Many factors help explain the ferocious tenacity of German soldiers and civilians. One of them was a justifiable terror of the Red Army. But the suffering that the German civilians endured came preponderantly from the western powers’ slaughter from the air, and until the very end, German soldiers fought as hard in the west as in the east. Surely, one factor—one whose power cannot ultimately be determined—was the Germans’ fear of the terrible reckoning that must follow from their open secret, a secret Goebbels obliquely but unmistakably shared with the nation in a grim 1943 exhortation to fight to the bitter end: “As for us, we’ve burned our bridges behind us… We will either go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or the greatest criminals.” The Final Solution had given the Germans no way forward but Armageddon.

Benjamin Schwarz, “Hitler’s Co-Conspirators”