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Publisher's Summary

For decades after 1945, it was generally believed that the German army, professional and morally decent, had largely stood apart from the SS, Gestapo, and other corps of the Nazi machine. Ben Shepherd draws on a wealth of primary sources and recent scholarship to convey a much darker, more complex picture.

For the first time, the German army is examined throughout the Second World War, across all combat theaters and occupied regions, and from multiple perspectives: its battle performance, social composition, relationship with the Nazi state, and involvement in war crimes and military occupation.

This was a true people's army, drawn from across German society and reflecting that society as it existed under the Nazis. Without the army and its conquests abroad, Shepherd explains, the Nazi regime could not have perpetrated its crimes against Jews, prisoners of war, and civilians in occupied countries. The author examines how the army was complicit in these crimes and why some soldiers, units, and higher commands were more complicit than others.

Shepherd also reveals the reasons for the army's early battlefield successes and its mounting defeats up to 1945, the latter due not only to Allied superiority and Hitler's mismanagement as commander-in-chief, but also to the failings of the army's own leadership.

©2016 Ben H. Shepherd (P)2018 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very good book about German army unit behaviors

Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler's Soldiers to be better than the print version?

I wanted to understand if different German army units really knew what the Nazi's were up to and if they took part in atrocities knowing Hilter's grand plan and if they were supportive of it. I got a lot of good information regarding these questions from this book. There was a lot of excerpts from German soldier letters and memoirs which the author used to substantiate his beliefs on who did what and why. This can be helpful, but you are working off of individual soldiers opinions and beliefs in what they saw and what they believed at that moment. Can be useful, but also is opinionated statements made by young Germans. Overall a very good book about the German side of WWII. Very well narrated.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary A.
  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • 03-23-18

Thorough and scholarly

As an obsessive reader of all things WWII , I saw this book as extremely well-written and chockful of interesting events and interplay between the principals.
Unfortunately, what I didn’t see was why I bought the book..its title.
It was not about Hitler’s soldiers.
I was expecting accounts of the foot soldiers experiences in battle, their attitudes about what they were doing and thinking.
The author quoted excerpts from some soldiers’ letters, but the quotes were sparse and said little about how they felt about anything.
I knew the history. I didn’t know how the ordinary soldier responded to the enormity of the situations in which he found himself.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Thorough German WW2 History

Wow... this was the most thorough and intriguing reading I have ever listened to. Anyone interested in the German Army during the Second World War will be overwhelmingly impressed by this! I HIGHLY recommend it.
Loved it..... although it’s hard to fathom the human race reached these lows.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

An excellent story of the German army in WW-II. I have read many books on this subject and this is one of the very best. It offered new and balanced perspectives on the subject-especially comparing the German army on the western front versus the eastern front.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Great narrative, Great narrator

Well researched narrative with a perfect narrator for this particular book, except for a few inconsistencies in the narrator's pronunciations of "Guy Sajer. " other than that, it was a worthwhile listen.

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Not much new here

This book feels at times like it was written by 1960s Soviet propagandists. And while absolutely appropriate (we DID defeat Nazi Germany, so we DO get to write the history), the author reads quotes from solders letters, but doesn’t really enlighten us with new material of consequence. Time after time, the book intones the common solder should have questioned or even disobeyed orders to commit historically well-established atrocities. This got really old, really fast. REAL people know it’s a fantasy to think the Sergeants and Privates could rebel against the Colonels, Generals, etc in the Wehrmacht of the 1930s and 1940s. There were a few nuggets here and there, like providing an overview of occupation forces and organization in conquered territories, but even these topics were covered quickly so the author could get back to the “German Army Bad! German Soldiers Bad! German Soldiers should have all rebelled!” tone of the book. Overall, I wasn’t impressed.

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  • paul hadfeild
  • 03-24-18

update on how complicit the normal solders

Well worth reading as it shows just how complicit the normal solders were in all the atrocities , not the normal white washed version that has been peddled for years.
This information has been coming out in dribs and drabs the "we were just normal solders doing our duty it was all the ss " myth has been debunked and this book puts it all together.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • edward sidsaph
  • 09-08-18

Narrator the saviour !

Michael Page was superb,the narrative had a nasty habit of repeating it's previous themes i.e That the German Army was not all bad not all good,That younger Officers tended to be more likely to be receptive to Nazi ideology or that in the end the Wehrmacht fought on out of shame for the shambles of 1918 or fear or Soviet reprisals.I understand a need to state these things but constant reiteration was quite tiresome.

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  • Paul B. C
  • 08-15-18

well researched with a balanced viewpoint.

The book covered the German army from the key pre-era
with references and comparisons to the first world war. it also charted the change in the army as the war progressed until it's final destruction in 1945 using a wide range of references including testimonies from German soldiers and officers after the war. it also balanced the capabilities of both allies and German forces and how they change during the war. With respect to the question "was the German soldier innocent of the atrocities committed?" No one was completely innocent but the indoctrination of younger soldiers prepared them for atrocities especially with to lesser race. However, it was stated that Hitler and his officers were overwhelmingly to blame and other contributing factors such as inadequate means of dealing with prisoners, lack of provisions and food to fight played a great part.

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  • mat brown
  • 05-17-18

A thoroughly researched piece

What a great listen

The narrator was engaging and the narrative compelling

Thanks to Ben Shepard and Micheal Page

I’ll be listening to this book many times

1 of 2 people found this review helpful