Library Chronicle: Non-Fictional Works for Adults on WWII – The Vicksburg Post
This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren-Vicksburg County Public Library.
This week’s column features new adult non-fiction focused on WWII.
Author David A. Price tells the fascinating tale of the great minds behind Colossus and recounts the remarkable feats of engineering that helped usher in the digital age in his new book “Geniuses at War”. In planning the invasion of Normandy, the Allies knew that decoding communications from the Nazi high command was essential to their success. In their path stood the encryption machine the British called Tunny, which was extremely more difficult to decipher than the infamous Enigma cipher. Alan Turing, the Enigma code breaker, brought in a working-class maverick engineer named Tommy Flowers to help him. Flowers devised the ingenious, daring, and controversial plan to build a machine that would calculate at blazing speed and break code in near real time. Against all odds, watch and tough leadership, Flowers, along with mathematician Max Newman and their team, produced Colossus, the world’s first digital electronic computer that would help end the war.
In “All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days”, Rebecca Donner gives the true account of the amazing life and barbaric death of Mildred Harnack. Harnack was the American leader of one of the largest underground resistance groups in Germany during World War II. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Mildred Harnack was 26 when she enrolled for a doctorate. program in Germany and witnessed the rapid rise of the Nazi Party. Determined to do something about the authoritarianism she witnessed, she began to hold secret meetings in her apartment. By 1940 his small group of political activists had grown into Berlin’s largest resistance group. Harnack recruited working-class Germans into the resistance, helped Jews escape, plotted acts of sabotage, and collaborated in the drafting of documents denouncing Hitler and calling for revolution. Under cover of night, his accomplices circulated the documents by slipping them into letter boxes, public toilets and telephone booths. When the first gunshots of WWII rang out, she became a spy, sending top-secret intelligence to the Allies. On the eve of her escape to Sweden, she was ambushed by the Gestapo and sentenced by a Nazi military court to six years in a prison camp. Hitler, however, quashed the sentence and ordered its execution. On February 16, 1943, Mildred Harnack was tied to a guillotine and beheaded.
Jonathan Dimbleby’s “Operation Barbarossa” tells the fascinating tale of the greatest military operation not only of WWII but of all time – the invasion of Russia by Nazi Germany in 1941. Operation Barbarossa has was seen as the turning point of the war in Europe by turning allies into deadly enemies and unleashing the atrocities that characterized the Holocaust. Hitler and other Nazi leaders began planning the invasion of Russia even as the pact with the Soviets was in full force. The invasion would annihilate communism, eradicate inferior races, and provide the German people and army with the resources that would ensure both survival and world domination. Barbarossa was a complete fiasco. Between June, when the invasion began, and December 1941, when it stalled, an estimated 6 million men were killed, injured or missing. Both sides committed barbaric acts that few events in the history of the war could match. Once the invasion began to weaken, Germany was virtually guaranteed to lose the war.
Mildred Schindler Janzen tells her remarkable story in “Survive Hitler, Escape Stalin”. Mildred “Mickchen” Schindler lived the peaceful life of a teenage farmer when WWII knocked on the family’s door. Having survived life in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, she and her family faced the terror of a new enemy on the eve of her 16th birthday: Stalin’s Red Army. Mildred and her family were driven from their home and became refugees with a pitiful idling trailer of other families who suffered the same fate. At first, Mildred avoids being taken to labor camps like her father, but when Russian soldiers show up unexpectedly, Mildred is taken away from her mother and brothers. She brilliantly recounts her treacherous journey and the ups and downs of the raw emotions she feels: fear, regret, loneliness, humility, perseverance and challenge. Her odyssey of returning home and reuniting with her family in a war-torn country has many twists and turns, but her resilience and courage against all odds will inspire anyone to live a life of love and laughter.
Author Giles Milton tells the lively story of the race to seize Berlin in the aftermath of World War II in his book “Checkmate in Berlin”. Berlin’s fate was sealed at the Yalta conference in 1945. The city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be divided between the victorious powers – the United States, Britain, France and the United States. ‘Soviet Union. On paper, this seems like a practical solution; however, once the four powers were no longer united by the common goal of defeating Germany, they wasted no time in reverting to their pre-war hostility and mistrust of one another. . Berlin was to be the most spectacular example of the breakdown of civility between the Western allies and the Soviets. We meet the fiery American Colonel Frank “Howlin ‘Mad” Howley who had a penchant for evil and an intense aversion to the Russians. His cunning enemy was General Alexander Kotikov – commander of the Soviet sector – who was known to throw vodka parties. Howley rightly suspected that Kotikov was Stalin’s agent appointed to expel the Western allies not only from Berlin but ultimately from Germany. This book illustrates the first battle of the Cold War as we have never seen it before.