Aftermath

Aftermath

Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich

Summary

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***SHORTLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE 2021***

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.

'Magisterial, fascinating, humane - a brilliant book of the greatest importance and achievement' PHILIPPE SANDS

'Absolutely extraordinary. Every page stops you dead with insight and revelation' JAMES HAWES

'For those who want to understand the Germans, Aftermath is essential reading. Anyone with even the slightest interest in history and the human condition should read this book' JULIA BOYD

© Harald Jähner 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Reviews

  • Exemplary [and] important... This is the kind of book few writers possess the clarity of vision to write
    Max Hastings, Sunday Times

About the author

Harald Jähner

Harald Jähner is a cultural journalist and former editor of the Berliner Zeitung. He was also an honorary professor of cultural journalism at the Berlin University of the Arts. His book Aftermath: Life in the Fallout of the Third Reich was shortlisted for the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction in the UK and won the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for Non-Fiction in his native Germany.
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