Alan Allport

The Homecoming

The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War

By

Jonathan Cape 42pp £25 order from our bookshop

One of the great ironies of Hitler’s catastrophic twelve-year rule from 1933 to 1945 – an irony no doubt lost on the Führer himself – was that a regime so fixated with racial purity ended up making Germany the ethnic dumping ground of Europe. By the summer of 1944, a quarter of the German workforce were non-citizens; there were nearly eight million of them from at least twenty countries, either prisoners of war conscripted for corvée labour or else Hilfswillige, ‘volunteers’ imported, with varying degrees of coercion, to work for the Reich. Most of the Hiwis were Poles and Russians, often female, often very young: the typical worker was said to be an eighteen-year-old schoolgirl from Kiev. Half a million concentration camp inmates, Jewish and non-Jewish, were churning out Messerschmitts and machine guns in the Reich’s armament factories and toiling on the Pharaonic construction projects of Armaments Minister Albert Speer. Germany was the hub of a vast and polyglot slave empire.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,
    • ‘Look,’ says Trump. ‘The fact is I’m only human.’ On the evidence of this book that point is debatable. From the A… ,
    • From our December/January issue - here's John Banville's review of Colm Tóibín on the fathers of Wilde, Yeats and J… ,