A profoundly significant exploration of how Europeans-both Germans and those under German occupation-struggled to make sense of the conflict by giving it some shape or meaning, or by simply accepting in the end that it made no sense... In a strikingly original chapter [Fritzsche] explores the question of where God stood in people's accounts of wartime excesses... It is difficult to do full justice to the richness and range of sources that Mr. Fritzsche has unearthed. The book is very much a history from below, providing glimpses of the reality, but it reflects the way that many ordinary people experience catastrophe then and now.
A work of deep reflection by an experienced historian rather than an attempt to capture the history of World War II from any particular angle. Still, his announced theme - the moral challenges of the war for civilians in Europe - gives way at the beginning to set pieces on other subjects: the ones, the reader suspects, that Fritzsche finds most interesting. It is a pleasure to follow along.