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  • Published: 16 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9780753557877
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $35.00


Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich

The internationally bestselling history of German life in the fallout of the Third Reich


A 2021 Book of the Year
The Times * Sunday Times * Telegraph * New Statesman * Financial Times * Irish Independent * Daily Mail

'A masterpiece' SPECTATOR

'Exemplary [and] important... This is the kind of book few writers possess the clarity of vision to write' MAX HASTINGS, SUNDAY TIMES
'Magnificent... There are great lessons in the nature of humanity to be learnt here' TELEGRAPH

Germany, 1945: a country in ruins. Cities have been reduced to rubble and more than half of the population are where they do not belong or do not want to be. How can a functioning society ever emerge from this chaos?

In bombed-out Berlin, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, journalist and member of the Nazi resistance, warms herself by a makeshift stove and records in her diary how a frenzy of expectation and industriousness grips the city. The Americans send Hans Habe, an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and US army soldier, to the frontline of psychological warfare - tasked with establishing a newspaper empire capable of remoulding the minds of the Germans. The philosopher Hannah Arendt returns to the country she fled to find a population gripped by a manic loquaciousness, but faces a deafening wall of silence at the mention of the Holocaust.

Aftermath is a nuanced panorama of a nation undergoing monumental change. 1945 to 1955 was a raw, wild decade poised between two eras that proved decisive for Germany's future - and one starkly different to how most of us imagine it today. Featuring black and white photographs and posters from post-war Germany - some beautiful, some revelatory, some shocking - Aftermath evokes an immersive portrait of a society corrupted, demoralised and freed - all at the same time.

  • Published: 16 June 2021
  • ISBN: 9780753557877
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $35.00

About the author

Harald Jähner

Harald Jähner, is a cultural journalist and former editor of the Berlin Times. He is also an honorary professor of cultural journalism at the Berlin’s University of Arts.

Praise for Aftermath

Rarely has a non-fiction book so skilfully combined vividness, drama and eloquence.

From the Jury's reasoning for the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for Non-Fiction 2019

Jähner's gripping 500-page X-ray-vision tale of an often overlooked and misperceived phase of German history reveals, like all great history books, as much about the first decade after the war as about today.

The German Times

Clearly written, full of empathy for everyday life, which is far too seldom taken into consideration... You devour it like a novel.

Welt am Sonntag

A popular work of non-fiction in the best sense.

Die Zeit

Absolutely extraordinary. Every page stops you dead with insight and revelation.

James Hawes, bestselling author of The Shortest History of Germany

For those who want to understand the Germans, Aftermath is essential reading. An engrossing study on all counts, Jähner's analysis of people's response to the Nazis' monstrous crimes and how perpetrators and victims merged into a new nation is especially compelling. Anyone with even the slightest interest in history and the human condition should read this book.

Julia Boyd, bestselling author of Travellers in the Third Reich

A fascinating account of a forgotten moment in Europe's history, of utter desperation leading to tentative hope.

Simon Jenkins, bestselling author of A Short History of England

Harald Jähner's deeply researched, panoramic account of how Germany rebuilt and discovered itself from 1945-1955 is an eye-opening, thrilling read

Bernhard Schlink, bestselling author of The Reader

A fiercely compelling book that brings vivid illumination to an era of twilight and brutal ruins. Harald Jähner beautifully explores the hinterland of human nature in all its shades

Sinclair McKay, bestselling author of Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness

Magisterial, fascinating, humane - a brilliant book of the greatest importance and achievement

Philippe Sands, bestselling author of East West Street and The Ratline

What does total defeat mean? Germany 1945-55. Ten years of poverty, ruins, fear, violence, black markets, manic hard work, inventive sex - and always, always, silence about the murdered millions of the Third Reich. A fascinating read.

Neil MacGregor, author of Germany: Memories of a Nation

Many consider the years before 1945 to be the most crucial in understanding Germany and the Germans. Wait until you have read this book.

Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich

An extraordinary book of breathtaking scholarship. Jähner shines a light on a dark and almost forgotten period of German history to find it pulsating with life

Jack Fairweather, bestselling author of The Volunteer

Exemplary [and] important... This is the kind of book few writers possess the clarity of vision to write

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Magnificent... There are great lessons in the nature of humanity to be learnt here

Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph

[A] thoughtful narrative... filling the yawning gap on bookshop shelves between a growing number of modern German history texts and the oversupply of Nazi studies that end in Hitler's bunker

Irish Times

A magnificent overview of the astonishing decade in Germany that followed the defeat of Nazism

Daily Telegraph (Best Summer Reading)

Eye-opening and often moving... a sobering look at how societies rebuild

BBC History Magazine

Fascinating... Books about Word War II continue to spill out by the ton, but there has been less attention paid to how Germans coped with the country's shameful Nazi past after the conflict was over

Irish Independent (Summer Reads)

A masterpiece

The Spectator

Aftermath is a transfixing account and subtle analysis. A scrupulous investigation of the past, it reads, constantly, like a prelude to what is still unfolding.

Geoff Dyer, New Statesman (Books of the Year 2021)

Thought-provoking... Jähner's unflinching account is a reminder that historical truths are rarely simple and always nuanced

Daily Mail

Aftermath takes in the immediate postwar years where Germany was administered by the Allies... Jähner excels

Giles MacDonogh, Financial Times

Jähner is masterly in telling the tragic, despicable, comedic and uplifting stories of those who were there as he takes his readers on a fascinating tour through rubble-strewn postwar Germany

Katja Hoyer, The Times

Aftermath captures brilliantly the atmosphere of everyday life in the destroyed cities of divided postwar Germany

Financial Times (Best Books of 2021)

Aftermath is that rare thing, a history book that turns what you knew completely on its head. It is testament to Harald Jähner's achievement that Aftermath is a book that I will never forget

Dominic Sandbrook

This panoramic journey through Germany in the ruins of the Third Reich is unforgettably thought-provoking [and] intensely moving

The Times (21 best history books 2021)

[Jähner] does double duty in this fascinating book, elegantly marshaling a plethora of facts while also using his critical skills to wry effect. Even though Aftermath covers historical ground, its narrative is intimate, filled with first-person accounts

Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

I thought I knew the essential story of Germany's immediate post-war years. This book brilliantly adds to, indeed changes, my understanding. One of the best historians and authors of contemporary Germany, Jähner paints an absorbing, human and surprising picture

John Kampfner, bestselling author of Why the Germans Do it Better

Subtle, perceptive and beautifully written

Wall Street Journal

A reminder that the German experience will always stand apart


Highly readable... Counter-intuitive but thoughtful

Peter Fritzsche, New York Times

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