Today I kick off a new series on my blog featuring guest posts by the other authors in The Road to Liberation collection. It’s my honor to stand shoulder to shoulder with these talented individuals.
It’s a pleasure to introduce award-winning thriller author JJ Toner as he provides some of the historical context behind his novel Liberation Berlin.
The Liberation of Berlin 1945
The end of the war in Germany liberated those countries occupied by the Nazis, and the survivors of the deadly concentration camps. My book, Liberation Berlin, was inspired by the thought that the German people were also liberated in 1945. Held in thrall for 12 years by a mesmerizing leader and the ubiquitous, oppressive jackboot of the Schutzstaffel (SS), only the radical removal of the whole miserable edifice could have freed the German people from the evil that had invaded their souls.
Consider the mindset of Hitler and his ministers in 1944 after the D-Day invasion and the military reverses suffered in Russia. They must have known that the war would end in defeat and that their actions against the Jews and others, amounting to millions of innocent deaths, would be viewed as heinous crimes by the international community. What did they do? For months, Hitler insisted that the war could still be won. Then, as the situation got worse, he demanded that the Wehrmacht and the German people fight on to the last bullet, to the last man. The fanatical SS dug their heels in, and put these suicidal orders into effect.
As Berlin was encircled by the Allies from the west and the Red Army from the east, old men and young boys (and girls) were recruited to the defence of the city, while Josef Goebbels stoked the fires of obdurate self-delusion on the radio. Even as the end drew inexorably closer, the SS continued to seek out Jews and other ‘undesirables’ for transport to the camps. Squads of Feldjägerkorps ‘head hunters’ roamed the streets in search of deserters to shoot. Right up until the end of March 1945, London was still being bombed by V1 doodlebugs and V2 rockets.
The civilian population of Berlin huddled in underground shelters, suffering hunger and thirst, while Western Allied bombers pounded the city day and night. The bombardment ceased on Hitler’s birthday, April 20. Even then, ten days before the Führer shot himself in his bunker, rumours abounded, fuelled by Nazi propaganda, of a new secret V3 weapon that would turn the tide of the war in Germany’s favour.
Josef Goebbels was Gauleiter (regional leader) for Berlin for the duration of the war. He also held the position of Minister for Propaganda and Enlightenment. As Gauleiter of Berlin, he proved himself a fanatical Nazi and ardent apostle of Hitler’s. Seriously antisemitic, he embraced and promoted with enthusiasm the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’ (devised at the 1942 Wannsee Conference).
Some Gauleiter were assassinated by resistance cells during the war; one or two were executed by the SS. Many of those that survived to the end of the war were tried for crimes against humanity and most of those were convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Some were executed. Many died by their own hands.
Goebbels found his own ‘final solution’. Within 24 hours of Hitler’s suicide, he had poisoned his six children and his wife, and followed his leader to the abyss of hell.
About Liberation Berlin:
Berlin 1944. Inge, a 14-year-old Jewish girl is in hiding. She fears the Gestapo more than she fears the advancing Soviet troops.
As the Red Army encircles the city, the remains of a defeated German army face overwhelming odds. But the fanatical SS refuse to give up, recruiting boys and old men to man the trenches.
Led by a baker’s assistant and a one-legged ex-soldier, a ragtag collection of friends makes desperate plans to help Inge escape.
They are up against a continuous day-and-night Allied bombing campaign and Anton, a 12- year-old Hitler Youth, who can’t wait to join the battle and have his moment of glory.
About JJ Toner:
JJ Toner is an award-winning author of novels and short stories. Best known for his Black Orchestra series and his Kommissar Saxon detective stories, he lives in Ireland.
To find out more about JJ Toner, visit his website, https://www.JJToner.com/ , where you can follow him on social media and sign up for his newsletter.