Persuaded by my good friend and after I have personally convinced myself how it is sometimes hard to find some first hand accounts or memoires I have decided to start making on this forum an on-going project about listing as many German World War 2 memoires and diaries as I can find. I start today ….
[*] Hans Goebeler: „Steel Boat, Iron Hearts: A U-boat Crewman’s Life Aboard U-505„. The extraordinary memoirs of Maschinengefreiter Hans Goebeler, who made every patrol aboard one of the most famous U-boats.
[*] Arthur Baudzus: „U-859„. This partly fictionalized account was written by one of only 20 survivors when the U-859 was sunk by HMS Trenchant near Penang in the Straits of Malacca.
[*] Karl Dönitz: „Memoires: Ten Years and Twenty Days„. Memoires written by Admiral Karl Dönitz about his time as Commander-in-Chief of the U-boats (10 years) and as the last head of state of the Third Reich (20 days).
[*] Erich Topp: „Fackeln über dem Atlantik: Lebensbericht eines U- Boot- Kommandanten„. Erich Topp was one of the most successful U-boat commanders on his famous Red Devil boat, the U-552. This autobiography recounts his wartime and postwar career in the German Navy.
[*] Karl Dönitz: „40 Fragen an Karl Dönitz„. An interview conducted by French journalists, questioning the Admiral about the U-boat war.
[*] Peter-Erich Cremer: „U-333. The Story of a U-Boat Ace„. This well-written first-person narrative is about the career of Kptlt. Cremer of U-333 from the first day of World War II until the last.
[*] Ernst Panse: „Iron Horsemen: The Memoirs of Obergefreiter Ernst Panse, (9th Co., 24th Pz Regt.) 24th Panzer Division, Stalingrad, 1942-1943„. This is an account of the Battle of Stalingrad’s later stages, written from the perspective of a radio operator in a platoon leader’s, later squadron commander’s, tank. Of the 145 men who started the campaign in his squadron, only six survived to the surrender on the 2nd of February 1943.
[*] Wolfgang Hirschfeld: „The Story of a U-boat NCO, 1940-1946„. This unique book based on a highly secret diary kept by Wolfgang Hirshfeld during the war recounts his submarine service aboard U-109 and U-234.
[*] Jost Metzler: „The Laughing Cow. A U-boat Captain’s Story„. This is the first-hand account of the commander of the U-69, who made this U-boat and its exploits famous before leaving it to become Flotilla Commander.
[*] Herbert A. Werner: „Iron Coffins. A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II„. The author was commander of 2 U-boats (U-415 and U-953) and spent most of the war at sea surviving longer than most of his less fortunate comrades.
[*] Karl Dönitz: „Mein wechselvolles Leben„. In this autobiography, Karl Dönitz focuses mainly on his childhood through the pre-war years, but includes a brief summary of the war years and his time in prison.
[*] Baron Burkard Müllenheim-Rechberg: „Battleship Bismarck. A survivor’s story„. Baron von Müllenheim-Rechberg’s formal personal account about the loss of the German battleships Bismarck. The author was the senior surviving officer from the battleship Bismarck.
[*] Hans Herlin with Fritz Kuert: „The Survivor. The True Story of the Sinking of the Doggerbank„. This book is based on ten hours of interviews Hans Herlin conducted with Fritz Kuert, a survivor of a German blockade runner Doggerbank sunk by U-43. Kuert was picked up by a Spanish tanker after 26 days in an open boat with no food and only rainwater to drink. The Spanish were obliged to turn him over to the Americans at Aruba.
[*] Heinz Schäffer: „U-Boat 977- 66 Tage unter Wasser„. The author describes his early years in the Kriegsmarine, the rigors of command on U-148 as well as the difficulties of the journey of U-977 during her epic sail to Argentina during summer 1945.
[*] Erich Raeder: „My Life„. The autobiography of Admiral Erich Rader, the Commander-in-Chief of the wartime Kriegsmarine in which he tries to portray the development of German navies from both wars in his role in this.
[*] Günther Prien: „Mein Weg nach Scapa Flow„. Written in the first person from the U-boat ace’s point of view, but actually ghostwritten by the Ministry of Propaganda, this book covers Günther Prien’s naval experiences from his first enlistment in the merchant navy at age 15 in 1923, to his bold attack on Scapa Flow in 1939.
[*] Georg-Wilhelm Schulz: „Über dem nassen Abgrund„. A well-written biography of Wilhelm Schulz, who was Knight’s Cross winner and commander of ill-fated U-64 (sunk in Narvik) and famous U-124, later commanding officer of the 6th and 25th Flotillas.
[*] Lothar-Günther Buchheim: „Jäger im Weltmeer„. The author describes his patrols aboard U-96, where he served as a war correspondent during October 1941, the patrol that served as the basis of Buchheim’s novel „Das Boot” and of course the now-legendary film.
[*] Wolfgang Frank: „Die Wölfe und der Admiral„. A personal account of another German war correspondent of the U-boat War 1939-1945. During that time Frank attended several meetings of Dönitz’ staff and served aboard several U-boats on war patrols, including U-47.
[*] Karl Alman: „Wolfgang Lüth„. The biography of one of the most controversial and most decorated U-boat commanders of World War II Kapitän zur See Wolfgang Lüth and his war patrols.
[*] Karl-Heinz Marbach: „Von Kolberg über La Rochelle nach Berlin„. The well-written autobiography of Karl-Heinz Marbach, commander of the submarine U-953.
[*] Fritz Deutschmann: „Vom U-Boot-Offizier zum passionierten Jäger„. A biography of the former Engineering Officer of U-18, U-3034 and U-3505.
[*] Fritz Brustat-Naval & Reinhard Suhren: „Nasses Eichenlaub„. A biography of Reinhard „Teddy” Suhren, winner of the Knight’s Cross with Swords and Oak Leaves Cluster as Commander of U-564 and later FdU Barents Sea.
[*] Paul Just: „Vom Seeflieger zum U-Boot-Fahrer„. The author describes his career in the German navy (Kriegsmarine) and his experiences as commander of U-546.
[*] Hans Schmid: „Steuermann durch Krieg und Frieden” The author, a former Obersteuermann (helmsman) writes about his career on German warships and on U-boats. he was one of the three men who had apparently survived the sinking of U-241.
[*] H.G. Schütze: „Operation unter Wasser„. The author describes his patrols as a doctor on board U-382, U-221 and U-358.
[*] Bodo Herzog: „Otto Kretschmer – Der erfolgreichste U-Boot-Kommandant des Zweiten Weltkrieges„. The most exhaustive biography of the greatest submarine ace Otto Kretschmer.
[*] Karl-Friedrich Merten: „Nach Kompaß. Lebenserinnerungen eines Seeoffiziers„. A great autobiography by Kapitän zur See Merten, the Commander of U-68 and also Commanding Officer of the 24th Flotilla.
[*] Rudolf Arendt: „Letzter Befehl: Versenken„. The last commander of U-23 writes about his experiences aboard this U-boat.
[*] Herbert Plottke: „Fächer loos. U-172 im Einsatz„. The author – on board as bosun’s mate – describes the 6 patrols and the eventual sinking of the submarine U-172.
[*] Georg Ernst: „Bis zur letzten Stunde„. The book is about the life of a common sailor in the german u-boat force at the end of the war. The author Georg Ernst had joined the Kriegsmarine as a volunteer at the age of 17 in march 1943 and had the luck to survive and witness the surrender of his submarine U-1109 in May 1945.
[*] Wolf T. Zoepf: „Seven Days in January. With the 6th SS-Mountain Division in Operation NORDWIND„. The author, a Latvian German and a former member of the 12nd SS-Mountain Infantry Regiment of the 6th SS-Mountain Division „NORD” recalls his participation in the Operation „Norwind” in January 1945.
[*] Joachim Schepke: „U-Boot Fahrer von heute„. The author, Joachim Schepke, received the Oak Leaves cluster and was Commander of U-100. He describes life on a U-boat for a wartime audience.
[*] Heinz-Günther Guderian: „From Normandy to the Ruhr. With the 116th Panzer Division in World War II„. The author, the Operations Officer for the 116th Panzer Division, describes his experiences and battles with the 116th Panzer-Division in World War II.
[*] Johann Voss: „Black Edelweiss. A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS„. A machine-gunner in the 11th SS-Mountain Infantry Regiment 11 „Reinhard Heydrich” recalls his battles in the arctic and sub-arctic reaches of Soviet Karelia and Finland and winter offensive in Alsace.
[*] Otto Giese: „Shooting the War: The Memoir and Photographs of a U-Boat Officer in World War II „. Giese as a junior officer aboard the North German Lloyd ocean liner Columbus until its scuttling north of Bermuda in December 1939; American internment and subsequent escape across the Pacific to Japan; return to Europe aboard the German blockade runner Anneliese Essberger from Kobe, Japan, to Bordeaux, France, in late 1941; U-boat training and deployment as a watch officer on U-405 to the Arctic Ocean for four eventful patrols in 1942-43; as second watch officer on the legendary U-181 on its last mission to the Indian Ocean from November 1943 and its prolonged sojourn in Penang, Malaya, and Singapore until the German surrender; and lastly his repatriation from the Far East to Germany and his post-war civilian life.
[*] Helmut Ritgen: „Western Front 1944: Memoirs of a Panzer Lehr Officer„. Colonel Ritgen relates his personal excperiences and those of the elite 130. Panzer-Lehr-Division in Normandy, Falaise, the retreat through France and the battles on the West Wall.
[*] Siegfried Knappe: „Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949„. Knappe served as a Wehrmacht officer in the artillery during the invasions of Czechoslovakia, France and the Soviet Union and as a staff officer during the Italian campaign and the defense of Berlin, where he was captured and spent four years as a Russian POW.
[*] Georg Grossjohann: „Five Years, Four Fronts: The War Years of Georg Grossjohann„. Major Georg Grossjohann joined the army in 1928 as a „Zwolfender”. Joining the 198th Infantry Division after the fall of France and awaiting orders for the Operation „Sealion”, he soon found himself thrown with his regiment in another epic struggle, this time against USSR. Seeing plenty of action in Ukraine, Cherkassy Pocket, Uman and Operation „Bagration”, he was moved with his depleted regiment to Southern France to become the part of the German 19th Army. Covering the withdrawal of his army up the Rhone Valley after Operation „Anvil” and conducting rear guard activity in hot spots such as Montelimar, he fought against US and French colonial troops in the High Vosges, only to be captured by the Americans in May 1945.
[*] Gottlob Herbert Bidermann: „In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier’s Memoir of the Eastern Front„. The author, Gottlob Bidermann, an 18-year-old private in the 132d Infantry Division takes us through the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, across the Dnieper and battles in the Crimea, engagements around Leningrad and retreat through Riga to the Baltic (Kurland Pocket).
[*] Otto Carius: „Tigers in the Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius„. Otto Carius was one of the most successful Panzerkommandanten, destroying some 150 tanks and being decorated with the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross. Joining the army in May 1940, Carius served first as a tank loader with the 21st Panzer Regiment on the East Front until being accepted in an Officer Candidate Course. Assigned as a tank commander to the 2nd Company of 502nd Tank Battalion he saw engagement around Leningrad, Narwa Bridgehead and Daugavpils. In August of 1944, Otto Carius was transferred to Paderborn to the newly created Schwere-Panzer-Jäger Abteilung 512 to be sent again to the frontline in March 1945 near Siegburg, where he took part in the defence of the River Rhine and eventually surrendered to the US Army in April 1945.
[*] Heinz Guderian: „Erinnerungen eines Soldaten„.
A famous memoirs by the Father of the German Panzertruppen in World War II, describing the raise of German armour, his operations in Poland, France and early stages of the Russian campaign. He also describes his duties as an inspector of the Panzerwaffe and as a chief of the general staff at the OKH.
[*] Erich von Manstein: „Verlorene Siege„.
German Field-Marshal Erich von Manstein was one of Hitler’s most brilliant general in World War II. In his memoires, published in 1950s, he describes the battles he had fought in Soviet Union (Crimea, Kursk, Stalingrad and Ukraine) during the war. In his book he also presents the thesis that if the generals had been in charge of strategy instead of Hitler, the war on the Eastern Front could have been won.
[*] Günter K. Koschorrek: „Vergiss die Zeit der Dornen nicht„. The nineteen year-old Günter K. Koschorrek tells his story how he survived World War II. Arrived as a replacement for the 24th Panzer-Division at the end of 1942 in the area of Stalingrad, he miracuously escaped with some of his comrades from the deadly encirclement which trapped most of his division, only to spent the rest of war in Germany in various hospitals and the General Reserve (Ersatz).
[*] Wolfgang Budde: „Die gescheiterten Kommandounternehmen„. The author tells his story about his beginnings in the German army and his service as a Fallschirmpionier (the para-engineers) in North Afrika in 1942 and his time in the Allied captivity.
[*] Hans von Luck: „Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck„. Hans von Luck was born in 1911 in Flensburg, Germany, the son of a naval officer. Entered the Reichswehr as a cadet officer in 1929. In 1939 his motorized unit was one of the first to cross the frontier into Poland, marking the start of World War II. Colonel Von Luck fought with the 7th and then 21st Panzer Division at El Alamein, Kasserine Pass, Belgium, Normandy on D-Day and the Eastern Front. He was wounded twice and received two of his country’s highest awards for gallantry, the German Cross in Gold and the Knight’s Cross. He ended the war a full colonel, one of the youngest in the German army until he was taken prisoner by Red Army soldiers in April 1945. He was released from a Soviet labour camp in 1949, he returned to (West) Germany).
[*] Martin Poppel: „Heaven and Hell: The War Diary of a German Paratrooper„. The author follows his military career from the Hitler Youth in 1933, the training days and numerous engagements with the 7. Fallschirmjäger-Division in Holland, Narvik, Crete, Russia, Sicily, Italy, Normandy until the end of the hostilities, when he was captured on the Rhine and made a prisoner of war in England.
[*] Armin Lehmann: „Hitler’s Last Courier: A Life in Transition„. A first person account of Lehmann’s experiences during the final weeks of war fighting the Russians. Lehmann was only 16 years old when his Hitler Youth unit was given arms and sent to fight the Russians in the streets of Berlin. Lehmann was lucky and survived being wounded and was awarded the Iron Cross. He then served as a courier in the Fuhrerbunker and carried some of the last orders issued by Hitler up until his suicide. Lehmann was eventually captured by the Russians and made a POW.
[*] Nicolaus von Below: „At Hitler’s Side: The memoires of Hitler’s Luftwaffe Adjutant„. Von Below was a 29 year old pilot when Goering selected him for the position of Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant. He was with Hilter at every stage of WWII, and his account is a superb source describing life in Hitler’s inner circle and at headquarters. He provides fascinating insight into how Hitler planned the invasions of Poland and Russia, what he thought of Britain and America, why he placed his faith in the V-1 and V-2 projects and much more. Von Below was also present at the assassination attempt in July 1944 and records the effect on Hitler and his followers. Von Below was the last of Hitler’s close military entourage to emerge from the bunker alive.
[*] Otto W. Renger: „My War Diary July 1943 – September 1945 and as a P.O.W. in Italy and Egypt April 1945 – September 1948„. A native of Gablonz (Sudetenland) Otto W. Renger’s published true life account of his service as a machine gunner with Germany’s famed Fallschirmjägers. This book begins with jump training in France and Germany and then covers heavy combat and specialist panzerfaust and engineer training throughout Italy. The story moves on to his time as a POW in Egypt under the British. This book contains incredible detail regarding Fallschirmjäger training & combat and day to day life.
[*] Henry Metelmann: „Through Hell for Hitler: A Dramatic First-Hand Account of Fighting With the Wehrmacht„. The author recounts his life in the Third Reich, how he became a Panzer soldier and eventually landed on the East Front. There he fought as part of the Von Manstein’s’s 11th Army in the Crimea and Stalingrad campaigns. This followed a service in the Kampfgruppe „Lindemann” during which he eyewitnessed a scorched earth policy in Russia and Ukraine until landing wounded in a hospital in Westphalia in 1944. In early 1945 his unit was send to the Western Front to fight against the Americans, only to be captured on the Rhine in March 1945 and send with a POW train to Cherbourg in France to start his his new life in Allied captivity.
[*] Fedor von Bock: „Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock: The War Diary 1939-1945„. Generalfeldmarschall Fedor von Bock’s memoirs allows the reader to see the entire drama of the Second World War through the eyes of one of Germany’s most important military commanders, who was involved in the invasions of Czechoslovakia, Poland and France and later led Army Group „Center” and later „South” in the battles for Minsk, Smolensk, Moscow and Caucusus until being relived of his command by Adolf Hitler.
[*] Wilhelm Keitel & David Irving (trans.): „The Memoires of Field-marshal Wilhelm Keitel: Chief of the German High Command, 1938-1945„. One of the most dramatic publications of the post-war years, as Chief of the German High Command, Keitel was second only to Hitler in the directionof the devastating war of modern times. The revelations in this book includ the background to the annexations of Austria and Czechoslovakia, as well as an interlacing of the rivalry between the traditional German officers and the SS. The whole astonishing run of military successes seen through the eyes of the triumphing German leaders. Included is also the top-level account of the plans for the invasion of Britain, the fluctuating fortunes of the invasion of Russia are graphically depicted, as well as Hitler’s shifting strategy and his views on German generals as the disaster of Stalingrad loomed. When he new he had only one or two weeks to live, Keitel left a gap in his memoirs and devoted his remaining days to what are perhaps the most significant, startling pages in this book, the story of the last eighteen days of the Third Reich.
[*] Helmut Lipfert: „The War Diary of Hauptmann Helmut Lipfert, JG 52 on the Russian Front„. Lipfert’s portrayal of his experiences in a JG 52 during WWII will stand as one of the truly classic chronicles of the Jagdwaffe over Russia. This book is a rare view into the air war over Russia, when Luftwaffe pilots accumulated incredible kill tallies while facing overwhelming odds against Russian pilots thrown against them in mass assaults.
[*] Robert Eyssen: „HSK Komet: Kaperfahrt auf allen Meeren„. The skipper of the German raider Komet describes of what appeared to be one of the most amazing sea journeys of World War II – the voyage of HSK Komet from Gydnia via Norway and the Soviet Artic to the Pacific Ocean. Roaming with his ship off Australia, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Nauru Island, the Kerguelens in the Indian Ocean and even briefly visited Antartica, the HSk Komet returned to France in November 1941.
[*] Peter P. Wegener: „The Peenemünde Wind Tunnels: A Personal Memoir„. In 1943, on orders from the German Air Ministry, young physicist Peter P. Wegener left the Russian front and reported to the Baltic village of Peenemünde. His assignment was to work at the supersonic wind tunnels of the rocket laboratories of the German Army. Here Wernher von Braun led a team that developed the V-2, the world’s first large rocket-powered guided missile, and laid much of the groundwork for postwar rocket development. In this fascinating book, Wegener recounts his experiences during Hitler’s time, World War II, and his years at Peenemünde. He tells how he was working one night in August 1943 when the Allies bombed the laboratories, but left the wind tunnels undamaged. The tunnels were moved to Bavaria, and Wegener was ordered to follow in 1944. After the war, the tunnels were moved again–this time to the United States, accompanied by the author and other German scientists. Shortly before the end of the war, Wegener visited Germany’s underground V-2 production plant to retrieve archival material on aerodynamics that had been stored in caves for safekeeping. He describes the appalling history of the concentration camps where SS guards watched over inmates who toiled underground in inhuman conditions and often did not survive.
[*] Friedrich Wilhelm von Mellenthin: „Panzer Battles: A Study of the Employment of Armor in the Second World War„. Based on his experiences in World War II as an officer of the General Staff, General Wilhlem von Mellenthin took part in some of the greatest campaigns in Africa, Russia, and the West, and came into contact with many of Germany’s outstanding soldiers.
[*] Werner Volkner: „Many Rivers I Crossed„. Superb memoir of a Waffen-SS Soldier who joined the 3rd SS-Panzer-Division „Totenkopf” during 1942 and saw combat action at Kharkov and the world’s largest tank battle at Kursk, where his division fought against superior number of Russian divisions. Shortly after Kursk he was wounded, but later returned to fight as part of a battle group. When the war ended he spent three and a half years in various POW camps in Germany, Belgium and finally England and was released in 1948.
[*] Hans Schmidt: „SS-Panzergrenadier: A True Story of World War II„. Schmidt at the young age of 16 was a Hitler Youth leader and decided to enroll in the Waffen-SS in 1944. He probably belonged to the last batch of recruits to experience the extremely tough but excellent regular training of this elite force, and therefore Schmidt and his comrades fought with such discipline to the bitter end. Schmidt’s first combat assignment was in December of 1944 in the First SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte and arrived in the Ardennes forest at the very beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. At the conclusion of that battle most of his comrades were dead and he in the hospital. Heavy fighting in Hungary followed and he ended the war in brutal combat in Austria. At war’s end he voluntarily went into U.S. captivity and tells of his firsthand experiences in the death by starvation and neglect of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers. Schmidt through solid determination was able to get out of the camp and with the aid of some U.S. soldiers able to reach his home ….
[*] Erich Priebke: „Autobiographie – Vae Victis: Wehe den Besiegten„. The autobiography of a former SS-Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke, who served in the 16.SS Pnz.Gren.Division „Reichsführer SS”. He participated in the massacres at the Ardeatine caves in Rome in Italy on March 24, 1944. 335 Italian civilians were killed there as revenge after a partisan group had killed 33 German soldiers. Priebke was one of those who stood responsible for this mass execution. After the Nazis were defeated, he got help from ODESSA to flee to Argentina where he lived for over fifty years. Sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1997, Erich Priebke is today the oldest prisoner in Europe. He dedicates more than two hundred pages in his autobiography to his pre-war and war years.
[*] Horst Fuchs Richardson & Dennis Showalter (Eds.): „SIEG HEIL! War Letters of Tank Gunner Karl Fuchs, 1937-1941„. These are the letters of an ordinary German soldier who was convinced that he was helping his country toward a glorious future. Mingling enthusiastic expressions of loyalty to the Fuehrer and the Fatherland with messages of love for his family and requests for necessities from home, these letters give a rare glimpse of a youth typical of his time. Karl Fuchs was killed in action in Russia in autumn 1941.
[*] Bruno Manz: „A Mind In Prison – The Memoir of a Son and Soldier of the Third Reich„. Now a physicist and U.S. citizen, Bruno Manz was the son of an anti-Semitic father whom he loved. Though his early education was dominated by one teacher who resisted the Nazification of the classroom, Manz entered the Hitler Youth and recounts how he was shaped by Nazi tales of a Jewish conspiracy against Germany. Shortly after World War II began, Manz joined the Luftwaffe and became a ground support soldier stationed in northern Finland. After hand-to-hand fighting with the Soviets during the withdrawal to Norway late in the war, Manz was among those who surrendered to the British in 1945. Emaciated and torn with guilt, Manz survived, returned to his home town in northwestern Germany and eventually became a university student, emigrating to USA in 1957.
[*] Hans Werner Woltersdorf: „Gods of War: Memoir of a German Soldier„. This is an engaging memoir of a German soldier in WWII which reads like a novel. Joining the Waffen-SS at seventeen because the line was shorter than the other divisions, he became a lieutenant in the Das Reich Division. Fighting on the Eastern Front, his big battle was at Zhitomir, occupied by the Axis in August 1941, and retaken by the Soviets on December 31, 1943. Here he was wounded and eventually lost a leg. Seventeen years after the war, he revisits the French countryside where he had been during the war, adding his mature wisdom and a philosophical perspective to the vividness of his fighting memories. With the British and US occupying forces, all Waffen-SS were sought as war criminals. He changed his name, he ran and evaded, but was finally captured and taken to a prison camp where he was interrogated daily.
[*] Fritz Hahl: „Mit „Westland” im Osten„. Autobiography of a top-notch company commander in the SS regiment „Westland” in the European SS armored Division „Wiking”.
[*] General Frido von Senger und Etterlin: „Neither Fear nor Hope: The Wartime Memoirs of the German Defender of Cassino„. This is an authoritative analysis of the campaigns in the European and Mediterranean theaters where General Frido von Senger und Etterlin fought, as well as a poignant expression of the antithesis between his duty as a professional soldier and his personal aversion to Adolf Hitler. Absorbing because of its excellent military accounts, this memoir also reveals the tension existing in many German officers between their official duty and personal morality. A cultured and intelligent man and at the same time a cool and successful field commander, von Senger fought tenaciously, without fear, but also without hope.
[*] General Adolf Galland: „The First and the Last„. Of all the stories of the air war from the German side, this is the most authoritative, and is likely to remain so. It is also a story of absorbing interest, for Galland took part in many of the most important air battles in the West, including the Battle of Britain, the escape of the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, and the defense of the Reich against British and US bombing. His comments on them show that his own theories on the role of the Luftwaffe were very much in advance of those of his leaders.
[*] Eduard Bodenmüller: „Diary of a Tank Gunner: In the Panzer Regiment of the Brandenburg Panzergrenadier Division, February 1945„. A vivid, gripping, and detailed account of the author’s experiences during the last days of the war in this division, fighting against the Russians near Lodz, and who won a German Cross in Gold for stopping several Russian tanks and slowing the invasion.
[*] Helmut Altner: „Berlin Dance of Death„. A seventeen-year-old German conscript describes his desperate and hopeless experiences in the defense of Berlin in the spring of 1945, the fighting in the sectors of the city and the subways, his escape from capture several times, the attempt to break out to the West, and his final capture.
[*] Konstantin Hierl: „Gedanken hinter Stacheldraht„. A memoir of Konstantin Hierl, the Head of the Reichsarbeitsdienst and one of those people who belonged to Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. When the Hitler came to power, he named Hierl as the State Secretary for Labor Service, a Reich Labor Leader in 1935, a Reichsleiter in 1936, and a Reichsminister in 1943. On February 24, 1945, he was awarded the German Order, the highest decoration that the NSDAP Party could bestow on an individual, for his services to the Reich. Hierl eventually survived World War II, was tried and found guilty of „major offenses” after the war, and spent five years in a labour camp. He died in 1955.
[*] Artur Axmann: „Das kann doch nicht das Ende sein„. The last Reichsjugendführer of the Hitlerjugend (Aug. 1940 – May 1945) recalls his time in Nazi Germany. In August 1940 he succeeded Baldur von Schirach as Reich Youth Leader of the Nazi Party. In 1941, he was severely wounded on the Eastern Front, losing an arm. During Hitler’s last days, Axmann was among those present in the Führerbunker, making his escape from Berlin at the end of April 1945.
[*] Johannes Steinhoff: „The Final Hours: The Luftwaffe Plot Against Göring„. The author was colonel in the Luftwaffe and helped devise a plot to depose Göring, citing his military incompetence and technical dilettantism, his inability to stop Allied bombing, his refusal to deploy the Me-262, his denouncing of his pilots as cowards, and other failures in the context of the July 20 plot and the onslaught of the Allies after Normandy. He dictated this memoir in 1945 while recovering from burns in the crash of his Me-262.
[*] Albert Speer: „Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs by Albert Speer„. From 1946 to 1966, while serving the prison sentence handed down from the Nuremburg War Crimes tribunal, Albert Speer penned 1,200 manuscript pages of personal memoirs. Titled Erinnerungen („Recollections”) upon their 1969 publication in German, Speer’s critically acclaimed personal history was translated into English and published one year later as Inside the Third Reich. Long after their initial publication, Speer’s memoir continues to provide one of the most detailed and fascinating portrayals of life within Hitler’s inner circles, the rise and fall of the third German empire, and of Hitler himself. Speer chronicles his entire life, but the majority of Inside the Third Reich focuses on the years between 1933 and 1945, when Speer figured prominently in Hitler’s government and the German war effort as Inspector General of Buildings for the Renovation of the Federal Capital and later as Minister of Arms and Munitions. Speer’s recollections of both duties foreground the impossibility of reconciling Hitler’s idealistic, imperialistic ambitions with both architectural and military reality.
[*] Walter Schellenberg: „The Labyrinth: Memoirs of Walter Schellenberg, Hitler’s Chief of Counterintelligence„. A chilling memoir by the head of Hitler’s Foreign Intelligence Service-the only SS-man to describe the inner workings of the Nazi bureaucracy. This unique account of Hitler’s corrupt regime illuminates more vividly than any other the deepening atmosphere of terror and unreality in which the Nazi leadership lived as the war progressed. Schellenberg recounts with firsthand knowledge the motivations and machinations surrounding the Nazi Army’s every move in Poland, Austria, and Russia. But this remarkable inside account is perhaps most memorable for its riveting portraits of Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Heinrich Mueller, Ernst Kaltenbrunner-men whom Schellenberg calls, with stunning lack of irony,”Hitler’s willing executioners.”
[*] Gerhard Engel: „At The Heart Of The Reich: The Secret Diary of Hitler’s Army Adjudant„. The first-hand account of an army aide at Hitler’s side from 1938 to 1943, covering the decision-making process behind crucial military actions including the annexation of Austria, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the war in the East, with unique material on intrigues of Hitler’s inner circle and his casual conversations with Halder, Guderian and Brauchtisch.
[*] Günther Bloemertz: „Heaven Next Stop: A Luftwaffe Fighter Pilot At War„. First published in 1953, this is the vivid personal story of a German fighter pilot set in the latter years of the war. The author was one of the legendary „Abbeville Boys’ of Jagdgeschwader 26 who flew Focke-Wulf FW190 day fighters from their base in Northern France against intruding RAF fighters and USAAF bombers, vividly describing the almost daily duels with Spitfires and Flying Fortresses both on the ground and in the stratosphere.
[*] Bernhard Averbeck: „Panzerjäger: Tank Hunter„. This slim volume is the as-told-to memoirs of German World War II veteran Averbeck, who served three years with Wehrmacht antitank units, receiving three medals and two wounds, all before his twenty-first birthday. They leave us wanting more about the special technical and tactical aspects of the German tank-hunters’ war, for Germany’s antitank efforts were a very large factor in the Wehrmacht’s prolonged resistance to overwhelming odds. Still, they afford an enjoyable, somewhat naive, but probably honest self-portrait of a young man going through the greatest mincing machine in the history of modern war, enjoying good luck when it came his way, missing lost comrades, scrounging minor luxuries, and emerging as anything but a „willing executioner” for anybody.
[*] Helmut Jung: „But Not for the Führer„. The author was just 16 when he was drafted in 1943 and spent the entire time fighting on the East Front against the Red Army. He was a Pionier in the 3rd Regiment of the 7th Panzer-Division and fought around Kharkov. Trained as a sharpshooter he gives a good account of the German sniper training. by the end of the war his company was involved in the destruction of the German rocket base Peenemünde before it fell into enemy hands.
[*] Rudi Stiebritz: „Pawn of War„. An idealistic young engineering graduate, torn from his dream career before it could begin to join the German army, finds himself assigned to the Russian front where he becomes aware of a strange affinity with the enemy. RUDI STIEBRITZ was born 22.3.1923 in Jena, Germany, the youngest child in a family of six girls and three boys. After graduating as a structural engineer (1942), Rudi was conscripted immediately to fight with the German forces on the Russian front. The inhumanity of the war, and his subsequent years as a Russian POW had a profound effect on this author’s philosophy of life and led to his Buddhist persuasion. After repatriation, Rudi found life intolerable in East Germany under the communist regime, and applied to emigrate to Australia. Accepted, he and his wife arrived there in 1955, only to find that his engineering qualifications were not recognised in his new country. Undeterred, he took up bricklaying, and later worked in architects’ offices in Adelaide, Gold Coast and Sydney. A car accident in 1963 severely impaired his vision so the Stiebritzes bought a dairy farm near Beaudesert which they worked successfully for some years. In 1969 they turned to buying, restoring and reselling old homes, and in 1975 Rudi undertook a woodworking course for the blind, creating artifacts which, by wearing two pairs of spectacles one over the other on the good eye, he managed to decorate with folk art motifs. Using this ‘double glasses’ technique for the good eye, he also manages word processing successfully. The folk art led him to painting, and in the past decade he has had works included in several exhibitions. He undertook a creative writing course with Access Arts in 1996; his course tutor became his collaborator on his war memoirs Pawn of War. Recently Rudi has had multiple heart bypass surgery but still finds the time and energy to supervise a sheltered workshop for SWARA; to undertake tertiary course in Sanskrit; and to prepare a dictionary of Sanskrit terms that apply to Buddhist teachings.
[*] Claus Sellier: „Walking Away from the Third Reich: A Teenager in Hitler’s Army„. Claus Sellier was born in Germany and joined the German army in 1942, where he served in the 79th Mountain Artillery Regiment … In 1941, the brutal war raged in its third year, but from an aristocratic boy’s school, it seemed like an exciting time for 17-year-old Sellier and his friends. They lived in the country that, by all indications, was winning the war. Newspaper headlines told of the latest victories, and pictured proud Adolf Hitler pinning medals on war heros. Sellier and his classmates didn’t see this as propaganda, and swelled with pride. Typical of any teenage boy, Sellier’s fears revolved around the fact that he might miss out on the thrill of victory and glory of being a soldier. When draft cards arrived, the boys hollered for joy. Sellier was thrilled at the thought at being a decorated war hero. The future seemed bright, not to mention that he would escape final exams. The reality of being a soldier would nearly devastate Sellier. He was thrown into punishing and life-threatening situations during some of the most extreme battles in Eastern Europe. With terrible weather, the constant threat of starvation and inferior equipment, the odds were against him. Yet somehow, through the harsh conditions and brutality that he would experience, Sellier would find himself a hero in a losing battle.
[*] Hans Rohr: „Kriegstagebuch eines Gebirgsjäger„; A 516-page long memoires by Hauptmann Hans Rohr from Austrian Carinthia, describing his campaigns with the 3rd Gebirgs-Division in Poland, Norway (Narvik, Kirkenes, Petsamo & Murmansk) and Italy ….
[*] Armin Scheiderbauer: „Das Abenteuer meiner Jugend. Als Infanterist in Rußland 1941 – 1947„. Armin Scheiderbauer was born in 1924, the son of an evangelical pastor. After attending schools in Thuringia, and Stockerau, he was called up in August 1941. He served with distinction on the Eastern Front until 1945, with 252nd Infantry Division, reached the rank of Oberleutnant, was wounded numerous times, and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class and close combat clasp. He was wounded and captured by the Red Army in March 1945, returning home from USSR in late September 1947.
[*] Walter A. Schwarz: „Generalmajor a.D. Alois Windisch: Ein Soldatenleben (1892 – 1958); Mt. Meletta – Narvik„. The biography of one of Austria’s most decorated soldier of World War II – Generalmajor a.D. Alois Windisch. Windisch started his spectacular World War II career by winning the Ritterkreuz for his successful defence of Norwegian port og Narvik as the Commanding Officer of the 139th Gebirgsjäger-Regiment. Served with the 3rd Gebirgs-Division on the Eismeerfront (Murmansk – Petsamo) until 1943 when he was named for the commander 383rd Grenadier Regiment of the 373rd German-Croatian Legionary Division, 292nd Infantry Division, 281st Sicherungs-Division and from october 1944 onwards he was put in charge of the 264th Infantry Division on the Balkans. Captured in early May 1945, he remained in the Yugoslav captivity until 1953 ….
[*] Erhard Raus: „Panzer Operations: The Eastern Front Memoir of General Raus, 1941-1945„. A significant postwar memoir written by one of Germany’s best field commanders and a brilliant tank General. Raus entered the Soviet Union in June 1941 as commander of the 6th and 7th Panzer-Divisions. He quickly distinguished himself earning the Iron Cross for piercing the Stalin Line. During the Russian campaign he rose steadily through the ranks and was appointed the Army Group Command in early 1945. After the war Raus wrote a detailed memoir of his service in USSR.
[*] Alfred Novotny: „The Good Soldier: From Austrian Social Democracy to Communist Captivity with a Soldier of Panzer-Grenadier Division „Grossdeutschland”„. During World War II Alfred Novotny (born in Vienna 1924) served in the Reich Labor Corps, saw action at Dieppe and later was a soldier in the most elite division of the German Army, Panzer-Grenadier Division „Großdeutschland”.
[*] Otto Skorzeny: „My Commando Operations – The Memoirs of Hitler’s Most Daring Commando„. Otto Skorzeny’s fame began with the successful raid to free Benito Mussolini from the Gran Sasso, Italy in 1943. His elite commandos surprised Italian guards in a daring daytime raid. Hitler presented Skorzeny with the Knight’s Cross for this operation. Not only is this raid explained in minute detail, many of Skorzeny’s previously unknown operations in all European and Russian theatres of World War II are given in detailed accounts. Operation Griffin – the innovative use of German Kommandos dressed as American soldiers working behind enemy lines – during the Ardennes Offensive in 1944 is given in-depth coverage, as is Skorzeny’s rememberances on the Malmedy massacre. Skorzeny also offers his insights into the mysterious Rudolf Hess mission to England in May 1941, and offers a behind the scenes look at German and Russian secret military intelligence, and the workings of Canaris and Gehlen.
[*] Leo Raslag: „Umbruch Österreicher: Über die Hitlerjugend zur Fremdenlegion 1931 – 1957„. In his autobiography Leo Raslag describes his childhood during the Austrian First Republic, the Anschluss and his eventual drafting into the German army in autumn 1943. Released from American captivity in Italy in October 1946, he quickly became disillusioned with the new life in Austria, so he joined the French Foreign Legion in Algeria, where he served from 1951 to 1956. Furfilling his contract, he returned back to Austria to start with his new life.
[*] Lipej Kolenik: „Mali ljudje na veliki poti: spomini na predvojni, vojni in povojni cas na Koroskem„. In his memoires Lipej Kolenik, a Carinthian Slovene, describes the difficult and turmoil life for Slovenes in Austrian Carinthia before, during and after the war. There are included war chapters where he describes his service in the German Wehrmacht in Carinthia (Kärnten), Adriatisches Küstenland (Postumia) and Italy (Monte Cassino). During his military furlough in his native Klagenfurt in 1944, he decides to desert the much hated Wehrmacht and joines the Carinthian partisans, staying with them until the end of World War II.
[*] Franz A. P. Frisch: „Condemned to Live: A Panzer Artilleryman’s Five-Front War„. This gripping memoir of Franz A. P. Frisch portrays the nine-year life, culture and travails of an Austrian Panzer artilleryman who fought with his Panzer Artillery Battalion from Poland to France, then Russia and on to Sicily and Italy, where he was captured, and remained a private in rank.
[*] Peter Komovec: „Pastir, nemski vojak in ceski sin: Kranj – Hüttenberg – Jaslo – Olomouc 1942-1948„. A young Slovene private in the Wehrmacht vividly recalls his unit’s endless retreats from Western Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia and the final clashes on Moravia. He managed to evade the Soviet captivity with a help of Czech Resistence and afterwards decides to settle down with his Czech fiancee in a small village near Olomouc, only to be repatriated back to Yugoslavia (Slovenia) after the communist took over Czechoslovakia in 1948.
[*] Franc Lorber and Vladimir Cerjak with Mag. Marjan Tos: „Slovenci v tuji vojski„. This book brings vivid war recollections of two Slovene soldiers in the Wehrmacht during World War II. Vladimir Cerjak from Untersteiermak was mobilised in December 1942 and sent for training in Alsace (near Strasbourg) and the Netherlands (Leiden). In autumn 1943, the author’s howitzer battery was sent to the Russia (around Kirovgrad). Returned to the front after a brief furlough, saw further fierce engagements in Bessarabia (Moldavia) and Carpathian mountains, where he was wounded by a siper in June 1944 and sent to a hospital in Breslau. He moved with his hospital through Germany and Austria only to reach Slovenia at the end with one of the resettlement railway transports. Franc Lorber was working for the German State Railway (Deutsche Reichsbahn) in Potsdam near Berlin, when he was called into the German army in December 1942. Trained for a radio operator in Berlin, he was sent with his battalion via Gdansk, Oulu and Kemijärvi to Lapland (Finland). Remained on the frontline until 1944 and attended a Russian language course in Rovaniemi. Evacuated with his unit via Lakselv in 1944 to Trondheim and later Oslo from where his unit was shipped to Aarhus (Denmark). From there they were sent to the East Front on the Oder River. In the last days of the Third Reich he decided to desert the army and eventually reached Slovenia safely after many weeks of pleasant and unpleasant adventures.
[*] Konrad Rak: „Kolesje usode: V nemski uniformi od Moskve do Marseilla„. A memoir of a young Slovene soldier from Untersteiermark (Lower Styria) about his unforgettable experiences in the German Wehrmacht during World War II. After completing the basic military training in Pforzheim, his unit was deployed on the Russian Front, where he first saw action on 19th July 1943 in the area northwest of the City of Orel. Leaving for France via Coburg with a group of Slovene soldiers in October 1943, they arrived in a German military camp in Souge near Bordeaux. From autumn 1943 to summer 1944 he spent his time at various courses, field exercises and exploring the beauties of the Gironde Department. In June 1944, shortly after Allied invasion in Normandy his unit was moved via Toulouse and Carcassonne to the Southern France. After engaged with his unit in battles at Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, his unit was retreating through Central France towards the German border, experiencing on the way the deadly ambushes of the French partisans and Allied air attacks. They finally arrived in Alsace in October 1944, where he, along with another Slovene, defected to the Americans. Going through the misery and pain of the POW camps in Cherbourg, Chartres, Compiegne and the notorious PW 404 in Marseille, he finally arrived home in August 1945.
[*] Alojzij Zibert: „Pod Marijinim varstvom: Spomini Slovenca – nemskega vojaka na drugo svetovno vojno 1941-1945„. A heart-breaking memoires of Alojzij Zibert, a Slovene soldier in the German Army in World War II, about his almost two year long horrible experiences on the Eastern Front. After completing the RAD training in Austrian Tyrol and basic military training in Ingolstadt Alojzij Zibert’s unit was sent to the Russian Front. After going through numerous garrison and minor combat duties in the area of Novograd Volinskij (Zwiachel), Korosten and Golovka, he was sentenced to death by a military court for attempt to desert to the Russian partisans. Miracously saved during a Soviet air attack and in order to save his life he joined a new unit, a Panzer – Grenadier Regiment. In November 1943 he was sent to the front near Korosten. In the next couple of months he went through numerous hand-to-hand battles with the Soviets forces – Korosten – Novograd Volinskij – Kikovo – Mala & Velika Junacka – Ljubar – Proskurov (Hmelnickij) – Kamenec Podolskij – Hotin – the terrible massacre during the crossing of the Dnjester River – unforgettable Easter holidays spent with the German and Hungarian minorities in Transilvania – further deployment at Ternopol and Lvov – the Bug River – Sasovo – Przemislany – Hodorov – Stryj – brief Soviet captivity during which he was forced with several of his captured Alsatian comrades to attack a German bunker to prove his loyalty to the Soviet Union – until being heavily wounded and picked by German Soldiers. Sent to military hospitals in Ratibor, Michalovce and Gliwice, from where he was evacuated to Bad Woerishofen in Bavaria, where the end of the war finally caught him. Alojzij Zibert provides us with unforgettable description of the cruelty of the battles, the heavy losses they suffered, the relationship with native populations and the few peaceful moments, which were often short but essential in restoring the sanity of an ordinary soldier. Especially heart-breaking are his descriptions of the first post-war weeks in Bad Woerishofen, when many of the wifes, children or girlfriends came to visit their husbands or fiances, only too often to find them without both legs or arms.
FRANCE (Alsace & Lorena)
[*] Georges Starcky: „L’Alsacien. Le drame des Malgré – Nous„. A personal account of a young Alsatian soldier in the Wehrmacht who has learned to speak several Slavic languages during his odyssey on the East Front – Ukraine, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
[*] Erik Wallin: „Twilight of the Gods: A Swedish Waffen-SS Volunteers Experiences with the 11th SS-Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, Eastern Front 1944-45„. Erik Wallin belonged to an armored recconnaisance battalion of the 11th SS Panzergrenadier Division „Nordland” and in this book he recounts some of his most terrible battles during the last days of the Third Reich.
[*] Hendrik C. Verton: „Im Feuer der Ostfront. Ein niederländischer Freiwilliger an deutscher Seite im europäischen Schicksalskampf„. A barely 17-year old Dutch Waffen-SS soldier recalls in his memoires about the last months of the war in East Prussia, Silesia and Breslau Fortress and the German surrender.
[*] Jan Montyn: „A Lamb to Slaughter„. A Dutch citizen, Montyn joined the German Navy in 1943. In this autobiography, he describes his experiences as a sailor in the Baltic, as a soldier on the Eastern Front, the digging out the city of Dresden, and his postwar experiences in the French Foreign Legion and Dutch Army.
To continue ….