Soldiers, Civilians, and the Death of the Third Reich
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
At the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, fearing that retreating Germans would consolidate large numbers of troops in an Alpine stronghold and from there conduct a protracted guerilla war, turned U.S. forces toward the heart of Franconia, ordering them to cut off and destroy German units before they could reach the Alps. Opposing this advance was a conglomeration of German forces headed by SS-Gruppenführer Max Simon, a committed National Socialist who advocated merciless resistance. Under the direction of officers schooled in harsh combat in Russia, the Germans succeeded in bringing the American advance to a grinding halt.
Caught in the middle were the people of Franconia. Historians have accorded little mention to this period of violence and terror, but it provides insight into the chaotic nature of life while the Nazi regime was crumbling. Neither German civilians nor foreign refugees acted simply as passive victims caught between two fronts. Throughout the region people pressured local authorities to end the senseless resistance and sought revenge for their tribulations in the "liberation" that followed.
Stephen G. Fritz examines the predicament and outlook of American GI's, German soldiers and officials, and the civilian population caught in the arduous fighting during the waning days of World War II. Endkampf is a gripping portrait of the collapse of a society and how it affected those involved, whether they were soldiers or civilians, victors or vanquished, perpetrators or victims.
"Fritz has found a way of taking further what in some other historians' hands might have been a conventional and limited study, and showing how it can enrich our understanding of Germany's defeat and its aftermath. This study suggests a new way of viewing both the military and nonmilitary experience of the end of World War." -- American Historical Review
"This comprehensively researched book addresses a subject so timely that, were it not for the detailed research supporting his work, Fritz might be assumed to have written in the aftermath of the recent conquest and occupation of Iraq." -- Dennis Showalter, History Book Club
"Engrossing.... A substantial work of historical scholarship." -- International History Review
"Chillingly narrates the last desperate days of Nazi Germany, illustrating the terror and destruction of the last weeks of World War II." -- Jerry Cooper
"Convincingly challenges the accepted view that after the Allies crossed the Rhine in March 1945 the German army rapidly disintegrated and the war quickly wound down.... Pleasurable to read and definitely informative." -- Military Review
"This thoroughly researched and superbly written study illuminates the impact of Nazism on German resistance in the little known campaign in Franconia." -- WWII History