Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park: the WWII Codebreaking Centre and the Men and Women who Worked There by Sinclair McKay

This is a shortish description of Bletchley Park with a focus on personal experiences. It did not add much to my understanding other than the chapter on Russian connections. I knew that Cairncross had worked at Bletchley but I was not sure about official mechanisms for feeding information from Bletchley to the Soviet government. I’d like to learn more about this. It also suggested some blockage of information getting from Bletchley relating to relations with Yugoslav partisans, this might have influenced the UK decision to back Tito.

It was quite readable and would form a good introduction to Bletchley.

Kit gave me this for Christmas, a nice present. I finished it on while skiing in St Anton.

Engineers of Victory: the Problem Solvers who Turned the Tide in the Second World War by Paul Kennedy

This is a readable account of five aspects of WWII taken at a very macroscopic level. It covers the battle of the Atlantic, the air war over Germany, massed land operations, invasion of a defended shore, and the long range operations in the war against Japan.

Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding

This describes in parallel the lives of Hanns Alexander and Rudolf Höss. The former grew up in Berlin in a prosperous German family before fleeing to London in the 1930s. The latter fought for the Germans in WW1, joined the FreiKorps and then became a Nazi. Hanns Alexander joined the British army in WW2 while Rudolf Höss joined the SS and became the Kommandant of Auschwitz. At the end of the war Hanns Alexander worked tracking down war criminals and was instrumental in finding and arresting Rudolf Höss. It follows the path Höss took through various war crimes trials to his own trial and execution in Auschwitz. It seems that he gave quite a frank account of the operation of Auschwitz. Perhaps he even had some inkling of how horrendous it was, but I’m not sure. Certainly his qualms came later and hadn’t stopped him carrying out his duties.