One of the most bizarre and fascinating tales to come out of World War II is documented in the highly praised new book The Last Battle: When U.S. and German Soldiers Joined Forces in the Waning Hours of World War II in Europe by Stephen Harding. In this story, which sounds like the plot of a Hollywood film, American soldiers, French prisoners and anti-Nazi German soldiers fight an SS division to defend a medieval Austrian Castle. The battle takes place at Schloss Itter on May 5, 1945, just five days after Hitler’s suicide. The castle houses some very prominent French POWs including ex-prime ministers Paul Reynaud and Eduard Daladier and former commanders-in-chief Generals Maxime Weygand and Paul Gamelin.
One of the most interesting details is that wives and girlfriends of the prisoners voluntarily showed up at the battle to help defeat the Nazis who were planning to execute the VIPs. The book was previously published in German, but this is the first time this colorful and extraordinary story has been told in English.
In addition to the fact that the subject matter is so compelling, it is also an important episode in history, as it marks the only time during the Second World War that American and German soldiers fought side by side.