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  • Published: 31 October 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448116287
  • Imprint: Ebury Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

Their Darkest Hour

People Tested to the Extreme in WWII

A collection of chilling first-hand accounts that throws new light on our understanding of World War II

How could Nazi killers shoot Jewish women and children at close range? Why did Japanese soldiers rape and murder on such a horrendous scale? How was it possible to endure the torment of a Nazi concentration camp?

Award-winning documentary maker and historian Laurence Rees has spent nearly 20 years wrestling with these questions in the course of filming hundreds of interviews with people tested to the extreme during World War II. He has come face-to-face with rapists, mass murderers, even cannibals, but he has also met courageous individuals who are an inspiration to us all.

In Their Darkest Hour he presents 35 of his most electrifying encounters.

  • Published: 31 October 2011
  • ISBN: 9781448116287
  • Imprint: Ebury Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the author

Laurence Rees

Laurence Rees has won the British Book Award for History Book of the Year 2006 for his international bestseller Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'. His career as a writer and filmmaker, focusing on the Nazis and World War II, stretches back nearly 20 years and includes the acclaimed television series Nazis: A Warning from History, War of the Century, Horror in the East and, most recently, Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'. The body of work has won him a myriad of awards including a BAFTA. a Grierson Award and an international Documentary Award. He was educated at Solihull School and Oxford University and is Creative Director of BBC TV History programmes.

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Praise for Their Darkest Hour

A horrifying, spellbinding work

BBC History magazine

A lasting contribution to our understanding of the Second World War and a powerful insight into the behaviour of human beings in crisis


A remarkably powerful collection

Antony Beevor, Daily Telegraph

An incredible, well-written, must-read book

Glasgow Evening Times

Chilling collection of eye-witness testimonies ... bringing nuance to our understanding of the horrific experience of war

Financial Times

Enthralling and often chilling

Wales on Sunday

Fascinating but disturbing

Daily Mail

Laurence Rees has devoted much of his life to trying to understand how the atrocities of the Second World War were possible. Nobody else has penetrated as far into the motivation and psyche of such a varied group of people from the war. We should be grateful to him for his work - and we should all read this book


Laurence Rees has done more for good history on television in this country than anyone else. Over several series, he has examined the most terrible aspects of the Second World War with a passionate longing to understand, while rejecting facile moral judgment ...Their Darkest Hour comes from a selection of his interviews with both perpetrators and victims ...The cumulative effects of Rees's observations, to say nothing of the stories themselves, become deeply disturbing

Anthony Beevor, Daily Telegraph

Powerful and unsettling

Sunday Times

Rees has made an important contribution to our understanding of the Second World War. His great urge to comprehend the mentalities of those who took part in the conflict is fired by a passionate curiosity, and his wide body of work is distinguished by a fierce intellectual honesty

Antony Beevor, author of STALINGRAD

Rees is one of the few people - perhaps the only one - who has met and interviewed at length not only hundreds of people who suffered from the barbarities of World War Two right across the globe but also, crucially, many of the perpetrators ... All this has given Rees a comparative, cross-cultural perspective on the horrors of the war that no academic could match

Daniel Snowman, author of HISTORIANS and THE HITLER EMIGRES

The absence of high-profile participants and broad range of source material gives this emotive, elegantly written work an indelible authenticity that will be difficult to erase.

Glasgow Herald

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