Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949

Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949

by Siegfried Knappe

And inside Hitler's bunker during The Battle of Berlin .

World War II through the eyes of a solider of the Reich.Siegfried Knappe fought, was wounded, and survived battles in nearly every major Wehrmacht campaign.

His astonishing career begins with Hitler's rise to power--and ends with a five-year term in a Russian prison camp, after the Allies rolled victoriously into the smoking rubble of Berlin.

The enormous range of Knappe's fighting experiences provides an unrivaled combat history of World War II, and a great deal more besides.Based on Knappe's wartime diaries, filled with 16 pages of photos he smuggled into the West at war's end, Soldat delivers a rare opportunity for the reader to understand how a ruth psychopath motivated an entire generation of ordinary Germans to carry out his monstrous schemes .

World War II from inside the Wehrmacht."--Kirkus Reviews

  • Language: English
  • Category: History
  • Rating: 4.10
  • Pages: 430
  • Publish Date: September 1993 by Dell Publishing Co.
  • Isbn10: 0440215269
  • Isbn13: 9780440215264

What People Think about "Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949"

For me the most interesting part of the book is NOT Knappe's war-time experience, but the five years he spent in Russian camps. The camps he went to were not your ordinary labor camps, but rather camps for political prisoners, holding high-ranking German officers and intellectuals.

Siegfried Knappe started as an exuberant youth, having done well in school and with all the promise of the world opening before him. And it helps that he was not a Nazi, just another patriotic German eager to see his country bounce back to prominence and prosperity.

Why I pass on books that I love, I'll never know (oh, I don't have space).

Siegfried Knappe give us a look into the actual duties and rigors of being on the command staff. We all take for granted the actual work that goes into drawing up and implementing the orders from the high commands no matter which army it is. Herr Knappe was assigned to an artillery unit. The unit he was assign to was horse drawn as it would be for most of his days. No where had I learned so much about horse-drawn artillery. As he moved up the ranks (based on his early performance at Paulen) he learned the innermost working of headquarters from regiment, division, corp, army and ultimately the high command. Herr Knappe survived his captivity unlike countless others who were marched into the far reaches of "Mother Russia" and with a lot luck and cunning was able to bring his wife and two children out East Germany and located to the United States.

I've previously read accounts written by German soldiers who fought in WWII, but this was one of the more interesting and personal ones. As reconstructed from his diary and interviews, we learn that Siegfried Knappe was an unusually capable and dedicated soldier who managed to rise through the ranks, starting as a humble private in the pre-war years, and ending up as a general staff officer who was present at Hitler's bunker before the end. Along the way, he experienced different aspects of German military life in that era, from being a teenager in a labor/indoctrination camp (sort of a pre-boot camp to get young adults used to regimentation), to being a proud young officer in infantry school, to carrying out his duties in an artillery regiment during the invasions of France and Russia, to watching things turn dire for Germany as Hitler's insane decisions doom the army in Russia and allow the massive Soviet military to smash its way to Berlin. Readers looking for combat stories won't find more than a few here, but there were plenty of other details that interested me.

Knappe undoubtedly excludes much of the prison experience and the months from France to Barbarossa might be surprisingly swept over, but the flip side, of course, is lots and lots of war and war-training detail.

As a junior artillery officer, Mr. Knappe witnessed firsthand some of the momentous events of the war; the annexation of Czechoslovakia, the invasion of France, the push through Russia towards Moscow, the retreat in Italy, and the final defense of Berlin where he was captured.