Anyone else would have quit earlier. Their factories in ruin, their army routed, their air force eliminated, their people struggling and starving, the Nazis fought on, long after victory was all but impossible, long after complete defeat was all but inevitable, long after public support and, finally, the pinions of government itself, collapsed. And yet the war went on, the fighting continued, the propaganda effort accelerated, the resistance stiffened.
Of the many mysteries surrounding Nazi Germany, this has been one of the deepest and most debated. Now Ian Kershaw, author of a two-volume biography of Hitler, takes the period from the failed bomb plot against Hitler in July 1944 to the end of the war in May 1945 and offers a persuasive explanation for why, unlike almost every other nation facing certain defeat, Nazi Germany didn’t negotiate and in fact didn’t stop fighting until the country was “militarily battered into submission, its economy destroyed, its cities in ruins, the country occupied by foreign powers.’’