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Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck
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Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck

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4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  2,594 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
A stunning look at World War II from the other side...

From the turret of a German tank, Colonel Hans von Luck commanded Rommel's 7th and then 21st Panzer Division. El Alamein, Kasserine Pass, Poland, Belgium, Normandy on D-Day, the disastrous Russian front--von Luck fought there with some of the best soldiers in the world. German soldiers.

Awarded the German Cross in Gold a
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Mass Market Paperback, 357 pages
Published February 1st 1991 by Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (first published September 1st 1989)
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Community Reviews

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David
May 14, 2015 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Panzer commanders with Jewish girlfriends
Hans Von Luck (pronounced like the English name "Luke" not the English word "luck") was a "good German," which makes his memoir an interesting story that has certain elephants constantly lurking in the back of the room. Luck addresses them a few times, though perhaps not to the satisfaction of those who really want to know about the moral calculus of serving as a willing officer in Hitler's army.

I found his account compelling and sometimes riveting for his first-hand accounts of war and all its
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Jeff Clay
Oct 12, 2014 Jeff Clay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What madness to fight to the knife and then become good friends!"

This is a deceptively simple book, written in a matter-of-fact voice, as almost a travelogue of Colonel von Luck's experiences and travails in war and imprisonment. I wondered, more than once whilst reading, if the dispassionate distance of 40 years -- the approximate length of time from events to writing -- might have allowed a bit of a selective memory patina to colour his discourse. The Ukrainians welcomed the invading Germans
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Bill
Nov 04, 2012 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best war memoirs I've read. The author is balanced and realistic about war, about the nazis, about his own point of view, about his opponents. He was present in virtually every theatre of war from the first day until almost the final day, and often involved in the crucial battles, so the account is full of interest from a historical point of view -- not to mention his close connection to Rommel. Von Luck was clearly an outstanding soldier and his battle accounts are fascinating, but t ...more
Dhiraj Sharma
Feb 12, 2013 Dhiraj Sharma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Col. Hans Von Luck served under all theatres of WW-II be it France, Africa or the ill fated Operation Barbarossa in Russia.
If you want to read a book from the German Army's prespective this is the book for you.
The author writes in a crisp and precise manner and gives an insight into the German's soldier's mind and the reader comes to know how a professional army officer should behave. The book also touches upon the charismatic personality of one of the greatest german Field Marshalls 'Erwin Romm
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James
Mar 07, 2008 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Students of military history and of leadership
An officer of great character and ability, though his army was serving an evil cause, tells his story with clarity and humanity. Von Luck was the kind of officer under whom soldiers want to serve, because he cares deeply about them and puts their welfare above his own. A solid study in leadership under extreme hardship.
Née
Jan 05, 2014 Née rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had me hooked from the first page. And maybe that was all a clever trick on von Luck's part because by the time I got to the point in the book where the military jargon and the (sometimes) dry descriptions of various missions was annoying me - I was too hooked to give up.

I'm glad I stuck with it. Hans von Luck's story is worth reading if you're a WWII history buff because it gives a unique perspective I had yet to encounter: a story from the other side.

So much of what I've read about
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Kris
Oct 10, 2012 Kris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I pick this up as an addition to my WWII library as I had already read the books about the more famous generals of the Germans and I am starting to read about some of the lesser know leaders. This is a well written account of Colonel Lucks experiences in WW II and I did get to read some of the first accounts of what it was like for German POW's post WW II held by the Russians which I had never read before. The book as a whole though seemed to lack an awareness of the human cost of the war or it ...more
Jan
Jun 30, 2014 Jan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
von Luck is no great writer and his memoirs written 40 years after the vents he skirts and evades the basic issue of fighting for the Third Reich and hitler to the bitter end. Certainly the military professional will receive limited insight from his often superficial description of the battles and his personal reflections are fairly unreflective and one-dimensional. All of which is a shame insofar as he did participate in the campaigns in Poland, France, Russia, North Africa, Normandy, Lorraine ...more
Hamish Davidson
As you read this book you feel as though you are right there beside von Luck on the battlefield and in his beloved Mercedes experiencing the campaigns he was involved in during World War Two. His descriptions of each country's local people are fascinating, particularly the Behouins in North Africa and the Russians during his time in captivity. Despite wearing the swastica during WWII, von Luck really does seem to be a grounded human being with a sincere heart.
Paul Brimhall
Apr 25, 2015 Paul Brimhall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book to anyone having an interest in history, especially WWII. I really enjoyed the book and hated to see it end.
Cerisaye
I am about a quarter of the way through the audio version (for some reason the voice actor puts on an obviously fake German accent and reads with a downbeat tone, which take a bit of getting used to) of this Second World War memoir. Von Luck has reached Smolensk, on the road to Moscow, and I want to jot down a few thoughts on the book so far.

It certainly makes an interesting, total contrast with my previous wartime read/listen, Guy Sajer's Forgotten Soldier. Hans von Luck- the 'von' is key here
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Jacob LeFrancois
One of the best World War 2 memoirs out there. Colonel Hans von Luck gives a personal account of the German war experience; a front line tanker and staff officer who fights on nearly every front. The memoirs also give some interesting insight of Rommel, one of von Luck's superiors.
Jennifer Pence
Not my usual type of book. This is the memoir of a nazi tank commander. He survived the western front only to be sent to the the eastern front and then spend 5 years in a Russian prisoner of war camp. Interesting read, especially if you want to learn more about troop movements and strategy.
Erik
Oct 21, 2016 Erik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book
Michael
Aug 16, 2012 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Probably the all around best account of tank warfare through the eyes of a German Colonel of the 21st German Panzer Division. Hans von Luck had the fortitude to fight on almost all fronts. Including Poland, France, Russia, in the Afrika-Korps, then again in France during D-Day. At the end his battle-group was thrown into the defense of Berlins southern flank to fight the unstoppable Russian juggernaut.

Hans was a scholar of Rommel, with whom he shared a special relationship of professional apprec
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Ryan
Not quite what I was expecting. I imagined that this would be a cold and clinical book on the nature of tank warfare (a topic I was curious about, having done work on military simulations). Instead, the author, who comes across as a friendly, gregarious man, spends little time on the technical details of war and writes about his impressions of places he was sent to and people he met.

Von Luck isn't a great writer, but he served on several different fronts (Eastern, Africa, Western) and spent five
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Edward
Sep 07, 2014 Edward rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war
This is not a book I would have normally found on my own. But, a good friend recommended it and I am most grateful that he did. It is a recollection of World War II that everyone should read.

These are the memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck and in it he shares his experiences of his life as an officer in the German army leading up to and through World War II. It also gives his account of the five years he spent after the war in a Soviet POW camp and his eventual return to life as a civilian.

This bo
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Joe Wisniewski
Aug 08, 2010 Joe Wisniewski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The genesis of this book had to with the acquaintance or friendship that the author has/had with Stephen Ambrose. Colonol von Luck was giving a talk about his life during WWII. He was met with incredulity when he stated that he knew nothing of the Nazi death camps. So, apparently, this book was written, at least partially to address how that was generally true, as he claimed during the war.

The book doesn't really accomplish this task. However, I will say that I have a new appreciation for the sk
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Bookwombat
These memoirs are very well-written as well as providing an interesting view of the war from an officer who happened to be close to several top commanders and "at the spot" at crucial moments of the war.

However, the book is also marred by a sort of "retroactive damage control". It is perhaps inevitable that Hans von Luck would try to distance himself from the Nazis, and indeed his choice of a Jewish fiancé suggests that this distance was genuine.

What I find less credible as well as less excusabl
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Jean Poulos
Von Luck was born in 1911 in Flensburg, the son of a naval officer and descends from an old military family. Von Luck joined a Cavalry regiment in the 100,000 strong Reichwehr in 1929 but was soon transferred to the motorized infantry. In 1931 he came under the tutelage of Erwin Rommel. By 1936 he was a company commander. He served in every battle from Poland, Russia, Africa and France. He was a battalion commander under Rommel. He was captured by the Russian at the end of the war and put into a ...more
Patrick
Oct 29, 2014 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. Luck certainly comes off as a decent enough fellow, not a bad word to say about anyone save for the Nazis and military officers who were overly loyal to Hitler. His explanation that the German army had a strong sense of loyalty, one that Hitler abused, comes off as particularly hollow. "We were just so honorable, and Hitler abused that." The minutiae of some of the battles are not particularly compelling to me, and that is what Luck knows best because ...more
R.M.F Brown
One for the military historian

Few military men have the skill to produce engrossing and engaging memoirs (Julius Caesar being a rare exception) their work is often reduced to dry anecdotes, or bogged down in technical detail which is of little interest to the general reader.

Panzer commander does little to change this viewpoint. Charting the military career of Hans Von Luck, it is part travelogue, part cultural history, and part military history. At times, Luck writes lucidly, describing the var
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George
Mar 19, 2015 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
These are the memoirs of Herr Oberst Hans von Luck and his experiences as a non-Nazi professional officer in the German army leading to and through World War II to the bitter end. He also describes the five years he spent after the war in a Soviet POW camp and his return to civilian life. This book idolizes the men who fought for their country had that loyalty abused by Hitler. In one place, he compliments the flexibility of his American foe and the material available to him. It explained to me ...more
Dan
Jun 03, 2016 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stephen Ambrose's name is on the cover for a reason. It's a WWII book worth reading!

What is it about WWII that I can't get enough of? It's the greatest lesson we never learned from, outside of how to make better weapons, better soldiers and convenience food. For me, the opportunity to read a book from the perspective of a German soldier is profound in itself. So to read how this proud gentleman found his way into the war and the consequences he faced is a revelation.

You'll be shocked many times,
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Russell
Oct 06, 2016 Russell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book for the learned connoisseur of WWII specifically from the German perspective. Hans Von Luck a Colonel in the German Army saw action on literally every front of WW II and served directly beside legendary German generals such as Erwin Rommel. As history is dictated by the winner, the German perspective has largely been lost on the modern world. The feats they endured and acheived militarily, then lost due to ignorance of Hitler, are likely to be the last of its kind in the modern ag ...more
Malquiviades
There are many WWII soldiers that put their memories to print.

Here you have a memorable view of the other side of the hill (the loser side), told by a simple man and soldier that made it through the killing in most fronts (Poland, France, Russia, North Africa and Italy) and abode prison in a USSR gulag in the aftermath of the war.

He met most of the renown German commanders. He put a fight when it was time to do it. The accounts of those are remarkable.
But this is not a tale of how he fought a
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Hugh
Aug 29, 2007 Hugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A top-notch memoir of World War II. However, I frankly have difficulty believing the author's war record. He claims to have been sent on a special mission by Guderian, Kesselring and Rommel to persuade Hitler and OKW to allow the Afrika Korps to withdraw to Sicily after the Americans landed in Morocco and Algeria. Maybe it is true--the verifiable parts of Luck's record are equally astonishing (he was one of the youngest Colonels in the Werhmacht, was repeatedly elevated by Rommel to high positio ...more
Amit
Dec 07, 2010 Amit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A simple and concentrated memoir of Von Luck. One factor which particularly attracted me is, that Von Luck has always improvised with inadequate man power, machinery and support of superiors.

Von Luck has kept himself afloat under these dire circumstances. He did not tried to connect his failures to his compromise on resourcing front.

This books also provided me details on another factor which made me understand the gaps in civil and military society. Luck was not able to mold himself in civilian
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Deodand
I wonder why this book disappeared into near-obscurity in the last few years? I'd think that any amateur historian would want to at least sit down and talk with Von Luck - and this is as close as you're going to get, now that he is deceased. His story is quite well-polished for civilian audiences, which may be a liability to some. Like the rest of us, Von Luck tends to throw a veil of nostalgia over the grosser aspects of war.

Still, this book is quite a full meal. You're not going to hear tell o
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Jason
Sep 02, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hans von Luck was a most extraordinary man. Following family tradition, he volunteered for service in the German army in the late 20s, and so was one of the first into Poland on day one of WW2. Thereafter he served in France, Russia, North Africa, and Normandy, before finally being captured by the Russians on the outskirts of Berlin. Along the way he earns the respect of everyone he encounters, including Rommel and even some senior members of the French Resistance, who remain his friends long af ...more
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Hans-Ulrich Freiherr von Luck und Witten (a.k.a. Hans von Luck) was a German army officer from 1929 until he was captured by Soviet forces in 1945; by which point he had earned the Knight's Cross, German Cross in Gold, and Iron Cross 1st & 2nd Class. By that time he had also been promoted to the rank of Colonel. He served in several theatres during World War II, including France and North Afri ...more
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“to which every Wehrmacht unit from the regiment up had to appoint an NFO, “National Socialist Leadership Officer” (Nationalsozialistische Führungs-Offizier), whose job was to keep a political eye on the unit and its command.” 1 likes
“inculcated with a healthy national consciousness.” 1 likes
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