Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949” as Want to Read:
Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,727 ratings  ·  84 reviews
Paris. The Somme. The Italian Campaign. The Russian Front. And inside Hitler's bunker during The Battle of Berlin . . . World War II through the eyes of a solider of the Reich.

Siegfried Knappe fought, was wounded, and survived battles in nearly every major Wehrmacht campaign. His astonishing career begins with Hitler's rise to power--and ends with a five-year term in a Rus
Mass Market Paperback, 430 pages
Published September 1993 by Dell Publishing Co. (first published June 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Soldat, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Soldat

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,727 ratings  ·  84 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is a memoir of Siegfried Knappe, who ended the war as a Major and was taken captive by the Russians. In many respects his war experience is a typical journey of a career Wehrmacht officer who went through the ranks under the Nazis. The memoir is going back and forth in time, which I found distracting. Knappe wrote diaries and took photographs, so his recall is very good, and I think he'd be better served to keep the memoir in chronological order.

For me the most interesting part of the b
Jason Koivu
Feb 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 He excelled as a soldier, though placed in an outdated, pre-mechanized unit, and soon rose through the ranks, seeing action on nearly all fronts.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
David R. Dowdy
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm trying to find a copy of this book. Why I pass on books that I love, I'll never know (oh, I don't have space). This is a very good, neutral account from a young soldier (soldat) serving in the Wehrmacht. The things he writes about are fairly typical for someone his age and I identified with his writing as I served as a young man. By reading this book, I better understood the highs and lows, the wins and losses, and the death and deprivations noted in many of the stories my Dad told of his ex ...more
carl  theaker
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2

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.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, audiobook
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. ...more
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hookah
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
Jeff Dawson
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I listened to this as an audio book, narrated by John Wray. The reader killed this one for me. While the narrative was interesting, well organized, and reasonably well written, Wray's pronunciation was neither American, British, nor German. A book told through the eyes of a young German soldier might logically be read by someone with a German accent, as was The Book Thief. But this guy butchered German words to the point of making standards unrecognizable. I was a third of the way through the bo ...more
William Webb
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read Soldat at least three times over the years. The Germans wrote a lot of postwar memoirs, many of which are marred by a tendency to tell the western audience what they thought it wanted to hear. Knappe doesn't have to do that. He was a high ranking and highly decorated officer, but he was never a decision maker of the level that he could have been tried for war crimes. He was just a soldier, a soldat, who fought on all the fronts on which the Wehrmacht was engaged. His account of the B ...more
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii, ussr, history
I've been reading WWII books from every side, Russian, American, German.
and it's never gets old or boring.
Two of grandfathers fought the "Great Patriotic War", this is the third book from the German perspective.
and it's one of the best so forth.
Siegfried Knappe is extremely luck guy to survive all the fronts, especially the ost front since most of the brutality was done there.
This is a personal and in-depth story down to the matter of days.
Nov 29, 2016 rated it liked it
In my youth I read hundreds of books about WWII, and although I have seen other accounts by enemy combatants, this is one of the most comprehensive that I have read.
Siegfried Knappe chronicles his years in the Wehrmacht from his joining as a naive teenager, through his time as a prisoner of the Soviet Union.
As a junior artillery officer, Mr. Knappe witnessed firsthand some of the momentous events of the war; the annexation of Czechoslovakia, the invasion of France, the push through Russia towa
Oct 17, 2017 rated it liked it
In an attempt to try to find out what the war was like from the German perspective, I read this book based on the extensive diaries of Siegfreid Knappe. It is quite clear that this man was an obedient soldier of the Wehrmacht, a professional who moved up the ranks, served in different arenas and was wounded. At the end of the war he had access to Hitler's bunker and even contemplated assassinating him, but didn't want Hitler to become a martyr. Surrendering to the Russians in Berlin, spent 5 yea ...more
May 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 German Army 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
Tim Yearneau
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book online spontaneously because it looked kind of interesting and I needed something to read. Well, after reading it I can only say it is fantastic. I love the fact he is a German Soldier giving his own personal insights as a member of the German military. But what made it so fantastic is that he stuck to his own authentic viewpoint and insights and didn't try to give the company line. His personal feelings and emotions are what made it for me. He didn't hold back. If I didn't kn ...more
Paula Dembeck
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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

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.
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Sam Motes
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
How did anyone live through this?
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
An excellent book about the happenings of WWII from a German Soldier's perspective. ...more
Timothy Boyd
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very good bio and history book. Lots of insight into the daily personal life of a German soldier during then war. Very recommended
Not as enjoyable as Hans von Luck's quite similar Panzer Commander, which I recommend heartily if you haven't read it, because Siegfried Knappe simply isn't such good company and lacks von Luck's verve and brio. Another account of the Nazi years and Second World War from the perspective of a professional army officer (horse drawn artillery) whose gradual disillusionment with Hitler and his regime mirrors declining military success.

Knappe served in Poland, France and on the Russian front, and wa
In this memoir, a former major in the German army during WWII remembers his life in the pre-war days through his release post-war from a Russian prisoner-of-war camp.

Knappe appears to be from an upper middle class German family. Knappe does not tell his story chronologically, but rather deals with the end and then looks back at the pre-war and war years while he is transported to Russia. From a chronological view, his memoir starts with a recollection of a skiing trip with 3 good friends after g
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you are looking for gritty battlefield memoir this is not the book. This is an Wehrmacht officer's account as an assistant to an even more high ranking officer in various frontlines where he was sent. I suspect Knappe is a very traditional man and withheld much of the ugliness of the war only divulging small bits of ugly descriptions of what he witnessed. My favorite part is when spent his time in a Soviet prison and how the prison system works along with "antifascist" collaborators etc.. Kna ...more
Aug 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I would rate this as one of the best memoirs of WWII from the German perspective that I've read. After a slow start, it's an approachable and surprisingly engaging work. No surprise that Knappe worked with a ghostwriter.

Knappe is a bit like Forrest Gump in that he meets so many famous people and experiences so many of the portions of the European theater of WWII. That said, this is not a front line combat account. Being in the artillery, he's typically just behind the front, but he's a acute ob
ℓуηη, ℓσкιѕℓутнєя¢ℓαω
For anyone who's a WW2 history nerd, this memoir provides a unique perspective of a German soldier's experience throughout the war & his subsequent captivity in Russia after the war ended. It's well-written, and dramatically enthralling at times. For someone who has difficulty making it through nonfiction because of tedious wording and textbook type boring style of writing, this memoir is written so well it actually managed to hold my attention! I never got bored and enjoyed it immensely. Highly ...more
ricard flay
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This, along with Antohony Beevor's Stalingrad, Erich Hartman's biography, and Suburo Sakai's Samurai, should be required reading in every high school. The glamorization of violence via nationalism is a coomon socialogical disorder which directly connects us to the insect kingdom. I'm, so glad that this man wound up in the midwest far away from the hoorors he experienced first hand. Whenever a war book is written in which we feel geniune compassion for the people caught up in the grinder of mass ...more
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii-history, audible
I enjoyed the book, description of all military operations and story of a German soldier. Much like Solomon Perel's story, Siegfried Knappe had really tons of luck on his side as many other German soldiers either succumbed to the war or Russians and their mistreatment. I still believe, there was no need to hold regular soldiers prisoners for so long after the war. Those who committed crimes, yes, hold them accountable, trial them, and sentence them, but the rest should have been released after t ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book at the beginning of my military career and I associated a great deal with the author in the first part of the book where he had just graduated from the German equivalent of high school and was beginning his public service and the military obligation to German. The rest of his story is a nice back and forth between the front lines and his advancement into the area of staff officer and the schooling that comes with that.
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck
  • Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front
  • The Forgotten Soldier
  • D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Battle for the Normandy Beaches
  • A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944
  • Black Edelweiss
  • The Thin Red Line
  • With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
  • Matterhorn
  • Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger Knights Cross
  • Roll Me Over: An Infantryman's World War II
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front
  • Tigers In The Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius
  • Panzer Leader
  • Storm of Steel
  • The Bridge of Sighs (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #1)
  • Winter: A Berlin Family, 1899-1945 (Bernard Samson, #0)
  • Stuka Pilot
See similar books…

News & Interviews

Care to travel to past times for some serious drama? Check out this season's biggest historical fiction novels and be transported to tales of...
77 likes · 22 comments