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Soldaten

On Fighting, Killing, and Dying
Narrated by: Simon Prebble
Length: 14 hrs
4 out of 5 stars (80 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On a visit to the British National Archive in 2001, Sonke Neitzel made a remarkable discovery: reams of meticulously transcribed conversations among German POWs that had been covertly recorded and recently declassified. Neitzel would later find another collection of transcriptions, twice as extensive, in the National Archive in Washington, D.C. These were discoveries that would provide a unique and profoundly important window into the true mentality of the soldiers in the Wehrmacht, the Luftwaffe, the German navy, and the military in general - almost all of whom had insisted on their own honorable behavior during the war.

Collaborating with renowned social psychologist Harald Welzer, Neitzel examines these conversations - and the casual, pitiless brutality omnipresent in them - from a historical and psychological perspective, and in reconstructing the frameworks and situations behind these conversations, they have created a powerful narrative of wartime experience.

©2011 Soenke Neitzel and Harald Welzer; English translation by Jefferson Chase copyright 2012 (P)2012 HighBridge Company

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  • Overall
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    1 out of 5 stars

Horrible

If you re looking for war stories, don't buy this book. The audio sample is misleading. The book will tell a 30 second war story and then drone on for thirty minutes on the psychological and sociological factors involved. It's as dry as a text book and just as interesting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not what you expect

Authors arrogantly tell you what to think about what German soldiers said. Book has moments of enjoyability matched against large swaths of academic pontification and hubris.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Scott
  • Scarborough, ON, Canada
  • 11-15-13

Banality of evil

Any additional comments?

Scholarly account of secretly recorded conversations of WWII German POWs. The transcripts are presented more or less verbatim which makes them all the more chilling as the subjects converse in cold blooded detail murder of civilians, war crimes, and the thrill of killing as if it were a video game. You will find little remorse here. An unnerving account of what war turns men into. On the downside, I found the narration a little dry and lacking.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Martin
  • KNOXVILLE, TN, United States
  • 10-13-12

Deflates claims that only a few knew

I grew up in a town close to Camp Forrest where German POWs were held in the continental United States during the war. Although this book deals with German POWs held in The United Kingdom, this book was of particular interest to me. I was shocked at how prevalent the ideas about people in territories invaded by nazi troops were. It seemed to be more or less accepted that regardless of any written rules of conduct (which seem nebulous at times), that committing rape and murder were perfectly acceptable practices. Any small act was accepted as a pretext for the most appalling crimes against humanity. The "thousand year reich" will certainly be remembered for far more than a thousand years for these acts. I pray that we do better.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A missed opportunity

This could have been an incredible book, but the author and his ego got in the way. He seemed to think we wanted to listen to him instead of the soldiers this book was supposed to be about. So this book is 5-10% actual dialogue of Nazi POWs and 90-95% authors commentary. Not kidding. So the powerful insight one might have been able to gain by hearing actual soldiers words is severely and irreparably diluted by the author as he expounds upon, philosophized about, interprets, highlights, comments on, gives context to, insights on, relates with, or otherwise stands in front of, the actual subject matter. What a wasted opportunity to bring powerful powerful insight to the world. Instead we get just another historian, one of a million, who summarize the insights they themselves have gained, foolishly believing that such insight must needs translate from them to me, via their words, sadly oblivious to the fact that their words will never be as powerful as the source material itself. One can only hope another author comes along who will do justice to the same archive of source material by simply letting the reader read the actual words and letting the heated hear the actual dialogue, naked, honest, real, historical, sad, unbelievable, but able to provide the end user with opportunities to have their own a-ha moments, instead of having to read about the author's a-ha moments only.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More accounts less analysis please!

I was very interested in listening to the soldiers recordings but tended to dose off when the author started analysing their conversations. I'm not saying I did not value the authors input; I would of just preferred to listen to more of what the soldiers had to say. Some of their stories where just incredible. I'm so happy I did not have to live through such an ordeal. It's a worth while listen for anyone interested in WWII from a German soldier's point of view.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter
  • Martinez, CA, United States
  • 03-04-13

Scholarly Work

A good listen if you are a history wonk maybe not as interesting for those looking for pure entertainment.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • BrentDC
  • Portland, TX, United States
  • 03-02-13

Chilling revelation of the men of Hitler's Germany

Would you try another book from the authors and/or Simon Prebble?

Perhaps, this subject was revealing and exemplary in letting us hear the voices and thoughts of the men that built and were part of the Third Reich.

Would you be willing to try another book from the authors? Why or why not?

Yes, as I see the perspective here as vital not well known, how ordinary and plain these soldiers were, yet the Nazi Regime shaped them into people that could obey the unconscionable.

Have you listened to any of Simon Prebble’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

well enough, though the subject matter is quite dry at times

Did Soldaten inspire you to do anything?

Reflect on how precious choice is and I thank God I have the freedom to have many choices.

Any additional comments?

The subject matter is dark and dry in it's presentation but was invaluable in showing what happens when ordinary men are compromised by leaders intent on evil. Good leadership is vital

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Todd
  • lakewood, CO, USA
  • 03-11-14

Soldier

Would you try another book from the authors and/or Simon Prebble?

no

What other book might you compare Soldaten to and why?

I dont think there is another book like it

What didn’t you like about Simon Prebble’s performance?

He is very monotone. But he is british

Was Soldaten worth the listening time?

Yes

Any additional comments?

readslike a military report, because it is

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Sean
  • Houston, Texas, United States
  • 02-04-13

I wanted to like this

I listen to a lot of first-person histories of the war. Since I don't speak German, I was hoping that this book would give me some insight into the German war experience.

The author spends a tremendous amount of time on the sociological and psychological reasons behind the soldiers actions, and how easy they were persuaded that what they did was normal, expected, and "just a job".

Dull, dull, dull, dull...

I'm returning this audiobook. I couldn't make it through the first hour.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful