Antony Beevor

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Antony Beevor : biography

14 December 1946 –

Antony James Beevor, FRSL (born 14 December 1946) is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission. He has published several popular histories on World War II and the 20th century in general.

Overview

He is a visiting professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London.

He is descended from a long line of women writers, being a son of "Kinta" Beevor (born Carinthia Jane Waterfield, 22 December 1911 – 29 August 1995), herself the daughter of Lina Waterfield, and a descendant of Lucie Duff-Gordon (author of a travelogue on Egypt). Kinta Beevor wrote A Tuscan Childhood. Antony Beevor is married to the Hon. Artemis Cooper, granddaughter of Duff Cooper and of Lady Diana Cooper.

Between leaving the Army and starting to write, he was an account executive with the advertising and marketing firm of Masius Wynne Williams, working on campaigns for the food products firm Rank Hovis McDougall.

His best known works, the best-selling Stalingrad and Berlin – The Downfall 1945, recount the World War II battles between the Soviet Union and Germany. They have been praised for their vivid, compelling style, their treatment of the ordinary lives of combatants and civilians and the use of newly disclosed documents from Soviet archives. Beevor’s works have been used as sources and credited as such in many recent documentary films about World War II.

Controversy regarding Soviet rapes

Berlin: The Downfall 1945 encountered criticism in Russia. The criticism centres on the book’s discussion of atrocities, which, according to the historical consensus prevailing in Germany and the West, were committed by the Red Army against German civilians, in particular, the extremely widespread rape of German women and female Russian forced labourers, both before and after the end of the war. The Russian ambassador to the UK denounced the book as "lies" and "slander against the people who saved the world from Nazism".

O.A. Rzheshevsky, a professor and the president of the Russian Association of World War II Historians, has charged that Beevor is merely resurrecting the discredited and racist views of Neo-Nazi historians, who depicted Soviet troops as subhuman "Asiatic hordes". (In Russian). He claimed that Beevor’s use of phrases such as "Berliners remember" and "the experiences of the raped German women" were better suited "for pulp fiction, than scientific research". Rzheshevsky also defended Soviet reprisals against Germans, stating that the Germans could have expected an "avalanche of revenge".

Beevor has responded to Russian claims. He states that he used excerpts from the report of General Tsigankov, the chief of the political department of the 1st Ukrainian Front, to cite the incident. He responded to Rzheshevsky by saying, "Professor O.A. Rzheshevsky even accused me of repeating Nazi propaganda, when in fact the bulk of the evidence on the subject came from Soviet sources, especially the NKVD reports in GARF (State Archive of the Russian Federation), and a wide range of reliable personal accounts."

Beevor stated that he hopes that Russian historians will "take a more objective approach to material in their own archives which are at odds to the heroic myth of the Red Army as ‘liberators’ in 1945".

Other UK historians such as Richard Overy, from the University of Exeter, have criticized Russian outrage at the book and defended Beevor. Overy accused the Russians of refusing to acknowledge Soviet war crimes, "Partly this is because they felt that much of it was justified vengeance against an enemy who committed much worse, and partly it was because they were writing the victors’ history."