Hitler's Soldiers

The German Army in the Third Reich
Narrated by: Michael Page
Length: 26 hrs and 38 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (194 ratings)

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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

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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

15 people found this helpful

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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.

8 people found this helpful

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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 people found this 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 people found this helpful

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WOW!

Very detailed and well put-together book. A lot of time was put into this Book. Hats off to the author.

1 person found this helpful

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A comprehensive work with great narration.

From start to finish, this book had me hooked. A very good choice for those interested in the Wehrmacht, its soldiers and their struggles during the war.

1 person found this helpful

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A mixed bag

This audiobook is uneven in its quality. Although the detailed historical accounts of the actions of myriad generals, officers, and enlisted men are superb, the entire work is shot through with the author’s opinions as to their causes. Many of these opinions are without foundation.

3 people found this helpful

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Best audiobook for it's niche.

Best ww2 military history audiobook focusing on the German army's perspective, period. I have listened and relistened to it at least 10 times in the past few months.

1 person found this 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 people found this helpful

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Gripping, well researched and unflinching.

Solid book which explains the enormous successes, the limitations, the decline and fall of the German army of WWII. And does not shy away from the war crimes which will always stain its reputation.

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  • Helen
  • 11-23-18

Soldier,soldier

Interesting but a little drawn out in places, with measurements given in metric and imperial

2 people found this 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.

2 people found this helpful

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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

2 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • C. Caughey
  • 04-30-20

Outstanding!

I am 66 years old. I have been interested in military history all my life . This is easily one of the finest books I have read concerning the Second World War. The only one better is Hitler's War by David Irving. Anyone with the slightest interest in The Second World War MUST read Hitler's War. David Irving is without doubt the expert by a mile on the subject . Fair play to Shepherd he runs a close second! Why is Audible not listing Irving's work. Hitler's War is a CLASSIC!

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  • Mark Chisholm
  • 06-16-19

In Depth and Detailed

When I first started to listen to this I thought it was a tad dry, but very quickly I was utterly drawn in by the sheer breadth and depth of information and astonishing insightful information presented here. It quickly moved from dry to absolutely riveting listening and at the end despite having read and listened to numerous well known books about this period of time I can say that I learned huge amounts that I had never even considered before.

The narrative follows the natural course of the period of time when Germany militarised through to the start of its war on nearly everyone to the tragic horrific end.

The astonishing thing is that the perspective of time gives the reader/listener the understanding that from the moment that Germany failed to beat the UK, it was doomed. And yet not one senior person in the German leadership understood the big picture. Undoubtedly, if the Germans had stopped when they were ahead and introduced some humanity to their actions the look of Europe would have been entirely different today.

A large part of this book rightfully focus' on the German actions in Soviet Russia where the army was broken. The actions of Germany and the huge losses they took during the campaign in the East sucked the life out of the military machine. Most of all it removed what little humanity existed within the German army.

History, especially immediately post WW2 likes to paint the German army as essentially honourable whilst the atrocities were by and large perpetrated by the SS. This book neatly dispels all those misconceptions pretty quickly. Whilst the main army was not as horrific as the Waffen SS it is simply by comparison. The German army perpetrated truly horrific crimes against humanity en masse and the only reason that the myth of their honour existed is that the Allies post WW2 needed to turn attention away from Germany to the equally terrible USSR under Stalin.

The book takes on the monumental task of explaining how the ordinary man in the German army - and to a large extent the people of Germany - became utterly radicalised to the point of genuinely looking at the world through racial glasses. That this book does so in such a way that even a non scholar can understand it, is absolutely incredible.

The latter stages of the book naturally focus on the fragmentation and defeat of the German army when most of their worst crimes were committed. It also makes an excellent effort to explain why they kept fighting which was a combination of fear, hatred, and in the end no other idea what to do.

To anyone interested in this period of time this is one of the best books ever written and in Audible format superbly narrated and conveyed.

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  • A. DONALDSON
  • 11-03-18

An interesting book

Whilst I would not put it in the same class as Antony Beevor Berlin/Stalingraf it is still an interesting account of the German soldier's on all fronts in World War 2. Also gives a look into any involvement by the army's involvement in War Crimes etc. It is well read by the narrator (although some pronunciations or a little odd) and is well worth a listen

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  • Brian
  • 10-20-18

Book ok. Shame about the production standards.

Sections of the book were mixed up and out of order which made it impossible to enjoy. Narration very monotone and almost robotic. Not an enjoyable listen.

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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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  • Bill
  • 02-20-19

Not what it said it would be

The title is misleading. This is not a book about the German Army, it is a story of how the German government treated the people of the countries they occupied during the war. Sure, the army played a big role in this (probably bigger than is usually thought), and it does include information about how the army transformed under Hitler's lead, but it is definitely not the story of the German army in the Third Reich.

Additionally, the writing style is dull and difficult. How many times do you need to the the term "moreover"? Far to may times in this book.

One of the reason I purchased this book is because I like Michael Page as a narrator, but even his skills could not make this anything but a chore to listen to.