast of characters—from Dutch civilians to British and American strategists to common soldiers and commanders –Ryan brings to life one of the most daring and ill-fated operations of the war. A Bridge Too Far superbly recreates the terror and suspense, the heroism and tragedy of this epic operation, which ended in bitter defeat for the Allies.
Ryan, Cornelius. The Longest Day (Simon & Schuster, Republished, 1994).
The Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan's unsurpassed account of D-Day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history. In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.