By Ellie Midwood
Let’s have a sneak peek between the covers of The Road to Liberation. Below is an excerpt of Ellie Midwoods’s fabulous book — The Aftermath.
03:00 Berlin time. All at once, the deceivingly quiet front came alive with thousands of mortars and Katyushas. All around him, the earth trembled as the terrible thunder rolled forward like thousands of Jericho’s trumpets announcing the end of the world, no less. Tadek plugged his ears and opened his mouth to relieve the pressure on his eardrums. He almost pitied the artillerists manning those monstrosities behind him; he was certain they would all go deaf by the end of this bombardment. Of the Germans, who found themselves on the receiving end of this infernal assault, he didn’t even wish to think. Hardly anyone would survive such total obliteration that the 1st Belorussian Front’s commander Zhukov unleashed on their defense lines.
Just when Tadek had thought that the nightmare would never end, the guns had grown suddenly quiet. Through the ringing in his ears, he could still discern the frantic cawing of the birds flying in chaotic circles overhead, terrified out of their wits by not only the bombardment but by thousands of colorful flares that shot up into the sky at once – the signal for the main attack. They hung there for a few seconds like glowing, exotic jellyfish and all at once, it was suddenly daylight all around him, blinding and disorienting. The troops had been warned ahead of time of Zhukov’s recently conceived tactic of installing almost a hundred and fifty powerful searchlights trained on the German positions to stun them and render them defenseless. But even to the Soviet troops, the light had turned out to be so overpowering that it was impossible to look anywhere but straight ahead – ahead and ahead only, across the former no-man’s-land – to Berlin. The light urged them forward, toward the fountains of earth exploding in rapid succession, toward the smokescreen created by the exploded shells that had obscured everything from their sight, toward the trenches, where the torn bodies of their enemies now lay. There was no turning back now. Not a chance for desertion, not in this hellish madness. Perhaps, that was another part of Zhukov’s plan.
Not a single step back.
“Na Berlin!” – To Berlin! – A veritable roar of the charging infantry echoed all around him. And Tadek ran along with them, propelled forward by some inexplicable spirit of destructive delight, mad with a sudden fury and drunk with the desire for revenge.
On the border of Germany proper, next to the disabled carcasses of Wehrmacht vehicles, the very first troops that had crossed it installed a sign: “Here it is, accursed Germany.” The same hatred that they carried in themselves for this country, Tadek felt coursing in his own veins now. On his chest, a medal for courage was gleaming dimly in the smoke-stained morning. He shot and stabbed his way to Berlin along with the troops; first with Konev’s First Ukrainian Front, then with Zhukov’s First Belorussian but the further he went, the worse the withdrawal from such battles was growing. Almost like a hangover after a bad night of drinking, only there was no escaping the nauseating realization that the more lives he took, in revenge for what had been taken from him, the bigger the hole inside of him was growing, sucking the very life out of him with every new battle won.
With tanks rumbling on their heels, they finally reached the German positions. The very few men that had the luck to survive the initial onslaught, stumbled toward them in a dazed state; shouted, in their hoarse voices, the same phrase in their pidgin-Russian – Ivan, don’t shoot, we are prisoners – and nearly fell in a heap at their feet in relief, pushing the safe passage leaflets instead of the white handkerchiefs into the Russians’ hands.
“The white handkerchiefs had been all confiscated before the battle,” one of the Wehrmacht infantrymen explained to a hawk-eyed commissar who conducted the usual interrogation. “By the Feldgendarmerie… to prevent surrender…”
But knowing what was good for them and that all was lost at any rate and that it would have been rather idiotic to die right before the end of this entire affair, the resourceful Wehrmacht landser had still squirreled away a few leaflets, dropped before the battle, by the 7th Department of Propaganda, attached to the First Belorussian and hid them inside their uniforms. Starved, filthy, unshaven, the Germans held those papers in front of themselves now and searched the Russians’ faces, with their wary, mistrustful eyes, desperately hoping for mercy and not really expecting it, at the same time.
“The only promise Hitler has kept is the one he made before coming to power,” one of the newly-surrendered men uttered with a lopsided grin, as he was being patted down for hidden weapons. “Give me ten years and you will not be able to recognize Germany. What do you know? The old sod did not lie.”
Files and files of the POWs began trudging toward the rear of the frontline, where the NKVD detachment awaited them with open arms. Many of the Germans were mere boys, with legs fully covered by much-too-long trench-coats and with helmets sitting so low on their tense faces, gray with fatigue, that they obscured their sight. Some still tried shooting, prior to their foxholes being overrun but dropped their weapons as soon as the Ivans came close; screamed the inevitable and already-familiar, “Hitler kaputt, Stalin gut!” and scrunched up their little, pitiful faces, expecting a beating. The Soviets ordinarily dealt them a kick in the backside and sent them over to the rear, trembling and harmless. For them, the war was finally over. Tadek was amazed at how relieved they all looked, his former enemies.
The Road to Liberation: Trials and Triumphs of WWII
By Marion Kummerow, Marina Osipova, Rachel Wesson, JJ Toner, Ellie Midwood, and Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger.
Riveting stories dedicated to celebrating the end of WWII.
From USA Today, international bestselling and award-winning authors comes a collection filled with courage, betrayal, hardships and, ultimately, victory over some of the most oppressive rulers the world has ever encountered.
By 1944, the Axis powers are fiercely holding on to their quickly shrinking territories.
The stakes are high—on both sides:
Liberators and oppressors face off in the final battles between good and evil. Only personal bravery and self-sacrifice will tip the scales when the world needs it most.
Read about a small child finding unexpected friends amidst the cruelty of the concentration camps, an Auschwitz survivor working to capture a senior member of the SS, the revolt of a domestic servant hunted by the enemy, a young Jewish girl in a desperate plan to escape the Gestapo, the chaos that confused underground resistance fighters in the Soviet Union, and the difficult lives of a British family made up of displaced children..
2020 marks 75 years since the world celebrated the end of WWII. These books will transport you across countries and continents during the final days, revealing the high price of freedom—and why it is still so necessary to “never forget”.
Stolen Childhood by Marion Kummerow
The Aftermath by Ellie Midwood
When's Mummy coming? by Rachel Wesson
Too Many Wolves in the Local Woods by Marina Osipova
Liberation Berlin by JJ Toner
Magda’s Mark by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger
Pick up your copy of
The Road to Liberation
My background is in Mathematics and computing, but I have been writing full time since 2005. I write short stories and novels. My novels include the bestselling WW2 spy story 'The Black Orchestra', and its three sequels, 'The Wings of the Eagle', 'A Postcard from Hamburg', and 'The Gingerbread Spy'.
Many of my short stories have been published in mainstream magazines. Check out 'EGGS and Other Stories' - a collection of satirical SF stories. I was born in a cabbage patch in Ireland, and I still live here with my first wife, although a significant part of our extended family lives in Australia.
Marina Osipova was born in East Germany into a military family and grew up in Russia where she graduated from the Moscow State Institute of History and Archives. She also has a diploma as a German language translator from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages. In Russia, she worked first in a scientific-technical institute as a translator then in a Government Ministry in the office of international relations, later for some Austrian firms. For seventeen years, she lived in the United States where she worked in a law firm. Eventually, she found her home in Austria. She is an award-winning author and a member of the Historical Novel Society.
Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to "discover the world" and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she's now living with her family.
After dipping her toes with non-fiction books, she finally tackled the project dear to her heart. UNRELENTING is the story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime. It's a book about resilience, love and the courage to stand up and do the right thing.
Rachel Wesson is Irish born and bred. Drawn to reading from an early age, she started writing for publication a few years back. When she is not writing, Rachel likes to spend her time reading and playing with her three kids. Living in Dublin there are plenty of things to do, although the cowboys and Indians of her books rarely make an appearance. To chat with Rachel connect with her on Facebook - authorrachelwesson. To check out her newest releases sign up to her mailing list.
Ellie Midwood is a USA Today bestselling and award-winning historical fiction author. She owes her interest in the history of the Second World War to her grandfather, Junior Sergeant in the 2nd Guards Tank Army of the First Belorussian Front, who began telling her about his experiences on the frontline when she was a young girl. Growing up, her interest in history only deepened and transformed from reading about the war to writing about it. After obtaining her BA in Linguistics, Ellie decided to make writing her full-time career and began working on her first full-length historical novel, "The Girl from Berlin." Ellie is continuously enriching her library with new research material and feeds her passion for WWII and Holocaust history by collecting rare memorabilia and documents.
In her free time, Ellie is a health-obsessed yoga enthusiast, neat freak, adventurer, Nazi Germany history expert, polyglot, philosopher, a proud Jew, and a doggie mama. Ellie lives in New York with her fiancé and their Chihuahua named Shark Bait.
Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger was born in Minnesota in 1969 and grew up in the culture-rich neighborhood of "Nordeast" Minneapolis. She started her writing career with short stories, travel narratives, worked as a journalist and then as a managing editor for a magazine publisher before jumping the editor's desk and pursuing her dreams of writing and traveling. In 2000, she moved to western Austria and established her own communications training company. In 2005, she self-published a historical narrative based on her relatives' personal histories and experiences in Ukraine during WWII. She has won several awards for her short stories and now primarily writes historical fiction. During a trip into northern Italy over the Reschen Pass, she stood on the edge of Reschen Lake and desperately wanted to understand how a 15th-century church tower ends up sticking out of the water. What stories were lying beneath? Some eight years later, she launched the "Reschen Valley" series with five books and a novella releasing between 2018 and 2021.
For more on Chrystyna, dive in at inktreks(dot)com.