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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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,931 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
The story of a soldier who was awarded his country's highest military decorations, including the German Cross in gold and the Knight's Cross. Commander of Germany's 21st Panzer division during World War II and a protege of Field Marshall Rommel, Colonel Hans von Luck served in an army that is widely regarded as one of the most powerful in history. His memoirs provide a fir ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 310 pages
Published September 1st 1989 by Praeger Publishers
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David
May 14, 2015 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
...more
Karl Lazanski
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eastern-front
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said by others! This memoir is really easy and enjoyable to read. Whether it is intentional or just plain honesty it is hard not to like and respect, not just the officer but the man that was colonel hans von luck!
He describes in depth every theatre of the Second World War he was involved in, not just briefly but I believe in a very easily understandable way. His experiences were and still are relevant for today's people, of not just the br
...more
Bill
Nov 04, 2012 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
Jeff Clay
Oct 12, 2014 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
...more
Dorin
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's always hard to see memoirs as objective stories - Hans von Luck's memoirs make no exception. His evolution in the German army to the rank of colonel is interesting - he fought in France under Rommel, on the Russian front, almost reaching Moscow, in Africa under Rommel again - at his request, becoming quite intimate with the Desert Fox, then defended in France during Operation Goodwood, escaping the Falaise pocket, and defended against the Russians while commanding one of the combat units tr ...more
Dhiraj Sharma
Feb 12, 2013 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
...more
Brendan Monroe
Your feelings about this book are almost certain to be determined by your willingness to believe that there were "good Germans" serving in Germany's armies in WWII. The only way these Germans may have existed, you may think, is for them to have had no idea of what went on in the German concentration camps.

German Colonel Hans von Luck claims that he and his men had no idea of what went on "behind the barbed wire" of the concentration camps, which then raises another question - is it possible for
...more
Jesse Kraai
Oct 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fucking great war memoir and belongs alongside Ernst Juenger's In Stahlgewittern. I'm going to just make a couple personal points.
-Like with Juenger I kept coming back to now and thinking: You think you have problems? You don't have problems. And also, as Americans, we didn't really suffer in WWI or II. The Civil War was our drama.
-As a young person reading about WWII Germany I thought, like many others, that 'I' would have done something if I had been there. Burned some shit down, I d
...more
Frank
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
No spoilers.
In all my reading of World War 2, this is my first reading of memoirs of a German soldier. With that I must say that the writing was smooth, and was more of a character study ythan dates, facts numbers which was a departure.
Probably for me, the passages regarding Rommel were the best. To see the human side of a historical figure portrayed is always illuminating.
The flip side of this memoir, has been argued why this soldier didn't quit if he knew what Hitler and the Nazi's were doing.
...more
James
Mar 07, 2008 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.
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
...more
Née
Jan 05, 2014 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
...more
Ravi Singh
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most readable German accounts of WWII. This book has been written with a wide audience in mind and will appeal to the whole range of readers, military, non military, allied, axis , young and old. The writing is simple with the content being king. The author participated in an impressive list of significant theaters and battles of WW II from Poland to Russia to Africa and Normandy. He even survived five years in captivity in Russian camps.

Forget the criticism and some of the negative
...more
Kris
Oct 10, 2012 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 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.
Laurence
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating.
So many famous European theatres of WWII from the perspective of one man.
Paul Brimhall
Apr 25, 2015 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.
Mark
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting and also curious book.
Hans Von Luck had an amazing career that sent him from Poland, to the invasion of the lowlands, to the Barbarossa campaign, and then to North Africa with the Afrika Corps. But it doesn't stop there of course. Von Luck was then a key figure in the German defence against Overlord, before eventually being transferred back to the Russian Front where he was captured and sent to a Russian Camp.

The actual second world war component of the book is to me, curious. The
...more
David
Sep 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is heavy on name dropping and generalisations and short on the detailed combat of many of von Luck's contemparies who have also written accounts. It seems sanitized thereby and the intensity is lost.

I enjoyed some of The Desert passages and especially the captivity in Russia. There is too much lacking in authentic battle scenes to raise this above anything over than slightly interesting. There are much better accounts out there that encapsulate the attritional day to day of this war,
...more
Michael
Another great memoir from the enemy's perspective. Stands out as one of the best. Always interesting to have the story from a leader. Most of the WWII war-stories are told from the front-line soldier's POV. Few commanders lived through the war and fewer lived long enough to experience the bottomless interest in WWII starting in the 90's. This is one of the special cases where Luck decided to leave us with a wealth of knowledge. Not just a commander, but a human. Involved in some important operat ...more
Daniel
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better WWII memoirs I've read and from an individual who basically saw it all from the invasion of Poland and France to North Africa to the battle on the West and Eastern fronts. The Memoirs is simple in prose and is at times very thought provoking.

This and "Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier" are the two best German WWII memoirs I've read. This one told from a commanding officer in the Tank Corp the other a lower level officer in the infantry, combined they give you a perspecti
...more
Tim Pafundi
This one got more interesting as the book progressed. In the beginning, the author sounded like he was on a grand vacation instead of being in war. However, as the war progressed and things turned sour for Germany, he was moved around to the various theaters of war. After being captured by the Russians and taken prisoner after the war, he gave a very insightful behind the scenes look at how they dealt with the Russians and how on many occasions, beat them at their own corrupt games. Overall, not ...more
Phil Jeffery
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a brilliant story! Covering all theatres of war except the Pacific, this book gives the reader an insight not only into the German perspective of the Second World War, but also insight at a company and regimental level not often told. Most memoirs are from either the fighting soldier or general, so to have the memoirs of someone at the front and who is also in command is somewhat unique. Will come back to read this again.
Chris Allum
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: main, military
This came recommended by a friend given my recent interest in war history and in particular tanks. An enlightening memoire. I have really enjoyed this and will be looking for further memoires relating to Rommel and British tank commanders to try and get a complete picture. I was fascinated to read how after the war Hans was frequently invited to speak to British military students about tank warfare and the tactics employed. I would certainly recommend this.
Milo Vukelich
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read from "the other side"

A lot of soldiers in WW II did their duty for a variety of reasons. Some in vacuums as to the political and humanitarian reality that we all know. Colonel Hans Van Luck was one of these men. Loyal to his country and his men, yet understanding of the futility of war and it effects on soldiers and non soldiers alike. In PANZER COMMANDER von Luck gives not only a narrative of the tactics and struggles of war, but his observations on the stupidity and humanity of othe
...more
Kurt
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Far be it from me to add a star to anything Nazi. No, far from it. Hans von Luck was in every theatre of WWII, in the regular Wehrmacht, and his auto biography reads more as a primer for will and discipline, something I was sorely in need of when I first read this way back when. From what I remember he was an honourable man caught up in obscene times.
Timo Aun
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Didn't know such a good book written by the other side has been written! While for the first few hours it was quite boring to listen, the second half was very interesting and humane. That book helped me have a clearer view on World War II and the German officer side of it.
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.
Roberto Lopez
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!! I was sad I finished it.

Showed the war on all fronts! From the beginning at Poland, the fast sweep towards France, eastern war with Russia, then Afrika, Normandy & the war with USA and back to Russian front again. Thank you Hans Von Luck!!
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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
More about Hans von Luck...
“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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