Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich, 1945-1955
The internationally bestselling and prize-winning history of German life in the fallout of the Third Reich, filled with eye-opening, shocking and vitally human stories of ruin, repression and revival.
***LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2021***
'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.
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 readBernhard 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 shadesSinclair McKay, bestselling author of Dresden: The Fire and the Darkness
Magisterial, fascinating, humane - a brilliant book of the greatest importance and achievementPhilippe 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 lifeJack Fairweather, bestselling author of The Volunteer
Exemplary [and] important... This is the kind of book few writers possess the clarity of vision to writeMax Hastings, Sunday Times
Magnificent... There are great lessons in the nature of humanity to be learnt hereRupert 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 bunkerIrish Times
A magnificent overview of the astonishing decade in Germany that followed the defeat of NazismDaily Telegraph (Best Summer Reading)
Eye-opening and often moving... a sobering look at how societies rebuildBBC 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 overIrish Independent (Summer Reads)
A masterpieceThe 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
Thought-provoking... Jähner's unflinching account is a reminder that historical truths are rarely simple and always nuancedDaily Mail