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Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier 1936-1948

Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 - Siegfried Knappe, Ted Brusaw I think this is book is considered fairly legendary in some circles, being 'the WW2 infantry' memoir. Knappe, who retained all his photographs and diaries even through multiple battles and prison camps, entered the German forces as a private or 'soldat', but to some degree the title is disingenuous as he was already a gymnasium graduate and tracked into special under-officer (sergeant) training, and he was well-off enough to be an expert skier, which later, through the pure chance of war/promotion led him to be sent off into a staff assignment when his unit went off into a destructive battle. (apparently a lot of war memoirs include this element-- by definition, we're reading the survivor account because 'there but for the hand of god' he would have been in stalingrad or kursk or wherever).

starting as a horse-drawn artillery specialist (most of the german army was horse-drawn throughout the war; panzers were highly visible and constitute the contemporary image of the war but all european economies, german included, still relied on muscle power), Knappe eventually sees action in France and the Eastern Front, and then is sufficiently important to be 'flown to Moscow' as the opening chapter reveals. so, in other words, he 'saw it all;' may have had one of the most dramatic and widely-ranging german army experiences, although not a party member. 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. a 'legendary work,' it would seem, written as if by a professional writer. 4/5