Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949
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Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  642 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"Soldat": Based on Siegfried Knappe's wartime diaries, "Soldat" (the term for a German private), chronicles how Hitler motivated an entire generation to carry out his monstrous schemes, and offers stunning insight into the life of a soldier in Hitler's army from his introduction as a private to his capture as an officer by the Russians.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 9th 1993 by Dell (first published January 1st 1992)
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Jason Koivu
A memoir of a German during WWII. Siegfried Knappe started as an exuberant youth, having done well in school and with all the promise of the world opening before him. Then the war came. He excelled as a soldier, though placed in an outdated, pre-mechanized unit, and soon rose through the ranks, seeing action on nearly all fronts. His story rises and falls along with his country. He was there at pivotal moments. He was in the thick of it. He was the fly on the wall. He was the every man in a Germ...more
Grumpus
What an interesting story of a German soldier's experience. I love these personal accounts and to learn of his good fortune to survive the war over so many battles is inspiring. Truly, God was watching over this man.
Jeff Dawson
Most of the book I have read from individual soldiers were of the lower or the actual Generals themselves. Patton, Monty, Eisenhower, Guederian, Rommel etc. This work is completely different. Siegfried Knappe give us a look into the actual duties and rigors of being on the command staff. We all take for granted the actual work that goes into drawing up and implementing the orders from the high commands no matter which army it is.

The book starts with the end only weeks away as the German Army do...more
Michael
I think this is book is considered fairly legendary in some circles, being 'the WW2 infantry' memoir. Knappe, who retained all his photographs and diaries even through multiple battles and prison camps, entered the German forces as a private or 'soldat', but to some degree the title is disingenuous as he was already a gymnasium graduate and tracked into special under-officer (sergeant) training, and he was well-off enough to be an expert skier, which later, through the pure chance of war/promoti...more
Ryan
I've previously read accounts written by German soldiers who fought in WWII, but this was one of the more interesting and personal ones. As reconstructed from his diary and interviews, we learn that Siegfried Knappe was an unusually capable and dedicated soldier who managed to rise through the ranks, starting as a humble private in the pre-war years, and ending up as a general staff officer who was present at Hitler's bunker before the end. Along the way, he experienced different aspects of Germ...more
Chris
This book being reflections of a young German World War II officer, it gives a fantastic inside look at the way the German artillery was handled in WWII, the thoughts of an "ordinary" officer, and the struggle that these men faced under Russian captivity after the war. I wouldn't normally expect to call a man who was wounded multiple times and served five years in Russian captivity lucky. In this case, while considering the fate of many of those around him, Knappe certainly was quite lucky.
Craig
Soldat, written by German artilleryman Siegfried Knappe, recounts his years as a German soldier (1936-1945) during WWII and as a Russian prisoner of war (1945-1949). In many ways it is a WWII version of Erich Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front", a classic which depicted WWI trench warfare from a German soldier's point of view. I found Soldat much better written and more expansive than "All Quiet". A narrow view of warfare is that all soldiers fighting for the enemy are evil. If Knappe wa...more
Joe Hewitt
This book puts a human face on the German soldier who fought for Hitler's Nazi Germany in World War II. The reader can see from the inside what the Germans believed and acted upon. Knappe was an exceptional soldier, rising to the rank of Major in the General Staff before he was 30. He spoke five languages, and was exceptionally intelligent, yet he was taken in by Nazi propaganda and felt justified in invading France and Czechoslovakia in order to right what Germany considered the wrongs of the t...more
Jackie
I do not know how those people handled all the handships of war, especially the coldness. How can soldiers, but also peasants and fancier folks handle cold nights in the open, and with snow and rain. To fight the elements takes enormous energy. I have become a sissy with heat all around me in dwellings, and little uninsulated time outside. I also do not think I have ever gone without a meal.

The book shows a loving man doing his duty for a living, and not knowing much beyond his immediate control...more
Tommy
Didn't think I'd stick with this memoir, but it kept me interested all the way through. Quite an insight into the mind of a German soldier and an eyewitness account of Hitler's last days. I had always assumed that the German armed forces knew everything Hitler was up to, and were part of the Nazi party. I learned that this wasn't the case. It seems that men and women in the armed forces followed blindly and were shocked and dismayed when in the end they found out what was really going on.
After r...more
Steven
May 19, 2009 Steven rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Even if you're not a fan of military history
This was a great read for a man who never before read a book on military history. The former Nazi Captain who served Hitler briefly in a bunker in Berlin writes an excellent tale of his early years, Hitler's rise to power, and the author's growing discomfort with the ways and leadership of the Nazi party and the German people.

One of the most interesting things comes at the very end: Knappe's fear of being caught by the Russians. When everyone knew they were about to be captured, they all hoped...more
Paula Dembeck
This German soldier fought, was wounded and survived battles in nearly every major Wehrmacht campaign. His career began with Hitler’s rise to power and ended with a five year term in a Russian prison camp.

This is a good personal combat history of WW2 based on the wartime diaries and photos he smuggled out to the West at the end of the war.
It allows the reader to gain insight into how a psychopath like Hitler motivated a generation of ordinary Germans to carry out his ugly plans. It is also a les...more
Michael Gaskin
Sep 06, 2013 Michael Gaskin rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Michael by: gaskinml@gmail.com
I felt the book was an honest portrayal of a particular German soldier in WW2. He answered the most haunting question: If Germany had won, would he have had his soul searching and determine what he did was wrong? He answered honestly...probably not.

The action as described by Knappe was simply harrowing...I couldn't stop reading it because it was so frantic and real. Not some movie, but Knappe actually lived it. The different locations Knappe touched on was amazing! Plus, he describes how many ti...more
Dhiraj Sharma
Winners write history. This was never more true than in case of W-II wherein all the literature you can find in bookshops and libraries is generally written by English or American authors.
This book is an exception since it is written by a German Artillery officer who fought in France, Italy and Russia and finally made it back to his wife and kids after spending 5 years in the Russian Prison camps.
The battle situations are honestly described and give you a clear cut idea how wars are fought and h...more
Caitlin
We listened to this book on Audible. As much as I have learned or read about WW2, I have never heard it from the perspective of a German soldier who had no idea about the concentration camps. The details about battle were a little too lengthy for me, but it was a good book.
Bo Smith
Really interesting and informative book from at the viewpoint of a German officer. Before, during, and after the war.
David
A fascinating view of WWII, through the eyes of a common Wehrmacht officer.
Alex Georfo
a true history of war written by siegfried knappe on what really happened who started the second world war. Mostly in books, films the blame was put to the german people who was accused and started the war. But in reality they did not start the war, as what the book stipulated. Let us be fair in knowing the truth, the facts, in fairness for the german citizen. I my self is really interested in knowing who really initiated to start the war and what was the real cause.
Peter

The day to day life of a German Military officer during W.W II. Well worth a read, if only to redress the balance a little and break the standard black and white, good v evil interpretation mythology.
The guy seems to covers the whole of Europe, mostly on foot, from the original invasion of France, through Barbarossa to the Fall of Berlin followed by captivity in a Soviet Gulag.
An intelligent voice, a family man, a humane and thinking career soldier.
carl  theaker


A good read, this fellow really got around. I particularly
found interesting the machinations of the different HQ groups
at the end of the war to get posted to units in the west,
thus getting to surrender to the Americans or British.

That didn't work out for Knappe as he served his prison time
in Russia after the war, which I also found fascinating, what
do you do for 7 years and how the Soviets would sweat you
when your time for release came near.
Martin
One of the best autobiographical novels from the perspective of a German soldier. Knappe served as "assistant" to a general on the Eastfront and describes in detail the occurrence of his military career starting from his education and personal background to his advancement to France and his final campaign in Russia and Berlin. The beauty of this books lies in the perspective, that this not black and white and focuses on the war, not the occurrences surrounding it.
David Van Den Bossche
Aug 30, 2007 David Van Den Bossche rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
A interesting look at the second world war form a different perspective that usual: a German soldier. It follows the life a artillery man as he fights all the way from the invasion of Sudetenland to the battle of Berlin. By the end I found myself cheering for the Germans and disappointed with their defeat, as you learn that for most of the soldiers it was not about the evil things such as holocaust, it was about serving their country.
William
Another interesting and exciting first-hand account of wartime service and survival (this time from a German soldier). My two complaints: (1) many details the author adds do not serve the narrative and simply complicate the reading -- I found myself glossing over quite a few paragraphs (2) the author offers much personal insight but he still does not let his own character show through enough
Sam Motes
The utter patriotism of the soldier fighting for his country and his brothers in arms without the knowledge of the atrocities his government was committing makes for a very important read. The propaganda that kept the soldiers fighting to the bloody end shows the power of the media. This is a powerful read that goes along way to explain why millions of people followed Hitler.
Johnny
Not bad reading kept me interested. Read it many years ago. Knappe tells his story as a German soldier during WWII. He starts with his life before joining the army up to the end of the war. The stories he has during this period are quite interesting especially the wartime experiences which comprise the bulk of this book. He has since moved to the U.S. to live his life out.
Daniel
An excellent memoir with enough reflection without rambling. Gave you an under represented perspective that is articulate and informative. Mr. Knappes contributions to the German war effort were neither exaggerated nor embellished and felt even handed. Well worth the time spent in reading it.
Eric
A great book about a German soldier, officer, prisoner of war, father and husband. Really good insight into the war and life in a Russian prison. If you've ever wondered what the difference is between a German soldier and Nazi soldier in WW2, this is the book to explain that.
Katrynke
Wow! Not into history at all, but thoroughly enjoyed this book. I learned quite a bit about the war that I wasn't aware of and it kept my attention all the way through. The only thing I would have liked is if there was more information about his later life and family.
Derrick
This is a great autobiography that illustrates what it was like fighting for the Fatherland during WWII. It's amazing that this guy fought in so many thaters of war and still survived. This gives you good perspective on WWII from a proud/patriotic German.
Sean
It was interesting/weird, to see the war through the eyes of someone on the other side. Knappe has a great and important story to tell, and I couldn't stop reading it. I'm sure I'll be reading it again someday.
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Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1939-45

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