Top positive review
A good read
December 27, 2017
This interesting book is not really a war memoir but the biography of a man whose life was wrapped around German history. In fact, he actually
has little to say about his specific role in the war.
The author spends most of his time explaining his family life and growing up in Germany at a time when the Nazis were becoming the dominate political force in Germany. His observations of how it was possible for the German people to buy into Nazism and fact most Germans were clearly devote followers of the system are quite interesting.
As a young man he was influenced enough to request assignment to the Waffen SS only to have family intervention probably safe his life. These men were destined to fight on the Eastern Front during the war. Instead, he finds himself a mechanized infantryman in the German army fighting mostly in Italy.
At some point, he requests a transfer to a command unit called Brandenburg. I found it interesting that a brief interview was all it took for him to be added to its ranks. Many of these men found themselves in this position because of extensive language skills, or experience with espionage, sabotage and other dark arts.
He writes precious little about his experiences in Russia. He does, however, tell us about losing the tip of a finger to a Russian rifle. In fact, I have some questions about the vague nature of the author’s wartime experience. For the author to have served as either an infantry man in Russia or a command in Italy he would, and should, have had much more to say about the war. I also found his comments regarding German culpability to be quite curious as well.
In short: I think he left out the details. There is a lot of rich information here that wish the author had provided more clarity and details. My guess is there is a reason for this. I also think he did more than systems analysis for clerical matters for the US Army post-war.
The book has a lot of interesting information about what Germany was like in the early years after the war and his experiences attempting to make a living. He writes extensively about his family’s separation based on the division of Germany after the war. It was not easy. He lived a hard life.
Over all, I enjoyed this book. If you want to know more about the German perspective I would strongly recommend the classic work, “The Forgotten Soldier,” by Guy Sajer and “In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier’s Memoir of the Eastern Front,” by Gottlob Herbert.