D-Day Through German Eyes (Parts One and Two)

D-Day Through German Eyes (Parts One and Two)

Holger Eckhertz
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
We all know that history of war is written by the victors, but that doesn’t mean that those whose side lost don’t have a historic view. It just means we rarely hear it. In this Audiobook we finally do.

From the point of view of ordinary German soldiers, we are introduced to D-Day from the Normandy Defences of the Wehrmacht. The story is told through interviews of the soldiers who were manning the defences at the various beaches. Each one describes in clear detail the graphic scenes they faced. Facing variously US, British and Canadian troops they tell of the atmosphere in the immediate hours before the landings, through their actions in defending against the Allies, and the chaotic retreat when the defences were overcome.

The various defences are well described, including the planned upgrades and manning. There is no shortage of descriptive explanations of what the various weapons did to the human body. This certainly seems to have had a sobering effect on the interviewees. They seemed to be surprised at how much hate they felt from the British and US troops, and really didn’t seem to understand why. What seems to me to be more telling though, is their political views. In their accounts there were many references to ‘United Europe’, and that the Wehrmacht troops were defending their territory, defending France from the invaders, without any consideration that it was the 3rd Reich that was the original invader. Only one (passing) comment from a German soldier who asked “Are we sorry we started this war now?” makes us consider how well the German propaganda machine had conditioned the German (and associated non-German volunteers) troops into thinking that they were fighting for a better Europe. There are also the views that the Normandy Landings were merely a diversion for a main invasion elsewhere, or a Dieppe style landing.

Although most of us have seen the Normandy Landing told in its brutality in films such as Saving Private Ryan, the view from the other side is sobering. There are clear descriptions of how German weapons damaged landing craft, tanks and the human body. We hear of landing craft sinking, blowing up, ploughing through troops already in the water. We also hear accounts of being on the receiving end of Allied bombers, naval bombardment, Flame Throwers and grenades. There are accounts of engaging Sherman tanks and Churchill Flail tanks.

Some of the accounts relate to German troops being captured and sent to Prison Camps in England and the US, their treatment and how their treatment changed once news of the Concentration Camps (Bergen-Belsen, for example) became known.

If you are interested in the history of D-Day and the Normandy Landings, then I think you will find this an essential read/listen.

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