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We Germans

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  47 ratings  ·  36 reviews
When a young British man asks his German grandfather what it was like to fight on the wrong side of the war, the question is initially met with irritation and silence. But after the old man's death, a long letter to his grandson is found among his things.

That letter is this book. In it, he relates the experiences of an unlikely few days on the Eastern Front - at a moment
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Kindle Edition, 208 pages
Expected publication: May 14th 2020 by John Murray
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
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Sid Nuncius
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We Germans is a thoughtful and involving book from an unusual and revealing perspective. It is in the form of a letter from a German veteran of the Eastern Front in the Second World War, responding to his British grandsons questions about the war. He concentrates on a period of just a few days in autumn 1944 when the long, ruinous retreat from Russia has turned into an undignified, exhausted, straggling scramble to evade the pursuing Russian forces. There are reminiscences and digressions which ...more
Gram
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book comprises a long letter from a German grandfather to his British grandson about his final days on the Eastern Front as a Wehrmacht soldier retreating from the Red Army's onslaught.
As he acknowledges that Germany is about to suffer its final defeat, he realises that it deserves to. In telling of the confusion and horrors that he and his small band of comrades experienced in a few days, he tries to make sense of his part in blame for Nazi Germany's conduct throughout World War II in
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Diamond
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I'm really glad that I've got the e-copy of this book and read it with a great interest. When I saw the description, I thought "well, this is another book about WWII" But when I began to read, I understood that this book is all about emotions, morals and attitudes. We have a lot of questions about the past and we blame each other for mistakes that were made in the past, but we never thought about the true reasons
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Keith Currie
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Know thyself

The Scottish grandson of a WW2 German soldier asks his grandfather what were his experiences in the war. The old man refuses to answer and sulks. Years later the grandson finds a letter left to him by his now deceased grandfather. In it is an account of his experiences on the Russian Front, focusing on a 24 hour period during the German retreat in the closing months of the war.

The novel is the old soldiers letter, including footnotes and commentary by the grandson. The short period
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Alyssia Cooke
We Germans is a fiction book that reads like a non-fiction, although this doesn't make it any less accessible or interesting. Set out as a letter from a grandfather to his grandson, in it he depicts the time he spend on the Eastern Front as a German soldier. This is an unusual approach to World War II fiction, as most focus on the Allies in the age old platitude that 'history is written by the victors'. What emerges is a thoughtful and revealing account of how the initial buoyancy of victory was ...more
Dave Wheeler
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well wow were do I start, one man British asked his German Grandad what's it like to fight on the wrong side of the war, later he gets an answer written by his Grandad full of emotion and truth from his view point. Obviously this is referring to the Second Works War and it feels an obvious point but the further away we move from that era the more the population has moved on, the enemy now for the British is ISIS & supporting nations but then some of our country or population will support ...more
Miss R
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to John Murray Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


"We Germans" is a an accomplished forensic examination of the human condition - thoughtful and erudite.

Alexander Staritt's "We Germans" is one of the most powerful, urgent novels about the human condition I have read in a long while. The premise is straightforward: a dialogue in letter form between a young British man and his German grandfather about the latter's experiences of World War II, on the Eastern
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Nolwenn
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
We Germans is a thought-provoking book, narrating WWII from a German soldier's perspective. Since I started learning German and now that I live in Germany, I've always been interested in the point of view of the population and the "normal soldiers" back then. Why didn't they do anything? What could they have done? Did they even know what happened? When and how did they realise there might be more to it than they thought? I asked German friends if they talked to their grandparents and have ...more
Melanie Thomas
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read a novel like this before and, honestly, I'm not even sure where to start as far as reviewing it goes. Told mainly from the point of view of an old German man who fought for the Nazis in World War 2, the novel is essentially his letter to his British-born grandson, Callum, answering the younger man's questions which the grandfather hadn't felt able to answer in person or, indeed, during his lifetime, as the letter is delivered to Callum following the older man's death.

It touches
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Ionarr
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book makes me finally understand why people are so into war stories. I actually stopped several times while reading it to reconsider, basically, my entire life.

The fact it's set in the Eastern front and is from the point of view of a German means that this was quite different from the handful of other WW2 books I've read (and what limited knowledge I have of the time). The novelty definitely helped keep my interest, and may have contributed to how profound I found it, but ultimately the
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Robert
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's 1944, and the German Army is in full retreat in Eastern Europe. Against this setting, a small party of German soldiers are sent out to forage for food. Their search is successful, but success comes at a price: a growing awareness of the futility of war and an accumulation of senseless brutality. This book tells that story through the eyes of one soldier in the foraging party, Meissner, and is told retrospectively in the form of a letter to his British born grandson, Callum.

Although the book
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D Jackson
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although an avid reader of historical novels and especially those set in the World Wars, I cannot remember the last one I read that was set on the Eastern Front. 'We Germans' has made me realise my ignorance and sparked my enthusiasm for finding out more about this side of European history.
At first I found the dual dialogue technique employed affected the flow of this telling but, as the story developed, I not only found myself desperate to know what the Grandfather experienced in his soldiering
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Joanne Cartwright
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written book, dotting between sections of a letter written by a grandfather to his grandson, describing his war and the grandsons reactions. I could have done with some better breaks between the 2 narratives as there were places where it was confused as to whose perspective you were reading but that may be due to the ARC formatting.
Fighting on the Eastern front, the Grandfather is an ordinary young German man, with aspirations to become a scientist and to attend University to study. He
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Georgina Kamsika
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
I had just watched Jojo Rabbit when I picked up We Germans. The film is a farcical comedy but it has a similar theme that innocent or gullible or vulnerable people can be swept up into more monstrous things.

It is unusual for us to see WWII stories from the point of view of the German side. We Germans takes the form of a Grandfather writing a letter to his British born grandson. Most of the novel covers a short period of time in 1944 where a young man who dreamed of studying chemistry is trapped
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Claire  Longley
A Different Spin.

I have read a lot of historical fiction based around World War Two and most are centred from prisoners of Auschwitz. This gave a refreshing twist as it gave it from another POV as well as being completely different in the writing style. 

This is done mostly part as a letter from a German Soldier, who years later is trying to explain his role and thoughts on the War, to his grandson. 

He explains how things were for him and other soldiers in the war rather than just focusing on the
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PETER MICHAEL
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many books have been written about the Eastern Front in WW2, but few are drafted from the perspective of a young war-weary German foot soldier. The British author skilfully intertwines a letter from his German Grandfather with his own mixed emotions of his childhood and the awful events described in the letter. The letter explains the reasons why the Grandfather did not wish to discuss with his adolescent Grandson, any aspect of his part in the war. I am only too aware that most combat veterans ...more
Nicki
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel reads like non-fiction. It is written by a grandson telling his grandfather's story, with the help of letters left for him. I don't know if it is based on a real story, but it reads like it is. My dad only reads non-fiction but I think he would like this and I am going to buy it for him. It took a little while to be absorbed, but I am glad I persevered.
The grandfather in the story fought on the Eastern Front and his description of a few weeks during the German retreat in 1944/5 is
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Roselyn
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We Germans is (loosely) a letter from a grandfather to his grandson about his time served in the war.

I love historical fiction and have read a fair few based during WWII, but none from a German point of view in the Eastern Front.

A devastatingly beautiful read which leaves you questioning all your thoughts and opinions of German soldiers.

To start off with, I didn't like that I was questioning my opinion of German soldiers - aren't they all Nazis who murdered Jews? But, i love that it did make me
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Emma
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Callum is a British man who asks his German grandfather what it was like fighting on the wrong side of WW2. His grandfather is reluctant to answer. However, after is grandfathers death, Callum finds a letter addressed to him. The letter is the book. Callum's grandfather details his time on the eastern front.

I have read a number of fictional stories about WW2 but not from the perspective of a German solider which is why I was keen to read this book. I really enjoyed the letter parts of
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Anne
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for this ARC.

I liked the premise of this book in that it offered an alternative perspective of WWII told by a German soldier and his part in the war when on the Eastern Front. I found this to be a thought provoking, well written and interesting book that described the soldiers experiences of war during his time at the Eastern front. The book is told in form of a letter to grandson Callum, and read after his grandfathers death. Quite harrowing in
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Emily
Jan 29, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is interesting to see WW2 from the Eastern front, as the author states it was far more brutal there. Yet I found it a bit boring in places. I would have preferred to read more about the Grandad's life after the war as he seemed a nice chap! Also he had already been at the front for 4 years and we only got a taste of his life there, albeit the most traumatic part. I would have been interested to read about his life in captivity in Russia also, but I assume that the grandchild already knew ...more
Victoria
We Germans is a thought-provoking novel, told in the form of a letter from grandfather to grandson, recalling the experiences of his final days on the Eastern Front during WW2. The letter is interspersed with thoughts from his grandson, which added to the narrative by providing a contrast between the horrific events of WW2 and the modern day.

I found the novel interesting as the majority of WW2 novels I have read have been told from a British perspective, however the pacing of the story was
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Steve Capel
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born as I was in 1945 six months before the end of WWII .my early years were coloured with a particularly English view of the war. The comic books we read as children mainly showed wild depictions of the war in western Europe or Nort Africa. The war on the eastern front did not exist for us then. Even today in my mid-seventies if I think of the war at all it is Dunkirk, Arnhem and D-Day that spring to mind.
This short novel written from the perspective of a German soldier fighting on the eastern
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Diane
Feb 06, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
The premise of the book is an English grandson asking his German grandad what it was like to fight on the wrong side of the war. Grandad writes him a letter, that the grandson doesn't find until after the Grandad has died. The letter is a heartfelt, honest account of his time on the eastern front. He talks about his feelings, what he saw, what he did and how he has dealt with feelings of shame and guilt. He questions if what he did isn't what anyone would do in that situation, how the war ...more
Elaine
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasnt sure about what this book was going to be like. Told from the point of view of a German young man during the Second World War, this book recounts the experiences of fighting on the Eastern front. I wouldnt say it was a war story, but the story of a person; what they did, but also what they were feeling at the time and then years later. Parts were not pleasant reading, but the descriptions made them vivid. Although it isnt the most exciting/thrilling book Ive read, I really enjoyed it. ...more
Allison Valentine
We always read,watch and have been told about our very brave and heroic are British army are,which I totally agree.
This novel shows a different side from a German's point of view which I love and find intriguing.
There is not enough books regarding their time in WW11 and that's a shame.
After the grandson asked his grandfather's role in the war,he couldn't tell him at the time but after he died he found a lengthy letter about his time as a day to day events that went on.
Such a compelling and
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Simon Clayton
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent insight to the visceral nature of war, the macabre humour and random good fortune. Descriptive in the detail of combat and hardship I could smell and taste the environment being inhabited.
I enjoyed the twin aspects of modern life and the harsh realities of war. Told with good humour, humility and a sharp honesty, no punches are pulled in respect of how war impacts the human psyche.

A recommended read for anyone interested in a different perspective of WWII
Martin Weller
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting insight and view of the 2nd world war from a German soldiers point of view. The relationship between those that were there and those that followed. nicely written with just enough detail to submerge into the story and understand the perspectives from both sides. Not my normal choice but please to have been given the opportunity to read and enjoy it.
Barbara
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As we are approaching the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2 in Europe, I was interested in reading about the war from the perspective of a German soldier. This book offered a good insight into how ordinary Germans weren't necessarily in agreement with their commanding officers. Not a long story but very thought provoking.
Lucy
Jan 27, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intimate portrait of life as a German soldier on the Eastern front of the Second World War, portrayed in a letter from a grandfather to his grandson, discovered after his death.

Full of emotion, and graphic with detailed scenery, this is a quick yet impactful read.
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