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Hitler's Last Plot: The 139 VIP Hostages Selected for Death in the Final Days of World War II

Hitler's Last Plot: The 139 VIP Hostages Selected for Death in the Final Days of World War II

by Ian Sayer, Jeremy Dronfield

Narrated by Paul Boehmer

Unabridged — 12 hours, 26 minutes

Ian Sayer

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Revealed for the first time: how the SS rounded up the Nazis' most prominent prisoners to serve as human shields for Hitler in the last days of World War II.

In April 1945, as Germany faced defeat, Hitler planned to round up the Third Reich's most valuable prisoners and send them to his "Alpine Fortress", where he and the SS would keep the hostages as they made a last stand against the Allies. The prisoners included European presidents, prime ministers, generals, British secret agents, and German anti-Nazi clerics, celebrities, and officers who had aided the July 1944 bomb plot against Hitler — and the prisoners' families. Orders were given to the SS: If the German military situation deteriorated, the prisoners were to be executed — all 139 of them.

So began a tense, deadly drama. As some prisoners plotted escape, others prepared for the inevitable, and their SS guards grew increasingly volatile, drunk, and trigger-happy as defeat loomed. As a dramatic confrontation between the SS and the Wehrmacht threatened the hostages caught in the middle, the US Army launched a frantic rescue bid to save the hostages before the ax fell.

Drawing on previously unpublished and overlooked sources, Hitler's Last Plot is the first full account of this astounding and shocking story, from the original round-up order to the prisoners' terrifying ordeal and ultimate rescue. Told in a thrilling, pause-resisting narrative, this is one of World War II's most fascinating episodes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This gripping account of one of the important but lesser-known aspects of the last days of the Second World War is packed with brand new information. Ian Sayer is a fine World War Two historian and the owner of the greatest private archive on the subject in Britain and has a long and enviable track record of discovering great historical scoops. Written with pace and verve, yet always true to the facts, this extraordinary story would make an amazing feature film."—Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny

"Examine a little-known episode in the final days of Nazi Germany... [and] the story that unfolds is engaging."—Kirkus Reviews

"[A] story suspenseful and fearful."—New York Review of Books

"For any World War II buff, Hitler's Last Plot is a must-read. But anyone who enjoys a good old-fashioned adventure tale will love it, too."—Washington Independent Review of Books

Kirkus Reviews


Military historian Sayer (co-author: Nazi Gold: The Story of the World's Greatest Robbery—And Its Aftermath, 1984) and biographer/historian Dronfield (The Stone Crusher: The True Story of a Father and Son's Fight for Survival in Auschwitz, 2018) examine a little-known episode in the final days of Nazi Germany.

Readers familiar with the history of the Third Reich will know that various German officers and diplomats floated offers of a separate peace and conditional surrender to the Western Allies. Less familiar is a desperate operation, ordered by Hitler himself, to use "Prominenten"—important prisoners of the regime such as French socialist leader Léon Blum and the opposition pastor Martin Niemöller, to say nothing of a couple of British officers fortuitously named Churchill—as bargaining chips to be used in negotiation, and killed if negotiation failed. The prisoners were both civilian and military, including officers of the Red Army, the Greek government, and Great Britain, the last having become specialists at escape from previous internments. Gathered from various prison camps around the Reich, the "VIP hostages" were taken south into an area that was a supposedly impregnable mountain fastness where the Reich would resist the Allied invaders indefinitely. As it happens, that resistance crumbled, and 139 Prominenten survived. The authors' prose is mostly serviceable, but the story that unfolds is engaging not just for the facts, but also for the possibilities: What if the Nazis had stuck it out in their alpine strongholds and actually played their chips? Of particular interest is the closing chapter, a sequence of denouements that are sometimes surprising and sometimes grimly inevitable: The Soviets executed a couple of their imprisoned generals, with one "rehabilitated" 16 years afterward, so that "he was unable to benefit from the decision," while one of the erstwhile captors involved himself in a postwar organization that supported fugitive war criminals such as Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele.

A footnote to history that will interest students of World War II.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940173690951
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication date: 11/15/2019
Edition description: Unabridged

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