Simon Heffer

Guilty Parties

The German War: A Nation under Arms, 1939–45

By Nicholas Stargardt

The Bodley Head 704pp £25 order from our bookshop

Any book with this title must detail how Germany fought the Second World War and the effect that fighting had on its people. Nicholas Stargardt does that rigorously and with wide-ranging scholarship that embraces numerous primary and secondary sources. But such a book also has to consider the moral character of a nation and people that wilfully started the conflict, lied about its causes and engaged in a series of bestial acts that ranged from the ‘euthanasia’ of the disabled to the wholesale genocide of between five and six million Jews. Stargardt tackles this dimension, too, with rigour, and as a result his book is a considerable success, even though it covers ground that will be familiar to experts in this period.

Sara Stewart


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