ISSUE 10, July 2004
Editorial
John Pine: A sociable craftsman
Jumping for Joy: Skydiving for charity
Quarterly Communication: Speeches of: the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master and, Report of the Board of General Purposes
Supreme Grand Chapter: Address of the First Grand Principal and Report of the Committee of General Purposes
Royal Arch: Cheshire gives a lead
  Walking with the greats: Bath Masonic Hall
Motoring in style: Classic Vehicle Club
Masonic education: A daily advancement and Events for your diary
Travel: Portugal
Library & Museum of Freemasonry
Charities
International: A warm welcome in Malta
Masonic ritual: Spoilt for choice
Public relations: Sheffield; Dorset; Chelsea Flower Show; Freemasons' Hall
Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Book reviews

By Patrick Wilson





Inside Hitler’s Bunker:
The Last Days of the Third Reich
by Joachim Fest

(Macmillan, £16.99. ISBN 0-405045906)
If Hitler’s rise from a corporal in the Wehrmacht to Führer of the Third Reich was extraordinary, so too was his fall. Indeed few scenes have so captured popular imagination than the final days of his existence in a Berlin bunker, with the Russians advancing through the rubble of the bombed German capital.
     The story and our image of those final moments has to a large extent been thanks to the remarkable work of Hugh Trevor- Roper, who as a young intelligence officer arriving in Berlin following the cessation of hostilities, interviewed many of the survivors and pictured those final moments.
     Six decades later, Joachim Fest has produced an equally outstanding account of the scene, while providing a wonderful insight into the mentality of Hitler and his entourage as defeat loomed. He describes the claustrophobic atmosphere in the vast concrete labyrinth of interconnecting chambers beneath the Reich Chancellery, with a drugged and enfeebled Hitler veering wildly between hysterical despair and lunatic optimism.
     Fest describes those final moments: “Utterly beside himself, he pounded his fist into his palm while tears ran down his face…‘The war is lost,’ he shouted. ‘But gentleman, if you believe that I will leave Berlin, you are sorely mistaken! I’d rather put a bullet in my head.’”
     His obstinacy and ruthlessness remained until the end. Three days before Hitler’s suicide, Herman Fegelein, an SS General and the husband of Eva Braun’s sister, refused a summons with Hitler because he was drunk, Hitler had him shot despite Eva Braun’s pleas.
     Hitler himself was determined not to suffer the same fate as Mussolini, who died at the hands of partisans. By using both poison (which he had first tested on his beloved alsatian, Blondi) and a pistol he ensured that no mistake was made. An utterly memorable book which provides a tremendously detailed account of those final days.





Molvania:
A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry
by Santo Cilauro, Tom Gleisner and Rob Sitch
(Atlantic Books, £8.99. ISBN 1-843542323)
In an age where libraries are full of travel books from every picture-postcard location in the world, it was somewhat surprising to stumble upon a refreshingly original title. The front cover of toothless peasants selling their wares in deserted flea markets sets the tone for a book that is all about the diversity of culture, and a somewhat unattractive one at that, rather than merely providing another glorification of travel. Since the fall of communism, Eastern Europe has increasingly received rave reviews from fund managers, property hunters and adventurous travellers alike. This travel spoof shows that not all countries in this region can transform themselves from the decades and in some cases, centuries of neglect, decay and poverty.
     As such, any holidaymakers more concerned with budget than research could find themselves sorely surprised by what greets them as they touch down in Molvania.
     The authors succeed in providing a wonderfully witty insight into a country of extreme climate, radioactive lakes, cement factories and smog. It attempts to analyse the strange and in-sanitised culture of a people who have suffered from famine, disease, and oppression in equally high measures.
     Alcoholic waiters and chain-smoking chefs may not be a rarity, but where else is ‘horsflab’ a national delicacy. It hardly surprises therefore that women’s clothing comes in three sizes: small, medium and pregnant.
     Travellers will be equally surprised by the totalitarian housing units – ‘what they lack in old world charm, they more than make up for in concrete.’ This book, the first in the series, is thoroughly readable and informative. Those of you thinking of a budget holiday to Molvania this year may well be advised to have a read of this first.





Pendulum of Battle
Operation Goodwood July 1944
by Christopher Dunphie
(Pen and Sword Books, £19.95. ISBN 1-84415-010-0)
Inevitably the 60th anniversary of the DDay landings has focussed on the magnitude of the operation (Overlord) to seize the beaches and build the vital bridgehead on Nazi-occupied Europe.
     While there is no denying the brilliance of the planning and the boldness of the execution of what is likely to remain the greatest military endeavour of all time, the story does not end there. The weeks that followed the initial assault were fraught with danger and tension.
     Had there been media coverage of the unrestrained nature that we have today, there would have been credible reports of political impatience and unhappiness with commanders’ performances. Results, in the shape of successful breakouts from the tight Allied-held bridgehead, were too long in coming. It is against this background that Operation Goodwood, the largest tank battle involving British armour ever fought, was conducted.
     The author, as a former senior army officer and experienced Normandy battlefield guide, is well qualified to analyse the background, aims, actions and consequences of what was by any standards an ambitious undertaking. He sets the scene for Montgomery’s plan and explains that, due to the chronic shortage of infantry reinforcements, resulting from heavy casualties incurred since . June, there was no choice but to fight an armoured battle. The snag was that, tactically, the ground was less than ideal and the Germans with their deadly ..s, which were converted antiaircraft guns, had a good choice of fire positions from woods and villages.
     This well-informed account provides an excellent balance between the strategy and tactics. Dunphie’s research has included many interviews with those who fought at all levels, be it in command or in the gunner’s seat. Unusually he has also sought out views and experiences of Germans involved and this gives the reader a far fuller picture.
     An added attraction to this book is that there is an annex providing useful instructions on how to visit the battlefield to best effect. Even in a year which is seeing an unprecedented number of books on the Second World War, Pendulum of Battle deserves to be read. It is a serious, yet highly readable study of warfare and can be warmly recommended.