D Day Through German Eyes Book Review
Amazon describes the book:
This is the hidden side of D Day which has fascinated readers around the world.
Almost all accounts of D Day are told from the Allied perspective, with the emphasis on how German resistance was overcome on June 6th 1944. But what was it like to be a German soldier in the bunkers and gun emplacements of the Normandy coast, facing the onslaught of the mightiest seaborne invasion in history?
What motivated the German defenders, what were their thought processes – and how did they fight from one strong point to another, among the dunes and fields, on that first cataclysmic day? What were their experiences on facing the tanks, the flamethrowers and the devastating air superiority of the Allies?
This book sheds fascinating light on these questions, bringing together statements made by German survivors after the war, when time had allowed them to reflect on their state of mind, their actions and their choices of June 6th.
We see a perspective of D Day which deserves to be added to the historical record, in which ordinary German troops struggled to make sense of the onslaught that was facing them, and emerged stunned at the weaponry and sheer determination of the Allied soldiers. We see, too, how the Germans fought in the great coastal bunkers, perceived as impregnable fortresses, but in reality often becoming tombs for their crews.
Above all, we now have the unheard human voices of the individual German soldiers – the men who are so often portrayed as a faceless mass.
My Own Thoughts On This Book:
I have read many books and seen numerous films both factual archive and Hollywood fiction of the D Day Landings but this is the first version of the landings I have read from the German perspective.
What hit me was the actual mind set of the German defenders and the sheer scale of the invading forces they faced.
The interviews are from real soldiers 10 years after the landings and it is clear that they were still traumatised from these events. Many thought a posting to France was a cushy number compared to the Russian front, that was until the 6th June 1944.
Bitter at the loss of family in allied bombings of civilians in cities at home in Germany many of these soldiers believed the propaganda of how the English and Americans were portrayed.
Donald Trump may have made famous the phrase “Fake News” but these soldiers believed what they had been told about British and American culture which led to such a determined defence of their “Beloved France”. Germany was all about a United Europe but in a different way than today.
I was fascinated to see a second book by the same author which I have just downloaded and will review later.
About The Author:
The interviews were conducted by a military journalist Dieter Eckhertz in 1954 when he tracked down soldiers he had interviewed for German Military magazines in 1944 just prior to D Day. The effect is quite emotional when these soldiers have had time to reflect and the author was no longer constrained by propaganda reporting restrictions. The author died before he could complete his work and it was not until his grandson Holger Eckhertz came into possession of the raw material that the book was published in July 2015
Update Review Of Book 2
Amazon describes the book:
The first book of ‘D DAY – Through German Eyes’ fascinated readers around the world with its insight into the German experience of June 6th 1944. Now, Book Two contains a completely different set of astonishing German testimonies from the same archive.
These newly translated eyewitness statements by German veterans show the defenders to be determined but psychologically insecure, often deluded in their thinking and all too human in their shock at the onslaught which they faced.
These unique interviews with German soldiers are a historical treasure trove of new insights, heart-stopping combat stories and glimpses of wartime psychology which will absorb anyone with an interest in WW2.
“I am astonished by the immediacy of these new translations from the archive, and I believe that readers will find these accounts, if anything, even more compelling than the first book.
These statements reveal the ambiguous relationships which the German soldiers had with French civilians, especially women, and the way these relationships were destroyed on D Day itself. There are accounts from a Luftwaffe pilot who was one of the first to witness the Allied armada from the air, and stories from foot soldiers, military police and panzer crews who fought desperately to hold back the beach landings and airborne assaults.
The disturbing motivations of the German troops – political, personal and even religious – are presented with an honesty which sheds a radical new light on why the Germans fought so bitterly, so viciously, to keep control of what they perceived to be ‘their’ precious France.”
My Own Thoughts On This Book:
Having read both books now it is clear to me I had little understanding of the average German Soldiers view of defending a “United Europe” It s apparent there are differing views on whether this was as a protector or an exploiter.
There is a general theme of surprise and shock at the overwhelming firepower, equipment and aggression of the Allied invaders.
It should not have been surprising to me that over a 4 year period stable relationships grew between the French women and the German occupiers, however the reference to children from these relationships and subsequent deaths in Allied bombing does try the readers emotions.
I was very ignorant of the numbers of men from occupied countries who fought for Germany, what was even more surprising was the number of Russian soldiers who defected and formed large units on the Atlantic wall. It is worthy of further research to find out what sort of deal was done with the Russians to arrange for their handover as prisoners of war and subsequent treatment on return home to Russia.
Another interesting facet of the German mindset before D Day was the failed landing at Dieppe in 1942. This total Allied failure lured the Atlantic Wall garrisons into a false sense of security which many did not find out until too late on the 6th June 1944.
Overall I found both books compelling and informative of facts from a conflict which has shaped and influenced Europe to this day. Well worth the time to read.
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