Liberation: The Bitter Road to Freedom, Europe 1944-1945, by William Hitchcock, is a gripping account of the aftermath of the Second World War across Europe.
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The traditional image of Europe in 1945 is of grateful civilians showering soldiers with flowers and dancing in the streets. In reality, liberation was an extraordinarily violent and chaotic process. Using first-hand accounts, Hitchcock describes the catastrophic effects of invasion on Northern France, Belgium and Holland, the huge civilian death tolls from indiscriminate bombing, with towns destroyed and crops burnt. He shows that the motives and behaviour of the Allied forces were far from noble; they frequently abused power and authority, looted homes and sexually assaulted women. Hitchcock also writes about the discovery of the major concentration camps, and the often shocking lack of empathy shown by its liberators. Lucid and compelling, Liberation explores the paradoxes of ‘the good war’, its glories and its horrific human costs.
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