Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949

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An uncommonly reflective and illuminating memoir by a German officer who served on virtually all fronts in Europe, Soldat offers a unique inside look at the German side of World War II and a world in ruins. As military history, Soldat is a rich vein of valuable ore, thanks to Siegfried Knappe's eyewitness participation in so many crucial and significant campaigns of the war--including the desperate defense of Berlin, where Knappe's role as operations officer to General Weidling had him shuttling between the lines...
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Overview

An uncommonly reflective and illuminating memoir by a German officer who served on virtually all fronts in Europe, Soldat offers a unique inside look at the German side of World War II and a world in ruins. As military history, Soldat is a rich vein of valuable ore, thanks to Siegfried Knappe's eyewitness participation in so many crucial and significant campaigns of the war--including the desperate defense of Berlin, where Knappe's role as operations officer to General Weidling had him shuttling between the lines of combat and Hitler's headquarters and bunker. Equally valuable and unusual are Knappe's descriptions of the early days of Operation Barbarosa and the experience of the frontline soldiers during the invasion of Russia. But these first-person accountings are not the book's only appeal. In Siegfried Knappe we find everyman--a dutiful soldier, a good and decent man. We recognize him as such--even though he unwittingly served a regime of unspeakable horror--because we see ourselves in him. And so we get a rare chance to understand how Hitler motivated a whole generation to carry out his monstrous schemes. And we learn at what cost, as we watch our man struggle to keep his bearings in life as Germany falls into rubble and his whole world collapses. After describing some five frightful years in a Soviet prison camp, Knappe's touching memoir ends with his deeply moving reunion with his wife and children, when he begins again to pick up the pieces of his life.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This engaging, introspective memoir, coauthored with Bruslaw ( The Business Writer's Handbook ) offers insight into the thinking and attitudes of a Wehrmacht officer. Knappe served 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. Though he had moral reservations about the Czech campaign and was troubled by his government's betrayal of its non-aggression pact with Russia, Knappe believed that his participation in combat was honorable and that the overriding purpose of the war was to correct the injustice perpetrated against Germany by the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Only after he was captured by Soviet troops in 1945 did he begin to understand that he had been an ``unthinking cog,'' accepting without question Hitler's might-makes-right philosophy. The memoir closes with an account of his release from a Soviet prison camp in 1949 and his reunion with his family in Leipzig. Knappe came to America in 1955 and is now a retired corporate executive in Ohio. Photos. (July)
Library Journal
Knappe's Wehrmacht career began in 1936. He participated in the final collapse of the Eastern Front, then spent more than four years as a Russian POW. Readers may doubt Knappe's insistence that he fought not for National Socialism but for Germany, but this mindset, common among his generation, cannot be dismissed out of hand as special pleading or selective memory. His memoir, based heavily on a wartime diary, shows a talented professional soldier and unreflective patriot who initially regarded Hitler as fulfilling legitimate German aspirations; by the time he began probing beneath the regime's surface, it was far too late to take action. Soldat makes a worthwhile companion to Hans von Luck's Panzer Commander ( LJ 10/15/89). Both works highlight an unresolved paradox: never did soldiers perform better in a worse cause than the men who served Adolf Hitler.-- D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs
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This uncommonly reflective and illuminating memoir of a German officer who served on virtually all fronts in Europe offers a unique inside view of the German side of World War II and of a world left in ruins. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780517588956
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/16/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Organizational Chart of the German Army
Glossary
The Witch's Caldron (1945) 1
Sunny Times (1936-1939) 69
The Road to Destruction (1939-1944) 127
Tomorrow Will Be Better (1945-1949) 289
Acknowledgments 369
Index 371
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