Caroline Moorehead

A Fearful Freedom

Liberation: The Bitter Road to Freedom, Europe 1944–1945

By

Faber & Faber 446pp £25 order from our bookshop

Of the many powerful images of the liberation of Europe at the end of the Second World War, two stand out. The first is of Charles de Gaulle and the Free French striding down the Champs-Elysées in August 1944, watched by cheering men and women throwing flowers; the second is of the skeletal figures and mounds of corpses found by the British the following April in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. But in between lay eight months of appalling and destructive warfare, as the Allies advanced across German-occupied Europe, and the Germans retreated. In some places – Normandy, the Ardennes, Warsaw – liberation was considerably worse, in terms of deaths, brutality, rape, hunger and looting, than the war itself. Liberation is about neither military tactics nor soldiers, but is a much needed, detailed look at the civilians caught between what at times must have seemed not just one enemy but two.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • One woman 'travelled round the south of India with a retinue of 750 people, fourteen elephants, two racing camels f… ,
    • Stuck for a gift idea for Father's Day? Subscribe to Literary Review and get a FREE copy of 'An Impeccable Spy' –… ,
    • 'Gone. All gone. The ease, the pleasure, the effortless eloquence' From May 1995, Margaret Forster's withering rev… ,
    • RT : SO excited to tell you about this event! 😆 The amazing digital colourist, will be joining w… ,
    • 'Peters was unashamed and evidently unshamable, an impostor who wholly inhabited his fabrications and who indignant… ,
    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,