The Wolves of World War II: An East Prussian Soldier's Memoir of Combat and Captivity on the Eastern Front

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On September 25, 1944, Hitler attempted to shore up his faltering forces by creating the Volkssturm or People's Army. His new draft called into service all remaining able-bodied men, including those whose civilian labor had previously been deemed indispensable. Among the latter was an East Prussian farmer named Hans Thiel, who suddenly found himself on the Eastern front, fighting not to bring glory to the Nazi Party (for which he felt at best a troubled resignation) but to save his country from destruction. With the defeat of the Germans, Thiel was taken prisoner by the advancing Soviet forces.

From the closing days of World War II through three years of postwar captivity, this memoir details the experiences of Hans Thiel. Beginning with the realities of agrarian life during World War II, it then describes Thiel's conscription, his combat experiences, and his life as a postwar prisoner, held first by the Red Army and then transferred to camps under Polish control. The atrocities these prisoners suffered at the hands of their captors—as retaliation for German military war crimes—are discussed in detail.

The book includes a glossary (general terms), an appendix commenting on German agrarian policy under the Third Reich, a second appendix discussing the difficulties of tracing Thiel's route through the war-torn countryside, and a third appendix of placenames. Photographs and maps are also included.

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Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
stark, unflinchingly honest account
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786429714
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 191
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

The late Hans Thiel (1902-1974) was an East Prussian farmer who spent several years as a prisoner of war. Writer and translator Ivan Fehrenbach lives near Richmond, Virginia.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Foreword   John K. Roth     1
Introduction   Ivan Fehrenbach     7
A Picture of the Homefront     23
Total War     41
Russian Captivity     91
The Polish Masters     106
Editor's Epilogue     161
A Note on Agrarian Policy and Farm Life Under the Third Reich     163
Thiel's Sojourn     165
Placenames     171
Glossary     175
Index     179
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Phenomenal true life story that had my eyes glued to every page!

    Unbelievable story line that was actually written during the historic time period it took place. Around the same time the "Diary of Ann Frank" was being penned so was Hans Thiel's Diary. A totally new and fresh first hand perspective/account from the eyes of a farmer who lived thru pure hell after the devil took over his homeland. Hans Thiel's diary paints a different picture of everything that happened in WWII, and this diary reminded me of Schindler's List . Thiel was a German farmer who did'nt agree with Hitler, but had to survive. This is a plethera of info.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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