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The Boy Who Went to War: The Story of a Reluctant German Soldier in WWII
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The Boy Who Went to War: The Story of a Reluctant German Soldier in WWII

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  181 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
A powerful and true story of warfare and human survival that exposes a side of World War II that is unknown by many— this is the story of Wolfram Aïchele, a boy whose childhood was stolen by a war in which he had no choice but to fight.

Giles Milton has been a writer and historian for many years, writing about people and places that history has forgotten. But it took his yo
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 11th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published February 1st 2011)
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May 04, 2011 Karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have probably given all of Giles Milton's books five star ratings due to the fact he happens to be one of my favorite authors. This is the latest book by the English writer and historian. It is the story of his father-in-law Wolfram Aichele who was a German conscript during the second world war. Today, he is eighty-six and lives in Paris. He survived both the eastern and western fronts and was a prisoner-of-war. The story is so well-told and intriging from the standpoint of a young reluctant c ...more
Aug 02, 2016 Debbie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remembrance of an artistic boy, born in 1924 in a small Bavarian village, and drafted into the German army in 1942, who survived, by luck. The same for the rest of his family. But the details of the Nazi's gaining power and the impact of war time life, especially on all civilians, is always an important story to read again and never forget.
David Lowther
Jan 22, 2013 David Lowther rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Boy who went to war is one of the finest true stories about how ordinary Germans coped with the rise of Nazism and the second world war.

The author traces Wolfram's childhood in a happy artistic home in South West Germany (near the Black Forest)and, with some small cultural difference, this is no different from most countries in Western Europe. The creeping menace of Nazism is illustrated not with innocent people being dragged off to concentration camps but with the growing control of people'
Aug 17, 2011 Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, insightfull. Many times I stopped reading just to collect myself. Left me with a deep sense of appreciation of the current peace we enjoy, the price paid and just the lives lost and the lives that were disturbed. Very educational especially about the world and what it looked like pre, during and post world war 2. It was an honest account, nothing heroic but something really exceptional.
Jul 11, 2014 Gretchen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well told story mainly of Germans who hated national socialism and Hitler, but "wanted to preserve their own lives. They had young children to protect; they were scared of the Gestapo. They did not want to end their days in Dachau."
Oct 13, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very sad insight into the plight of ordinary people whose lives were overtaken by war. Everyone should read this book.
May 31, 2012 Elgin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
This was outstanding and I recommend it to everyone. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed "Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War." This book was the (fortunate) product of an experienced writer (Giles Milton) with a German father-in-law (Wolfram Aichele) who fought for the Third Reich in WWII. This is Wolfgang's story, from his boyhood in a small German community to his conscription to fight on the Russian front and in Nomandy, to his capture and time as a prisoner of war in the US. The book focuses ...more
Robert Hepple
The book is a biographical account of Giles Milton’s father-in-laws experiences during the rise of Nazism and subsequent ordeal as a soldier of the Wehrmacht. The text appears to fall into two main concurrent narratives – first, dealing with Wolfram’s experiences and second, historical background details of events in Germany at the time, presumably to put Wolfram’s experiences in context. The blurb inside the dustcover says ‘The Boy Who Went to War overturns all the clichés about life under Adol ...more
Feb 14, 2012 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book because its a real story that is not an american point of view on WW2. I say this because only the german soldiers that were nazis were actually nazis, the other "nazi army" soldiers were forced to fight with Hitler. Wolfram was one of these soldiers that didn't have choice and was frowned upon just because he had to. The story of his WW2 experience really is amazing, how he was saved from becoming sick, and how the americans treated him in the pow camp (good not bad). ...more
Apr 05, 2015 Suzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2-history, memoir
A very good book detailing the experiences of Wolfram and his family / friends in Germany during the Second World War. Wolfram was a young, sensitive and artistic child whose live was interrupted by war. He was forced to serve in a war he didn't believe in and confront the horrors he couldn't have imagined. I found this third person narrative which tells a chronological tale, to be gripping in places, but it also put the events into a historical context. Usually this style of coming out of the a ...more
Daniel Levin
Oct 05, 2014 Daniel Levin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The perspective of a liberal, intellectual German who is drafted.

2 things to say about this book.

1. It is just a different perspective we don't know a lot about. In other stories we've heard about German Nazis, maybe a bit about active German anti-Nazis, but this book is about a different type of person: a completely non-extremist non-dogmatic artist who has to go fight in the German army.

2. It is fascinating. The main character travels through an insane world at war, things are changing, fall
Kathleen McRae
Apr 23, 2014 Kathleen McRae rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wolfram was an excellent read. It was an interesting look at WW11 from the perspective of Germans who were not Nazis but caught up in the ghastly reality that their country had become. Wolfram was not a warrior and had he been allowed would probably have been a conscientious objecter.The other interesting thing brought out during Wolfram's story is how much a government can hide from people. America spun its own propaganda and its motives were sometimes as deep and dark as Nazi Germany.
Carol Ann
May 27, 2012 Carol Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't let this story slip away. If you have read dozens of concentration camp survivor stories you must read this book. It deals with an artistic peaceloving family caught up in Nazi Germany. It gives a balanced look at suburban life for the average German family. The author Giles Milton tells the story of his father-in-law from youngster to well accepted artist. This book could use a little more editorship and polishing, but the story itself will carry you through.
Aug 25, 2012 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was actually 3.5 stars - an interesting account of WWII that shared a lot of how many Germans viewed the war and especially those who were no pro-Nazi or pro-Hitler. In the end, Wolfram did have to go to war but by luck/coincidence/act of God, he survived to tell his story to his son-in-law who authored this book.
Dec 17, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave an insiders view of WWII. Enjoyed that it was written about a German boy/young adult and his first hand experiences growing up during Hitler's rise to power and then during the war. Not really a story as much of a collection of experiences from Wolfram's point of view and that of his parents, and his wife's parents experiences.
Peggy Sinden
This a tremendous account of history behind the German lines toward World War II and beyond. Some of the information was tough to read from the American side. I had to step back to a time when I was too small to remember. I do remember the times my grandmother would sit and worry about her son being gone for four years just as Marie-Charlotte would worry about Wolfram. War touches us all.
Apr 05, 2014 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book as it gave me a different perspective of WW2 from a German point of view. It read a bit like a straight account of a true story which I don't always like but this held me interest throughout. Do read.
Mar 24, 2016 Kriegslok rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good biography of a German caught up against his will in a war he didn't want to fight. A very good perspective on the lot of dissident German's and their battle to survive in a system that left them no room and demanded the obedience and participation of all in crimes against humanity.
Jan 13, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book with a wonderful but sad story abou people living in Germany before and during Hitlers reign. I enjoy to read about this period but feel so badly that people had to be hungry and scared every day of their lives. Makes me appreciate my own that much more....
Jan 19, 2012 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fascinating story by Giles. He is one of my favourite authors, i can never put his books down and this was no different. I was a bit surprised to find Wolfram is his father in law, but non the less a fitting tribute.
Aug 25, 2013 Piotr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4,5 gwiazdki, bo GM napisal kilka innych ksiazek na 5. Bardzo ciekawa i nietypowa historia rodzinna. Rodziny ktora miala bardzo duzo szczescia, ze po prostu zyla "obok", bardziej i mniej doslownie. GM jednak wie wiecej i bardzo uczciwie te swoje trzy grosze dopisuje.
Christopher Atkinson
Again Milton tells the other side of the story, all the better for being close to the authors heart!
Feb 17, 2016 Brendon rated it it was amazing
Chris Capuzziello lampert
Very interesting to hear the side of a family that was German and wanted no part of the war and what happened to him and his family.
Saurabh Shrivastava
Story about the side of the WW II that we don't get to hear. This is a story of a boy whose childhood was stolen by a war in which he had no choice but to fight.
Jan 05, 2012 Neeka27 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing that after all of the WW2 books I've read this book gave me information about the war I had never heard before...
Abhishek Agarwal
Sep 08, 2015 Abhishek Agarwal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
World war II from the perspective of young German conscript who has the misfortune of turning 18 during the war. Reminds you how terrible war is, for everyone involved.
Dec 20, 2012 Jane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
WWI! from the point of view of a young German artist, Wolfram Aichele. The takeaway: in war, everyone suffers.
Andrew Tunstall
Apr 29, 2012 Andrew Tunstall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book that speaks powerfully to how important the freedoms of thought and speech are to maintaining our humanity
Tamara rated it really liked it
Jan 05, 2012
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British writer and journalist Giles Milton was born in Buckinghamshire in 1966. He has contributed articles for most of the British national newspapers as well as many foreign publications, and specializes in the history of travel and exploration. In the course of his researches, he has traveled extensively in Europe, the Middle East, Japan and the Far East, and the Americas.

Knowledgeable, insati
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