Hitler’s Last Gamble

Competition published on June 5, 2015.

On 16 December, 1944, Hitler launched his ‘last gamble’ in the snow-covered forests and gorges of the Ardennes. He believed he could split the Allies by driving all the way to Antwerp, then force the Canadians and the British out of the war. Although his generals were doubtful of success, younger officers and NCOs were desperate to believe that their homes and families could be saved from the vengeful Red Army approaching from the east. Many were exultant at the prospect of striking back. The Ardennes offensive, with more than a million men involved, became the greatest battle of the war in western Europe.
Antony Beevor (c) John E FryOne of the most fascinating aspects of Beevor’s analysis is the comparative sacrifice of the Red Army on the one hand, and of the US army on the other, a subject to which Putin constantly returns in his glorification of the Great Patriotic War. Unquestionably, the Red Army suffered terribly in driving the Wehrmacht westwards but in 1944, at the decisive moment, ironically, it was the sacrifices of the Americans in the Ardennes that smoothed the path for a rapid Soviet advance that would ultimately enable Russia to build its vast post-war empire. If Hitler had taken the opposite gamble and concentrated on halting the Russians in the East, the Americans, rather than the Soviets, might have liberated Berlin, a development that would have changed utterly the post-war meaning of “west” and “east”.
Ardennes 1944 is vintage Beevor, written with all of his trademark elegance and characterised by the precise depiction of the telling details that shine through the fog of war. As one reviewer remarked “It’s like having Virgil there to lead you through the underworld: he doesn’t leave you stranded amid the horror but leads you back again, a wiser person for having undergone the journey.” Antony Beevor’s WWII oeuvre continues to expand, adding to his accounts of the epic battles for Stalingrad and Berlin this marvellous account of The Ardennes, the battle which finally broke the Wehrmacht.

Watch a video of Antony Beevor talking about Ardennes.

Visit Antony Beevor’s Website
Bert Wright, Editor – The Nudge List
Antony Beevor (c) John E.Fry

We have 3 copies of Ardennes 1944: Hitler’s Last Gamble by Antony Beevor to give away.

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