The German War A Nation Under Arms eBook ✓ German

The German War A Nation Under Arms eBook ✓ German

10 thoughts on “The German War A Nation Under Arms

  1. Matt Matt says:

    Germany suffered a lot during World War II As many as 5 million soldiers died As many as 700000 civilians were killed Thousands civilians died or were relocated during territorial dislocations at war’s end Hundreds of cities were bombed; millions of homes were lost These are all hard facts Also a fact the Germans started it This bears repeating The Germans started it On the surface this statement has all the ethical weight of a playground argument between five year olds But I think it is actually a profound moral condemnation It was the Germans who gobbled up Austria and Czechoslovakia It was Germany that invaded Poland and divvied it up with Stalin It was Germany that passed anti Semitic racial laws who euthanized the infirm and disabled and sent undesirables to concentration camps It was the Germans who murdered 6 million Jews and killed millions Soviet civilians It was the Germans who had a plan for world domination that would have made Cobra Commander envious Germany suffered; Germany reaped what they sowed This is the difficult balance that has to be struck when writing about the German experience of World War II To empathize with the human suffering while always recognizing that it did not occur in a vacuum Some modern historians have difficulty with this tension For instance in Jörg Friedrich’s The Fire The Bombing of Germany 1940 1945 the systematic air war conducted against Germany is presented outside its historical context There is never a mention about why the Allies might be bombing Germany Only that it occurred and it was horrible If you’d never read a single thing about World War II and only Friedrich’s book you’d be fully justified in labeling the Allies as the most terrible fiends to ever draw a breath The great accomplishment of Nicholas Stargardt’s The German War A Nation Under Arms 1939 1945 is that it perfectly walks this moral tightrope It manages to look at World War II from the perspective of individual Germans; it gives voice to their own trials and tribulations; but it never lets them off the hook Rather by the end Stargardt delivers a uietly powerful indictment on the “ordinary” German You will not find the mythical good German here the German ignorant of Hitler’s plans the German trying to swim against an evil tide Instead you find people who knew the parameters of their nation’s crimes who either participated in them or knew someone who did and who showed enough commitment to fight a six year war against incredible odds The German War begins in 1939 with the Wehrmacht poised to swarm across the Polish border Unlike the exuberance of 1914 the public response to Hitler’s invasion is chiefly anxiety The German public had been on a knife’s edge as their Fuhrer conducted a high stakes game of chicken with Great Britain and France Up until this point Hitler’s gambles had paid off bloodlessly especially with the infamous Munich Conference That streak ended with Poland This war according to Stargadt was unwelcome especially for those with memories of 1918 That public sentiment started to change when the Wehrmacht smashed Poland before Great Britain or France could lift a finger to stop them It changed even when the Sitzkrieg ended with Germany rumbling through the Low Countries toppling France and sending England racing back across the Channel Suddenly the Germans were the masters of Europe The German people were now part of a momentum that could only end with their total domination – or absolute ruin The German War is first and foremost a people’s history Stargardt’s main focus is on the ordinary soldiers and civilians who lived through this time He cares about things like rationing morale and the limits of endurance To that end he follows roughly twenty people throughout the course of the war and supplements their story arcs with many other personal accounts culled from diaries letters and postwar interviews You meet young soldiers in the heady early days of the war as they bask in the golden sunlight of occupied France; you follow civilians on the homefront as they spend their Christmas huddled around crackling radios listening to radio broadcasts from a besieged Stalingrad intercut with a rendition of Stille Nacht; and finally you view the hellish collapse as traitors are hanged from trees as young boys are dragooned into service to fight the Soviet steamroller and as Germany crumbles and burnsThe trick with a book like this is not simply doing primary source research It is in choosing the best primary sources to highlight Stargardt excels at this He has found compelling people to follow sometimes to their graves At times he manages to achieve an extraordinary level of intimacy For instance he devotes space to the love letters between Robert and his wife Mia Robert was stationed in East Prussia well away from the main action Bored and frustrated he tried to convince his wife to exchange dirty letters Robert took the lead with a saucy reminiscence in which he referred to his penis as both “my giver of joy” and “my little mouse” As in “my little mouse was shaking with joy” Later he tries to convince his wife to masturbate Yes folks I’m telling you there’s a passage on Nazi era proto sexting Stargardt also cleverly relies on the use of reports from the Sicherheitsdienst SD the Nazi’s security service The SD spent a lot of time taking the weather of the German populace They listened to what people were saying and then typed those observations into reports that were then filed Which is such a German thing to do It is of course impossible to know exactly how everyone felt about any one thing These reports however provide a pretty good way to generalize the German mood It also demonstrates some odd fixations which are the hallmark of the Nazi regime The SD was uite worried for instance about teenage sexual indiscretions in the absence of fathers who were away at the front Stargardt’s narrative maintains a rough overall chronology that takes you through the war years Certain chapters however are thematic in nature and allows Stargardt to explore certain issues at greater depth One of these chapters for example deals with the Holocaust This is one of the great uestions of World War II How much did the German nation know? In Stargardt’s telling they knew a lot He uotes letters from soldiers on the Eastern Front who witness the atrocities of the Einsatzgruppen Some of these eyewitnesses are shocked; most are able to overcome their revulsion due to their belief that this is for the greater good Despite the censors a lot of these men took pictures which they then sent home to be developed In this way rumors circulated on the homefront about Germany’s appalling crimes Stargardt also spends a good deal of time on the Allied air war against German cities Whatever else we might say about the air campaign its morality; its effectiveness it certainly served to cohere German resistance to the bitter end For a totalitarian state the Nazi Party proved surprisingly responsive to the needs of its people With great alacrity it provided assistance with food and shelter thereby binding people and Party A book like this – centered as it is on the experiences of ordinary people – runs the risk confusion The old forest verses the trees conundrum You need a proper framework to avoid getting lost in the details Stargardt does an excellent job accomplishing this by seamlessly transitioning between the Nazi leadership at the top and the man and woman on the street On one page Stargardt will explain how Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels kept pushing for Germany to engage in “total war”; on the next page he will show what that phrase actually meant for a typical German civilian On one page you will read about a Nazi Party measure to boost civilian confidence; on the next page you get to read an SD report on how that measure went over This is a book that’s going to appeal mainly to readers already invested in World War II It is not a battlefield history; indeed mention of battle is secondary to Stargardt’s story To that end it’s helpful to have a rough outline of the war’s ebb and flow before embarking on this volume The German War also does not attempt to be comprehensive There is almost no mention of North Africa or Italy with most of the action centered on Western Europe and the Eastern Soviet Front At the same time this doesn’t read like a book aimed solely at WWII enthusiasts It is well structured easy to follow and compellingly written It is not a World War II story but a human one Stargardt does not set out to demonize the German people He recognizes the difficult choices that each person had to make Imagine after all saying “no” to your country But he also makes clear that there is no easy separation between “German” and “Nazi” As though Nazis were an alien species This is important because history is cyclical As Stargardt notes in a concluding chapter there was a lot of German self pity in the years directly following the end of the war The Cold War gave a lot of Germans including ex Nazis the cover they needed to return to normal life often with bitterness at the way they’d been handled by the Allies It reuired a different German generation to take responsibility for the crimes they inflicted against the world Today in stark contrast to Japan – who refuses to acknowledge their atrocities in China – Germany vigorously assumes responsibility for the Holocaust Yet there are signs that is changing Watch for instance the German miniseries Generation War which peddles the notion that it was a few bad apples that spoiled the bunch The German War does a masterful job in exploring the experience of the German people – and also their culpability

  2. Maciek Maciek says:

    It may be good to have power based on arms but it is better and joyful to win and to keep the hearts of the people Joseph Goebbels speaking in Triumph of the WillWorld War 2 began with German invasion of Poland but in 1939 most Germans had a different view; they perceived the war as a defensive war forced upon them by Polish aggression and Allied transpiration against Germany Why did ordinary Germans see the war this way and what made them keep fighting even when it became apparent that all was lost?Nicholas Stargardt is an Australian historian who teaches modern European history at Oxford and The German War is a comprehensive look at various strata of German society and their approach to the war Stargardt has compiled an impressive amount of sources from private letters and diaries to newspaper articles and official speeches to present a compelling picture on how Germans perceived and reacted to the war both at home and at the front linesWith the harrowing memories of the First World War still being fresh in the minds of many it is no surprise that the mood was generally reluctant when it came to the prospect of engaging in another During the Munich crisis of 1938 almost the entire country was convinced that Germany simply could not win a war which would ultimately involve conflict with both Britain and France and that such war would lead their country to complete ruin and this was a belief shared both by civilians and the military elite Opposition to war was so great that many prominent figures of the German military conspired to storm the Reich Chancellery and kill Adolf Hitler Led by general major Hans Oster who would later become a major figure in the anti Nazi resistance they intended to stage a coup overthrow the Nazi government and restore the monarchy of the exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II In an ironic twist of history their desire to keep peace was shared by the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain who was anxious to preserve it even at the expense of another country By agreeing to Hitler's territorial claims in Czechoslovakia Chamberlain succeeded in delaying the war but also showed that the British and French were unlikely to act against Germany; after German troops occupied Prague in March 1939 and turned entire Czechoslovakia into a German protectorate the lack of response from western powers boosted Hitler's domestic popularity and destroyed any chance of a successful plot against himPoland was widely hated in Germany before September 1939 In the Weimar period newly reemerged Poland was perceived as an illegitimate creation of the Versailles Treaty a Saisonstaat state for a season crafted by the victors of the First World War at German expense American historian Gerhard Weinberg noted that irregardless of their political orientation no leading politicians in the Weimar republic recognized any benefit in the existence of a strong and independent Poland Instead official German foreign policy towards Poland was one of permanent hostility with revisionist hopes of partitioning Poland with the Soviet Union and returning to the borders of 1914 and involved trade and propaganda wars For centuries Polish people were seen by Germans as uneducated intellectually and culturally inferior unfit even for self rule; Weinberg notes that in the interwar years Polish people were perceived in Germany as an East European specie of cockroach German academics drew a line between high culture and complete barbarism at the Polish border and the term polnische wirtschaft Polish economy itself dating back to the Prussian partition where it was used as a stereotype of Polish inferiority and justification for the need of Prussian administration was commonly used as a description of any kind of hopeless mess Clandestine reports by the banned political parties found that Poland and the Poles were already enormously hated and that overwhelming majority of the population would support Hitler if he chose to act against Poland At the same time memories of 1918 were still very fresh and while most Germans believed that an invasion of Poland was justified few thought it was worth another war with Britain and France Furious at his nation for being chicken hearted in private Hitler continued to present himself as a champion for peace and protector of persecuted German minorities German propaganda blamed Poland for influencing British foreign policy conspiring to encircle a resurging Germany and prevent it from attaining proper glory that it deserved; German newspapers accused the Polish government of tolerating or even encouraging violent ethnic cleansing of ethnic Germans living in Poland As Hitler was publicly emphasizing his desire for peace the SS and the police apparatus under Reinhard Heydrich enlisted the help of ethnic Germans in Poland to stage border skirmishes and create a series of false flag attacks on German newspapers schools and cultural institutions Named after the head of the SS Operation Himmler culminated in an attack on a German radio station complete with a broadcast in Polish and corpses of killed prisoners dressed in Polish uniforms left to serve as undeniable proof of Polish provocation Flimsy as it was combined with intense propaganda and deeply rooted hate for Poland and Poles it worked as the Wehrmacht entered Poland Germans were convinced that they were returning fire in a war which was forced upon themAs Stargardt notes the German armies were ideologically primed to fight a culturally inferior and cowardly opponent; any resistance was met with utmost hostility since the Germans believed that whatever brutality they were capable of the Poles would exceed and stab them in the back at any possible occasion Where Stargardt succeeds is presenting how vastly different were the experiences shared by individual soldiers serving in the Wehrmacht Wilm Hosenfeld a Catholic was apalled by the scale of sheer violence against the Poles Although he believed that the Germans had a right to occupy Poland Hosenfeld grew increasingly isolated and detached finding comfort only in writing letters to his wife Hosenfeld would later help to rescue several Jews and Polish people including the famous pianist Władysław Szpilman Another devout Catholic Heinrich Böll had a totally different experience Böll believed that he saw real hatred and fanaticism in the eyes of the Poles he encountered and was convinced that if not for the Wehrmacht not a single ethnic German would survive Many thought that this justified any action even killing civilian men women and children with great ferocity which the soldiers observed and photographed One German general Johannes Blaskowitz was so shocked by the reports of atrocities which reached him that he wrote to Hitler personally protesting the behavior of the SS and the administration as damaging to military morale Hitler dismissed his protests by saying that one cannot wage war with Salvation Army methodsWhile to many Germans Poland was an abomination and in the words of a German student Poles were infinitely alien and incomprehensible to us so that there is no way to reach thempeople whose life or death is a matter of indifference Hitler did not pay as much attention to Poland as did his many German contemporaries His real war aim were the vast and resource rich lands of European Russia which he sought to conuer and colonize with Germans driving the asiatic hordes back behind the Ural mountains As the Wehrmacht pushed further east the environment and conditions became inhospitable and the war much brutal Some soldiers viewed the war as a spiritual experience recognizing with distaste their own transformation into brutal and harsh beings; one soldier wrote home that the war was comparable to the Apocalypse and brought out a new and true image of humanityafter we have followed a false and increasingly distorting image of humanity for so many hundreds of yearsSeeing the terrible destruction left behind by the retreating Red Army soldiers became convinced that the war must never come home to Germany and must be won decisively; both convinced Nazis and ordinary conscripts knew that they must do all in their possibility to stop the beasts from having even a possibility of coming to their fatherland interestingly enough the exact same approach was adopted by the Red Army as Stalin discovered that traditional patriotism love for family and the motherland boosted morale much better than communist slogans Most Germans did not share Hitler's Social Darwinist view of the war as a great racial struggle which the German race could either win or be completely wiped out by a stronger superior power; soldiers at the front and their families at home knew that the war had to be won to safeguard a future for their children As Stargardt argues they could not wish for Germany's defeat not because they identified the war with National Socialism but because they shared a deep sense of intergenerational responsibility which served as the strongest foundation for their patriotism One soldier wrote that he fought precisely because he was an anti Nazi he fought for Germany which only after defeat after the end of the Hitler period can exist againnever for the Third Reich Stargardt makes a solid argument that German war atrocities were widely known in Germany execution tourists took photos of brutal murder of Polish civilians and sent them home; soldiers wrote openly of the atrocities they either saw or committed Soldiers often wrote uite frankly about the mass killing of Jews even as censorship tightened; although taking photos was forbidden spectators routinely photographed mass executions and sent the photo rolls home to be developed As the tides of war turned and Germany found itself at war with Britain Russia and America all at once German propaganda began to describe the terrifying bombing of German cities as Jewish terror; the population was convinced that the bombing raids were retaliation for mass executions of Jews and were even afraid that the advancing allied armies will employ their very own Jewish Einsatzgruppen which would wage a bloody campaign of mass killings just as their own have done As the war neared its end the sense of guilt increasingly gave way to a sense of victimhood Since Germany in the Nazi period was a totalitarian society which unified the party with the state and demanded total obedience and trust in the Nazi leadership and the Fuhrer its people used precisely these factors to absolve themselves of any personal responsibility putting the blame precisely on those whom they were told to trust for leading them into a disastrous catastrophe The increasingly calamitous conditions of German civilians overshadowed any sense of responsibility for the suffering of German war victims and by the time the Allied occupation of post war Germany began German society was united again this time in rejecting any idea of collective guilt for many civilians the experience of defeat hunger mass death and expulsion made the first post war years far far worse than anything they have experienced during the war itself In the last part of the book Stargardt shows a truly fascinating and disturbing picture of a society emotionally detaching itself from its very recent past; theologians decrying the allied bombing of German cities while dismissing facts that it was Germany which waged war despairing over the millions of expelled Germans while staying silent about millions killed to make space for German settlers Worse still allied surveyors discovered that not all wartime beliefs disappeared after the war in 1945 Jewish War was still a popular explanation for American intervention forgetting that it was Hitler who declared war on America after the Japanese army destroyed Pearl Harbor and that the German defeat was best explained by the power of the World Jewry Even under Allied occupation in August 1945 interviewers found that 37% of the respondents thought that physical extermination of Poles Jews and other non Aryans was necessary to maintain security for Germany confirming that most Germans were genuinely convinced that they fought a legitimate and defensive war In August 1947 two full years after the end of the war American investigators conducted another poll in which 55% of the respondents thought that National Socialism was a good idea which was carried out badly The level of support was even higher among those who were under 30 had at least a high school education were Protestants lived in Hesse and West Berlin the figures reached 60 68% To emphasize this was a time when openly endorsing National Socialism was still a potentially capital offense The German War A Nation Under Arms is an excellent book for those who wish to understand how Germans perceived and reacted to the war Stargardt has done great research and has written a compelling account on how both civilians and soldiers lived and what they thought during the Third Reich Although I expected history composed less of personal accounts and of a scholarly study of propaganda and its impact on the German populace I have thoroughly enjoyed the book from beginning to end and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing the German perspective to the war an how it has developed and changed throughout and after it

  3. Jill Hutchinson Jill Hutchinson says:

    Although this book gives some interesting and in depth information about the major battles of WWII the main purpose of the author is to explain why the German volk continued to fight to the doors of the German Chancellery as Berlin was being destroyed around them The war was lost and yet 60 year old men and 14 year old boys took up arms and sacrificed themselves for the homeland while the Nazi leadership huddled in the bunker below them As one of my GR friends said in his review What were the Germans thinking?The Wiemar Republic had been a disaster and when Hitler grabbed power he approached society in a manner that appealed to the citizenshomeland blood ties Aryan supremacy exorcism of the defeat of WWI the stab in the back belief and one nationone people And he had the perfect man to instill and reinvigorate these principles and doctrines his minister and master of propaganda Joseph Goebbels The public was inundated with the Nazi philosophies through different mediums and soon became of one mind Deutschland Uber Alles As the Allies approached Germany the propaganda changed to sacrifice and fight to the last man The people obeyedAs the final solution continued and the smoke continued to rise from the crematoriums the public basically ignored what was really happening and continued to hate the Jews and abandon them from society citizenship and life When the horrors of the death camps were clearly revealed at the end of the war the average German declared that they had no responsibility and excused themselves from guilt They insisted that it was not they who had responsibility for war leadership and politicsThe book is filled with memoirs diaries letters etc from soldiers and families who suffered and died through the last years of the defeat and provides some insight into German thought about the war and their encroaching feeling of being victimizedSo does this history really tell us what the Germans were thinking and how they justified their actions as their world was crumbling around them? Read this excellent book and then decide Highly recommended

  4. Tim Tim says:

    The second world war from a German perspective in the form of letters and diary entries from ordinary people The overriding impression is how eagerly an entire civilised nation become so stupid self righteous and brainwashed Even the individuals who weren't Nazis bought the idea that Germany was fighting a defensive war forced on them by international Jewry or colonial ambition on the part of the British What was depressing that even towards the end of the war these people were still deluding themselves with sentimental notions and visions of the German soldier as some kind of paragon of honour and virtue It was interesting to discover many Germans believed the bombing raids on German cities were revenge for Germany's annihilation of the Jews They clung on to the idea that Jews were pulling the world's strings until the very end Probably I've read too many accounts of Jewish suffering to feel any sympathy for German individuals during the war and I felt little for any of the people in this book When the war is over the tendency seems to be to play the victim Like Austria announcing itself as the first victim of Nazi repression If there's any proof that Austrians on the whole were any less psychotically racist than the Germans I've not seen it Much is made of the bombing of Dresden but it should be remembered that even when it was clear Germany had lost the war they not only carried on fighting to the death but sent children to fight and as a result tens of thousands of allied soldiers were being needlessly slaughtered every month Also that the Nazis were boasting of a secret weapon which no doubt was feared to be the atomic bomb Nor that even at this late date the majority of Germans were still very much behind Hitler It's to the credit of Germans that later generations have taken on board culpability unlike the generations featured in this book who remained a deluded vainglorious shameful bunch who serve to personify the evils innate in mindless chest beating nationalism An interesting book rather than a must read for me

  5. Jonny Jonny says:

    One of those oft asked but never answered uestions Just what the hell were the Germans thinking?uite often it would appear the answer would appear to be why us? Nicholas Stargardt attempts to puncture the myth of a nation of Good Germans victimised as bystanders in a war they neither wanted not supported through the examination of the experiences of German civilians and members of the military often using the experiences of families both at home and on the front lineThe book is eminently accessible very readable and makes no bones that at least knowledge of if not actual participation in war crimes was widespread especially in the East and that this knowledge filtered back to the homefront where people were pooling snippets of knowledge about the persecution of the Jews to build an incomplete inaccurate only in the actual details picture of the Final Solution Indeed by 1943 the building intensity of the British bombing campaign was blamed on Anglo Jewish revenge for German Jewish policy an awful lot of things seem to be the fault of the British tooThe effect and subtlety of propaganda is also finely balanced in determining how the attitudes of the population could be manipulated and freuent examination of SD reports into public attitudes and how they have reacted to Goebels propaganda pepper the bookThe final chapter with the post war period the failure of the various de Nazification programmes and the ridiculously rapid adoption of a cult of victimisation amongst the German populace often ignoring or turning on its head the actual treatment meted out by Germans the bombing war being a case in pointFinely balanced who'd have thought that the Gestapo balanced their investigations with examinations of the motives and backgrounds of the purple they were investigating? this is an excellent 5 read One everyone ought to pick up

  6. Geevee Geevee says:

    A very accessible and interesting account of German life and lives at war It covers a number of topic areas that influenced or touched daily life including religion air raids propaganda and news theatre rationing industry foreignslave workers as well as hopes and dreams of people for the war and after It is by nature of scale and people's involvement Eastern Front focussed alongside the home front but does cover war in the west The extermination of Jews Poles Russians and others is covered and is very finely balanced when linked to how the German nation was told knew supported and accepted or not the war against Jewry I would have liked some further detail on areas such as experiences of the Bund Deutscher Mädel League of German Girls the Hitler Youth Volksturm Reich Labour Service and also how for instance the German Post Office and say air raid precautions fared and worked However this is not to detract from the book but shows the width of subjects touched and that volumes could be covered allowing for source material for this reader's appetitePhotographs are well presented and of good uality as are maps Notes and bibliography help the reader understand the source and offer further readingThe final chapter is illuminating in not only how some the correspondents and families fared but also how people in positions of authority ended up working in West and East German government offices I found it fascinating how many former Gestapo SS and SD men served in the West German Diplomatic Corps the judiciary and Finance ministry It also briefly covers the Victors' denazification programmes and how the German victim was emphasied by both East and WestRead alongside other histories by Richard J Evans Richard Burleigh and Roger Moorehouse plus books on the home front of Britain it adds considerable interest and understanding to both Germany at war and people in general

  7. Mikey B. Mikey B. says:

    This is a very thorough examination of 1939 45 through German eyes It takes us from the exultation of the conuering of France to the abyss of 1944 45The author makes no excuses for this genocidal and racist regime The German people supported the war so after their traditional enemy France was subdued in June of 1940Several issues stand out in this bookFrom the letters written from Poland and then from the Soviet Union there could be little doubt that the vast majority of the German populace knew that their soldiers were complicit in mass atrocities in eastern EuropePage 233 my book Throughout the summer and autumn of 1941 there were many German eyewitnesses and photographic evidence flooded back to Germany spectators at mass executions routinely snapped pictures including images of each other photographing the sceneThe Red Army found thousands of images of killing sites in the uniform pockets of German prisoners and dead kept next to pictures of their families wives and childrenThe German people also saw the war as an avenge reversal for 1918 For myriad reasons they did not feel defeated in 1918 they felt betrayed and humiliatedPage 77 Holding out against the “spirit of November 1918” featured as a measure of their own salvation To fail for a second time would prove that Germany was not God’s chosen nation This national Protestant version of German redemption was just a variant in an anti liberal and anti democratic culture which strove to overcome the German disaster of 1918 In the early 1920’s German culture had been awash with predictions of post war decay decline and degeneration These dire predictions had been overturned by the “national rebirth” in 1933They saw the invasion and defeat of France and then the attack on the Soviet Union as inevitable – as a task to be done now so as to avoid passing the “problem” to future generationsThe Nazi leadership particularly Goebbels were masters of propaganda For example the Katyn massacre by the NKVD Soviet secret police was blamed on the Jewish Bolsheviks and gave a foretaste of what could happen if Soviet troops and Jewry ever reached Germany Also Katyn was used successfully to divide the Allies creating a gulf between the Soviet Union and BritainUSAs mentioned the German populace while avoiding direct discussion of the Final Solution was aware of what was happening Hitler’s prophecy speech of January 1939 in which he stated that a new world war would lead not to the destruction of the Germans but to the destruction of the Jews was used againPage 243 Hitler repeated his “prophecy” in his public speeches no less than four times in 1942 now using the unmistakable “Ausrottung” – extermination The Volkische Beobachter followed its’ masters voice on 27 of February 1942 screaming “The Jew will be exterminated”Page 244 The deportation to the death camps also involved too many different authorities for them ever to have been kept secret Whether they were soldiers observing the shootings railwaymen running the deportation trains or local government officials making sure that keys were handed over before their occupants left all these people passed their nuggets of knowledge into the general circulation of informationThe Germans were convinced of their racial superiority over other people In many ways Word War II was a race war for the German people to get what they felt was rightfully there’s Slavs Poles Russians Roma and especially Jews were seen as unworthy of life Poland Czechoslovakia and Ukraine were to be used as part of Germany’s colonial empire and settled by Germans The lands villages and homes were simply expropriated of their inhabitantsPage 138 A student volunteer reflected on her own reaction to watching the SS herd Polish villagers into a shed during one such eviction“Sympathy with these creatures? No at most I felt uietly appalled that such people exist people who are in their very being so infinitely alien and incomprehensible to us that there is no way to reach them For the first time in our lives people whose life or death is a matter of indifference”Page 207 by February 1942 Two million Soviet prisoners had perished in German custodyPage 299 At least 24 million people were worked to death in Germany itself following the military crisis of 1941 42Interestingly when Allied bombing called “terror bombing” started to destroy large tracts of German cities this was blamed on Jewish revenge for what had happened to them This pulverisation fitted well into German cultures obsession with a descent into the abyss This became a fixation of an apocalyptic struggle in 1944 45 War was viewed as an essential part of human naturePage 467 Lisa de Boor November1944 “The most miraculous stroke of fate that the German always brings his inner strength the power of his spirit to fruition when the trends of the outward world are most unfavourable”This outlook of struggle and survival contributed to avoiding the prime issue of responsibilityThe author has an excellent last chapter on after the war citing several religious leaders Protestant and Catholic revering the German soldier as being honourable and doing their heroic dutyThis book presents many aspects of the German War and how they were troubled by their own predicament of their sons husbands andor brothers dying or missing at the front their homes burnt or obliterated by Allied bombing – but also their obfuscation of what caused this the invasions of Poland Belgium Holland France the Soviet Union the millions of destitute foreign workers in their country the forced removal of German Jews from their homes – and the subseuent bidding for their belongings and housesThe author mentions that some were anti Nazis but they still supported the war which raises the uestion of how this was different from being a Nazi?This book is powerful indictment of Germany for this time period But one cannot but be impressed that today Germany is a wonderful example of a democratic country

  8. Susan Susan says:

    I have read many books about the Second World War including many about the Home Front However this really is something different – a look at how the German people experienced the war and how those from many viewpoints witnessed unfolding events This book takes us from 1939 and the outbreak of war to the total destruction of 1945 The author takes many different witnesses and uses letters and diaries from the time to help give us a clear picture of how people responded to events There are soldiers their wives girlfriends and parents Jewish Germans Jehovah’s Witnesses and people from every walk of life It is clear that most Germans like those people caught up in events in other countries did not want war – it is also clear that most blamed England for not accepting Hitler’s attempts to make peace As Hitler blustered about not wanting war while fearing that he would not get the chance to have military success after the humiliation of World War I then most people convinced themselves that war was forced upon them However while war was distant for most German people in the early days it was clear that disturbing events were being voiced While victory seemed easy and France fell Germany conuered Poland Denmark Holland Belgium Norway and the Netherlands Hitler continually offered Britain peace in his speeches and laid the responsibility for prolonging war at their door Meanwhile the Church reported on the murder of the handicapped those unwilling to fight were killed or sent to camps and rumours aboundedFor those who suggest that the Germans knew nothing about the Holocaust or the murder of the handicapped and others in their country it is clear that – even if many did not know the facts – letters returned to wives girlfriends and parents which were oddly un censored There were lots of reports from the front about the burning of villages the killings of Jews and civilians and much disuiet from many of the men involved Some tried to justify the massacres they had been involved in Gradually the men became brutalised and harder to shock They were involved in terrible events and wondered what they could report home safely Meanwhile there is much about the role of the Church in this times and the way they were outraged about some events but not others; most notably most not coming to the aid of the JewsThis book looks at the Russian front the starvation of those in the East the shock of bombs falling on Germany and finally the ‘total war’ as it became apparent that Germany was going to lose Again with those from the concentration camps being used to clear up the prisoners were actually visible to those living in the bombed out cities Many felt shame or realised that they would have to answer for what had happened Others poured scorn and blame on the pitiable people before them perhaps feeling a confusion of shame and outrage for the situation they found themselves in This is certainly a fascinating interesting and often moving read It helps explain the feelings of normal German people who started with the heady excitement of success and descended into the reality of fear loss death and collective guilt Abandoned by their leaders faced with the savage anger of an invading Russian army and besieged this really is a tragic tale of the many witnesses of war Although often uncomfortable reading I am glad that I read it and felt it gave many different perspectives to help you understand the experience of the average person This would make an excellent documentary series

  9. Numidica Numidica says:

    I chose this book hoping to get a better understanding of why the German people went to war and fought so desperately hard right to the end for what many of them thought at the time was a bad cause or at least a cause unlikely to succeed I learned a bit of the answer but certainly not as much as I was hoping to I lived in Germany for three years in the 1980's and a very close friend's wife is German; I have dealt with Germans on an ongoing basis for work for the last 25 years so I think I understand them a bit There is a uote from Goethe I have often felt a bitter sorrow at the thought of the German people which is so estimable in the individual and so wretched in the generality Germans really do fit the stereotype of being reliable punctual hard working and so on or they did in my experience And they are rule followers Hitler knew this and he used it to wreck Europe Germany included but this does not absolve the Germans of responsibility for the war and the book reveals this in the words of the people who lived through 1939 45Stargardt starts his account in 1939 with the invasion of Poland by the Wehrmacht but anyone wanting to learn the context must go back to the militarization of the Rhineland the Anschluss with Austria and finally the negotiated acuisition by Hitler of the Sudetenland followed by the occupation of the rump Czech lands Fortunately I recently finished a history of the Habsburg Empire which helped me understand the pre WW1 antecedents eg why there were German “colonies” in the Sudetenland Poland Hungary Romania and elsewhere Hitler leveraged the presence of these ethnic Germans to fabricate claims in the east but generally Hitler was fairly direct about his desire for Lebensraum and he forthrightly declared that might makes right and that he would eradicate Poles and later Russians to create new German states The author uses excerpts from hundreds of letters from ordinary Germans to show what they were thinking at the time and he weaves in data from German government polls and surveys conducted during the war to illustrate the national mood With few exceptions Stargardt does not cover battles in detail but he gives the flow of events context through the letters One thing it is easy to forget is that in 1939 the Great Depression was still had Germany firmly in its grip and countries’ poverty increased the further east one went So while Germans were astounded by the bounty they found in France “real butter real coffee” they were eually appalled by the conditions in which they found Russians living The letters reveal what historians have pointed out Stalin had so mistreated his people that Germans were often greeted as liberators – until the SS showed up to deal with rear area security There were at least two ways in which Hitler threw away any chance of victory in Russia first he started his invasion at least a month too late so that the Russian winter stopped the Wehrmacht before it could get to Moscow and second the harsh treatment murder of the Russians in the territories occupied by German forces meant the Wehrmacht was always hamstrung by the need to secure its rear areas against partisan attacks A third way he ensured defeat is that Hitler’s Armies were in no way prepared for the Russian winter or for the logistical challenges of supplying themselves over the thousand mile distances from the Reich to the front linesAt times one feels for the average German who perhaps did not even support Hitler and it is a fact that the majority of Germans did not vote for him for Chancellor in 1933 but felt duty bound to answer his call up notice and report for service in the Army But then a comment will emerge from a page of a letter about “the necessity to deal with the Jews or Poles or Russians” or even something explicitly worded about killing the lesser races and that sympathy collapses As the war went on Germans began to feel perhaps rightly that having mounted the tiger it was best to remain in the saddle than to try to get off But a few disagreed I chuckled at the story of a German veteran of the invasion of Poland and the Battle of France a grizzled sergeant who was sent to the Russian front As his unit made its way east this NCO talked to and German soldiers returning from the front who explained how bad it was Finally the sergeant said to himself “this is just too stupid” and he slipped away from his unit and headed west using his gruff laconic veteran NCO exterior to bluff his way all the way back to Germany He then boarded a train whose route came close to the Swiss border where he jumped the train crossed into Switzerland and turned himself in His answer to the Swiss interrogators as to why he deserted was simple “I saw no reason to die in Russia” He lived out the war in Switzerland and then returned to his farm in Austria where he lived and farmed for another sixty years unrepentant for deserting In the general population however a significant drop off in support for the Nazi Party did not come until 1945 when it was becoming clear that the war was lostDespite a handful of resistors like The White Rose group and the July 20th plotters the majority followed orders even when the orders included shooting civilians including children Feelings of shame for their actions finally began to emerge as the war ground on in the letters soldiers sent home to wives and sweethearts In fairness one must remember how the Nazis dealt with backsliders; in the US conscientious objectors during WW2 had the option to become medics; in Germany they were executed In the US Army in WW2 one 1 soldier was shot for desertion; in Germany at least 50000 deserters were shot and it is likely the number was higher So if one chose to follow one’s conscience death was likely to attend your steps as they say Germans also fought because they felt they were protecting their country from the Asiatic hordes and they had seen enough of how Stalin treated his own people to know how he would treat Germans But the reason the German Army survived the winter of 1941 42 in Russia was the inherent grit and sense of duty of common German soldiers even in the face of inadeuate food clothing and euipment After the failure to take Moscow and with the entry of the US into the war in December 1941 the war was effectively over as Charles de Gaulle declared on the day he learned that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor but Germany would not let it be over for three and a half years Some Germans were disgusted enough by the wanton killing of prisoners Jews and other marginalized groups to say so in their letters but a vanishingly small number were willing to act And even if the July 20 1944 plot to kill Hitler had succeeded it is likely that Himmler or Bormann would have taken charge uashed the plotters and the war would have gone onAnd so then the Holocaust This is the hardest thing to understand I must find a book to explain anti semitism to me because I don’t understand it A major finding in the contemporary letters by Stargardt and others is that Germans did know what was happening to the Jews; perhaps not in detail but they knew they were being killed exterminated not re settled as the Nazis claimed initially The letters reveal this knowledge over and over in lesser or greater detail and it was most clear in the last year of the war when many letters expressed the belief that Germany was being punished for what we did to the Jews It was not until years after the war in Richard von Weisacker’s famous speech of 1985 that a high official of Germany accepted full responsibility for what happened to the Jews whereas in the ten to twenty years following the war there were concerted efforts to conceal the extent of the collaboration of the people with their leaders in the Final Solution There were a small number of Germans during the war who refused to believe that “such things are really being done” but that was willful ignorance They knewAs the war entered its last year the German Army finally felt the massive resources of the Allies begin to crush them There has been a lot of nonsense written about German “miracle weapons” like the V2 and jet fighters and Tiger tanks Did the Germans have some very high uality weapons? Yes but such weapons are useless without the fuel to run them the pilots to fly them or ability to manufacture them in significant numbers Exempli gratia the Germans built 2000 Tiger Tanks in WW2; but the Russians built 64000 T 34 tanks and the US built 50000 Sherman tanks The German fighters were handily outclassed by American P 51 fighters in both uality and numbers Virtually every U boat which left harbor after 1943 was destroyed because Germany had lost its surface navy and the sheer numbers of Allied vessels made each U boat sortie a suicide mission As one German arms ministry director said by January 1945 the German effort against the Allies was not really a war it was an imitation of a war The Germans never developed an arms industry eual to the task that Hitler had set the nation to performBy the way in a truly impartial post war court not only would Nazis have gone to the gallows but Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris and Churchill would have been convicted of war crimes for at least the bombing of Dresden if not many other cities In the case of Dresden they knew knew for certain that there was no military reason for destroying that city Even Churchill called it a terror bombing Nothing justifies the incineration of children not even when the parents of those children may have incinerated Jews or others If killing children is not a crime then nothing is a crime It is a sad fact that than 50% of all civilian deaths from bombing in Germany occurred in the last six months of the war when everyone knew that Germany was already defeatedOne of the things that resonated with me is the degree to which many educated German soldiers fell back on literature and poetry as a key spiritual support to get them through whatever horrendous experience they found themselves in Many many soldiers remembered poetry from Holderlin uotes from Goethe arias from Mozart to help them cope Sadly this love of culture did not seem to increase their compassion or empathy or at least not enoughSo why did the Germans fight for six long years? In the beginning because Hitler told them to and most people initially had confidence in Hitler who up until 1941 had always been a successful gambler Later they fought because they knew they had to defeat Russia to prevent the destruction of Germany via retribution And in some ways they fought because it became a habit after years of war Such a sad vicious circle and such disgusting ringmasters in the form of the Nazi leadership The only analog in American history is the Civil War in which the South fought for a cause which was demonstrably wrong and eually unlikely to succeed – perhaps that is a starting point for Americans trying to understand the German point of view

  10. Paul Paul says:

    The German War – What the Germans Really KnewSince 1945 many books have been written about Germany and the action of its people’s during the Second World War what we have not had in that time is what the German people actually thought Nicholas Stargardt attempts to change that with The German War using testimony from those who lived through the period as well as letters home from the front One thing I do need to state for a book that is an academic study is that this book is an enjoyable read whether you agree with the conclusion that is a different matterOne of the important things about this book is that Stargardt brings together so many different sources from a wide range of people This book takes its testimony from all sections of German society of the time as all views are important in this book so we receive the views of soldier housewives teachers as well as active Nazis Christians and the persecuted Jews So what we the reader learn of the political concerns but also of their hopes and fears One of the biggest themes throughout the book is that the war is viewed as an ‘intrusion’ in their daily livesAlso in The German War Stargardt challenges the idea that the ordinary citizen did not know anything about the round up and murder of Jews Especially as soldiers returning home on leave or injured tell about the round ups and the systematic murder of Jews in all territories they occupy1943 is seen as an important year for the Germans when they had suffered on the battlefield with loss after loss and territory given up But when there is an attempt on Hitler’s life the population were relieved that Hilter had survived Stargardt also shows the losses that were felt on the home front due to the allied bombing campaign in which 420000 lost their lives many after August 1944 when the German’s were losing on all fronts The author also suggests that on every day in 1945 until the surrender cost 10000 German soldiers lives a heavy toll indeed Even with these losses the German people still felt that the war was legitimate which may seem odd to those of us not from Germany at the timeAs any student of German History is aware that throughout the 1920s and 30s most German’s felt the humiliation of the Great War betrayal at Versailles which helped to motivate the people This also helped the Nazi’s messages of humiliation by German Jews at Versailles in surrendering so much to the victorsWhat The German War does do is challenge the perceptions about what the German’s knew about what was going on in their name throughout the war That this was not a war of honour but a very cruel and callous war that led ultimately to the use of genocide The book is brilliant at bringing a personal context to the theme of the war and what happened after the invasion of Poland An important history of Germany that has been needed for a long time and also certainly challenges a lot of what we thought we knew and uses excellent source material to prove his arguments An excellent and very readable book that has the opportunity to open one’s eyes to what German’s actually knew

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The German War A Nation Under Arms ❰Read❯ ➵ The German War A Nation Under Arms Author Nicholas Stargardt – As early as 1941 Allied victory in World War II seemed all but assured How and why then did the Germans prolong the barbaric conflict for three and a half yearsIn The German War acclaimed historian Ni As early as Allied victory in War A PDF/EPUB Á World War II seemed all but assured How and why then did the Germans prolong the barbaric conflict for three and a half yearsIn The German War acclaimed historian Nicholas Stargardt draws on an extraordinary range of primary The German eBook ☆ source materials—personal diaries court records and military correspondence—to answer this uestion He offers an unprecedented portrait of wartime Germany bringing the hopes and expectations of the German people—from infantrymen and tank commanders on the Eastern front to civilians on the home front—to vivid life While most German War A eBook ☆ historians identify the German defeat at Stalingrad as the moment when the average German citizen turned against the war effort Stargardt demonstrates that the Wehrmacht in fact retained the staunch support of the patriotic German populace until the bitter endAstonishing in its breadth and humanity The German War A Nation Under Epub / German War is a groundbreaking new interpretation of what drove the Germans to fight—and keep fighting—for a lost cause.