Read After the Reich Online

Authors: Giles MacDonogh

After the Reich

Table of Contents



Title Page






PART I - Chaos

Chapter 1 - The Fall of Vienna

Chapter 2 - Wild Times: A Picture of Liberated Central Europe in 1945

Liberation from the East
Liberation from the West
Disputed Areas
Illustrious Bones

Chapter 3 - Berlin

The Soviets in the Saddle
The Arrival of the Western Allies
The Honeymoon is Over
Autumn 1945
Spring 1946

Chapter 4 - Expulsions from Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia

Beneš’s Return
Brno Death March
Iglau and Kladno
The American Zone
Freudenthal, Freiwaldau and Bilin
Brüx, Saaz, Komotau, Aussig and Tetschen

Chapter 5 - Home to the Reich! Recovered Territories in the Prussian East

Country Life
Working for the Poles
Rural Silesia
Transit Camps
Home to the Reich


PART II - Allied Zones

Chapter 6 - Life in the Russian Zone


Chapter 7 - Life in the American Zone

Political Life

Chapter 8 - Life in the British Zone

British Military Government
The Beginnings of West Germany in the British Zone

Chapter 9 - Life in the French Zone


Chapter 10 - Austria’s Zones and Sectors

Feeding the Austrians
German Assets
Soviet Zone
British Zone
Cossacks and Domobranci
American Zone
French Zone

Chapter 11 - Life in All Four Zones

The Press
Attitudes to 20 July
Jews in Germany and Austria
The Fate of Jewish DPs


PART III - Crime and Punishment

Chapter 12 - Guilt

How Could We Have Known?
Re-education through Propaganda
The Fragebogen and Denazification
Nazis in the Austrian Woodwork
Punishment by Starvation

Chapter 13 - Black Market

Cigarettes and CARE Packets

Chapter 14 - Light Fingers

Chapter 15 - Where are our Men?

The Status of German POWs
The American Camps
British Camps
The Treatment of the Cossacks and Russian Civilians in Germany
The French Camps
The Russian Camps.
Prisons in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Yugoslavia
The Return of the Warrior

Chapter 16 - The Trials

Prison Walls
The Trials

Chapter 17 - The Little Fish

Lesser Nuremberg Trials
The Germans Begin to Prosecute Nazis


PART IV - The Road to Freedom

Chapter 18 - Peacemaking in Potsdam

First Contacts between East and West

Chapter 19 - The Great Freeze

The New Ideologists
The South Tyrol
The Russians Come into the Cold
The Great Freeze
A Thaw in the Weather
Nacht und Nebel
A Solution in the East

Chapter 20 - The Berlin Airlift and the Beginnings of Economic Recovery

Currency Reform
Crisis in Berlin
The Federal Republic




Further Reading


Copyright Page


In After the Reich
, Giles MacDonogh, a British author of several books about German history, chronicles the final weeks of the war and the occupation that followed. His ambitious mission: to offer a comprehensive, unsparing account of what happened to the German people when the tables were turned. MacDonogh works to assemble a massive indictment of the victors, and his array of detail and individual stories is both impressive and exhausting.”

—Washington Post Book World


“In his meticulously researched book
After the Reich
, British-born Giles MacDonogh, an expert in German history, offers a different view of this ‘noble’ war’s aftermath. With unsparing detail and ample documentation, he chronicles the events after the victory in Europe in May 1945 to the Berlin airlift four years later, and exposes the slippery slope of the moral high ground many of us believed the Allies possessed during those years. . . . One cannot read
After the Reich
without thinking of the phrase ‘winning the war but losing the peace’ as the book draws a line from the occupation directly to the division of Berlin and the Cold War that gripped much of the world and informed foreign relations for the next 60 years. Scars across Europe from the post-World War II era remain, and MacDonogh has picked the scab at a time of modern war and occupation when, perhaps, the world most needs to examine an old wound.”

—Boston Globe


“VE Day on May 8, 1945 mocked the subsequent condition of Europe. As crowds in London, Paris, and New York celebrated the declaration of peace, much more misery and death lay ahead. Two, perhaps three million Germans perished in the years that followed: in captivity; from hunger and casual violence; and above all, during the expulsions of ethnic Germans from the east, [on] which the western Allies had agreed with the Russians before hostilities ended. Giles MacDonogh’s book chronicles this saga from the liberation of Vienna to the 1948 Berlin airlift and 1949 formation of Konrad Adenauer’s government in Bonn. It makes grimmer reading than most war stories, because there is little redemptive courage or virtue. Here is a catalogue of pillage, rape, starvation, inhumanity, and suffering on a titanic scale. . . . The book brings together many stories that deserve to be much better known in the West.”

Sunday Times


“Giles MacDonogh’s
After the Reich
is important and timely. He has a profound understanding of Germany, which he communicates in a humane and engaging style. Though he is sensitive to the sufferings of the Germans after the war, he never loses sight of the fact that this was an occupation that the Western powers got right.
After the Reich
is a remarkable book, with a rich cast of characters, and it has oblique relevance to our own problems in the wider world.”

The Third Reich: A New History and Sacred Causes


“Mr. MacDonogh has given readers the history of an era all too often ignored.”

Contemporary Review


“The bitter experiences of a defeated Germany have often been forgotten. MacDonogh’s book, drawing heavily on the often moving testimony of those who lived through them, brings them brilliantly into the light.”

Sunday Times


“Unique and important.”



“Mass deportations, murder, and brutalization of helpless noncombatants—these are the crimes one readily associates with Hitler’s minions as they ravaged their way across Europe. But MacDonogh, a journalist with particular expertise in German history, convincingly illustrates that this was the fate of millions of German-speaking civilians in the period from the fall of Vienna to the Soviets to the Berlin airlift. . . . Given the horrors visited upon Europe by the Nazis, one might be tempted to consider these atrocities as just retribution. However, MacDonogh’s eloquent account of the suffering of these people is, one hopes, able to evoke strong feelings of both revulsion and compassion from most readers.”

ALA Booklist


“This absorbing study of the Allied occupation of Germany and Austria from 1945 to 1949 shows that the end of WWII by no means ended the suffering. A vengeful Red Army visited on German women an ordeal of mass rape, while looting the Soviet occupation zone of almost everything of value. . . . The result is a sobering view of how vengeance stained Allied victory.”

Publishers Weekly


“Throughout time it has been the victor who has written history, but here historian MacDonogh examines the darker side of the Allied occupation of defeated Germany. . . . Of interest to students of modern Europe, complementing W. G. Sebald’s
On the Natural History of Destruction
(2003) and other studies of history from the point of view of the vanquished.”

Kirkus Reviews

For Joseph Maximilian Cornelius MacDonogh
born 8 December 2002



Absumet heres Caecuba dignior
servata centum clavibus et mero
tinget pavimentum superbo,
pontificum potiore cenis.

The author and publishers would like to thank the following for permission to reproduce illustrations: Plates 1, 2, 8, 21, 22 and 29, Herder-Institut Marburg, Bildarchiv; 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 15, Sudetendeutsches Archiv; 11, 12, 13 and 14, Oberhausmuseum, Passau; 19, Sebastian Cody; 23, 24 and 26, Private Collection; 25, Provost and Fellows of Eton College; 27, Bob McCreery; 28, Dennis Sewell; 29, Volkswagen AG; 30, akg-images/Tony Vaccaro. Plates 9 and 10 are from the author’s collection; plates 16, 17 and 18 are taken from Josef Schöner,
Wiener Tagebuch 1944/1945
, edited by Eva-Marie Csáky, Franz Matscher and Gerald Stourzh, and reproduced with permission. Every effort has been made to clear permissions. If permission has not been granted please contact the publisher who will include a credit in subsequent printings and editions.


This book is about the experience of the Germans in defeat. It is about the occupation imposed on them following the criminal campaigns of Adolf Hitler. To some extent it is a study in resignation, their acceptance of any form of indignity in the knowledge of the great wrongs perpetrated by the National Socialist state. Not all of these Germans were involved in these crimes, by any means, but with few exceptions they recognised that their suffering was an inevitable result of them. I make no excuses for the crimes the Nazis committed, nor do I doubt for one moment the terrible desire for revenge that they aroused.

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