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on May 18, 2015
And then began the battleship bombardment, shells large enough to see coming in, that leave their bunkers cracked and broken and men deaf and bleeding from the eyes. When allied numbers overwhelm it becomes hand to hand for survival. All believe reinforcements are imminent and that few prisoners would be taken. Another soldier in a guard position away from the beach realizes an attack is on when in the night his partner is killed paratroopers. A third soldier survives a tank flamethrower attack on his bunker. The author interviewed men at all 5 beaches prior to the invasion. He finds survivors and interviews them when they are about 30 years old, the memories are horrible in their detail. Each beach is a chapter. Many of the soldiers serve here as a result of wounds in Russia or infirm conditions like asthma. After regaining consciousness later in the morning, one soldier finds himself in a wire enclosure with fellow Germans being treated by an allied medic. In low whispers the prisoners discuss the beach spectacle. “Defective equipment is pushed aside with no attempt at repairs. Where are the horses? Can fuel be so plentiful that there is no need for horses? If that is so, our war is lost.” Wow. My best vacation read this year. Highest recommendations.
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on May 12, 2017
For those of us whose national and family histories are aligned with the British, Canadian, and U.S. nations and war efforts, this is a valuable complement to our understanding and challenges of the the invading and the invaded of the D-Day attack and immediate aftermath of the June 6, 1944 Normandy invasion. It provides clear-eyed, candid perspectives of several well-placed German defenders just before, during, and just after the armies of the Western powers stormed ashore on that fateful day. It does not sanitize the carnage of warfare and is a sobering reminder of its horror and the necessity of trying to avoid it. This is probably most fruitfully read in the context of having previously reviewed the Western soldiers' experiences of this monumental event.
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on June 22, 2017
I haven't finished yet, but impressed by the content so far.

It is simply a series of interviews of German soldiers taken years after D-Day. Their stories are haunting and bloody and graphic and brutal. It's like the opening scene of "Saving Private Ryan" but told from the German side. Stories include how they gunned down Americans storming the beach, and how they in turn were bombed and strafed and burned by flamethrowers and everything else one can imagine.

Though it presents a somewhat dry re-telling of what these men witnessed that day, occasionally you get some unexpected tidbits about their view on the war and their place in it. Informed by the German propaganda machine, as they were, a couple of them say they were fighting for a "united Europe" against the "American corporations and bankers".

It's not a fun read (because of all that I just mentioned above), but it is a relevant testimonial to what that day was like.

***Update - this book has remained prominent in mind for months, so I am raising it to five stars. It is impactful reading.
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on June 4, 2017
What I find fantastic about this book is that it almost entirely composed of primary source material--direct interviews with German survivors of the D-Day invasion by the Allies. The format is clear and organized. Each soldier is briefly described or introduced, and then follows a series of questions and answers. I am guessing that the editor of the book selected the best interviews from the records compiled by the interviewer, his father, a German war correspondent. But that is only a guess. I write this because each account is so informative and clearly constructed, a miniature masterpiece of memory of the events of June 6, 1944 at a particular point in the momentous battle raging on a much larger scale.

The questions and answers are mostly direct and unvarnished, giving us honest insight into not only the experiences of typical German soldiers, but their attitudes and beliefs as well. The author provides the briefest of commentary at the end, refreshing as well. We get and are bombarded by plenty of opinions and interpretations of history. It was a relief to be left alone to ponder these soldiers' accounts for oneself.

Some particular points that stood out to me: I was surprised by how some writers were themselves surprised by the ferocity, anger and hatred of the Allied soldiers they encountered in battle. This struck me as both naive and ignorant, but I also realize I can only dimly imagine how their perspective was shaped by the German political and cultural experience. They also mentioned how they viewed their mission as defending Europe as part of a broader pan-European coalition against Communism, international corporations and finance, etc. Reference was made more than once to non-German personnel serving as part of the German forces. The execution of Allied soldiers by SS troops in particular was familiar to me from reading about the Battle of the Bulge and the Russian front, but it sounds like it was quite widespread based on these D-Day accounts. The inclusion of this point, very unfavorable to the German cause, deepens my respect for the trustworthiness of these interviews. Finally, the detailed descriptions of the gruesomeness of World War II combat is another example of the work's authenticity and accuracy.

For those interested in World War II and honest history, I highly recommend this book.
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on January 23, 2017
Good personal accounts of a soldier from 4 of the invasion beaches. A little bit like an interview done in the 1950s. Accurate, not sensationalist, very matter of fact. That being said it gained credibility because it was like talking to an old relative. Gave good insight into the average soldiers thinking, eg they believed that they had united Europe under German protection and were protecting Europe from Communism. Therefore they could not understand why the allies were fighting against them.
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on May 23, 2017
This book was surprisingly interesting. I am a minor history buff. When I saw the review on this book, I felt compelled to read it simply because it potentially could give a non-Allied view of D-Day, this despite the fact that the review made the book sound like a compilation of war stories. Well, it Herr Eckhertz recounts four or five individual D-Day experiences second hand, from notes of interviews taken by his father, I believe. From a historical perspective, from any perspective actually, I am not interested in stories of individual combat experience. (I am a Viet Nam veteran and did experience combat and don't like thinking about anyone's combat experiences.) Rather I am interested in the tactical, political, and socioeconomic influences on war. However, to my surprise, I found all of the stories related in "D Day Through German Eyes" quite interesting. As I write this, I cannot explain why, but I can state confidently that the book is worth the trouble of reading.
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on November 21, 2017
These books, and the audiobooks, are entertaining, but there are serious questions about the authenticity of these interviews. In particular, there is no supporting information about the author, his grandfather, or the source documents. Nothing is referenced about the editing process, or how interviews were selected. Nothing shows up on the web, and claims made in the book cannot be verified by an independent search. Moreover, there does not appear to be any record of the author's grandfather in the records of the publication he supposedly worked for during the war.

If you want to be entertained by fantasy stories, this book, and its follow-up, are probably fine. I have a major problem with them being passed off as non-fiction though, especially because, if created in the modern era, it smacks of glorification of the Nazi regime. Also, it does a disservice to the actual men and women who took part in the combat in Normandy in 1944. I would call on the author, publisher, and Amazon to either reclassify these books as fiction, or provide the source documents to scholars for review.
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on July 19, 2017
During the Second World War Mr. Dieter Eckhertz was a German war reporter, who on the tenth anniversary of the D day in 1954, interviewed 5 German soldiers he has met when the ‘Atlantic Wall’ was being built and survived the D Day; or as Germans referred to it ‘The Invasion of France’ or ‘The Normandy Attack.’
It shall be pointed out the remarkable conviction of every one interviewed, that they were defending France and with it a United Europe.
Also deserves to mention that all 5 interviewees are consistent affirming that there was not aerial support from the Luftwaffe neither enough from tanks or heavy artillery. Every one manifest that this invasion was completely unexpected.
Since Mr. Eckhertz died in 1955, D Day through German Eyes is a compilation done by his grandson of those interviews.
In a plain language and easy reading, the book describes the destruction and killing done by the allies during that one day in the Normandy beaches and the astonishment of the German soldiers when they got acquainted of the huge amount of all kind of ships and landing barges in front of the beaches, plus the diversity and quantity of aircrafts and tanks.
One question, just one: Who provided the large manpower required to build all these bunkers and fortifications?
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on December 29, 2017
This is Book One of two. The author interviewed the German soldiers manning the guns in the German defenses at Normandy prior to D Day and as many of the survivors as he could find ten years later. I read books written by the fighting men on both sides of a war because I want to know their thoughts and feelings. The commanders see one war but the men in the trenches, so to speak, see a different one. Both are real but but it's more real for the guys on the front lines. When I was in Vietnam I found that the war was quite different for somebody that was in a different part of the country the same time I was over there or somebody was the same place I was but at a different time and that's when I started reading books written by and about people on the other side.
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on July 23, 2017
There's many books about D-Day from the Allied point-of-view, but this is the only one from the German side. They fought bravely but were mostly conscripts, old men and injured soldiers. Elite troops were in Russia or held in reserve. Except for Omaha Beach, the Germans were simply overwhelmed by the massive size of the invasion. Communication and organization was poor and they sometimes ran short (thankfully) of ammunition. They were surprised by their humanitarian treatment after they were captured.
Imagine facing the largest invasion force in history, with little support. This book tells that story.
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