Book Review: D-Day Through German Eyes by Holger EckhertzPosted: February 13, 2016
Note added 6/1/18- Sadly since reading and posting this review I’ve been informed about doubts of this book’s veracity. This is a shame as I enjoyed this book and the idea. But given these questions I can not leave the review to stand without comment. I enjoyed the book but it appears to be more fiction than fact. Fiction, of course, is fine. But not when dressed as fact. Apologies.
The events of D-Day are well know and have been retold many times, and yet it’s always told through the eyes of the attacking allies, but here we get the perspective of five German soldiers of what happened that fateful day.
In this book Holger Eckhertz collects some of the interviews his grandfather conducted in the ’50s with veterans and chooses one from each of the landing sites (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword).
The interviews reveal just how overwhelming the onslaught was for the defenders and some of the recollections highlight the horrors of war. It’s not for the faint of heart as some of the descriptions are quite graphic but capture what must have been a chaotic and terrifying experience, it is through luck that these men survived and most stories show the random nature of battle.
It also shows how the Nazi propaganda machine worked with many discussing how they felt they were defending Europe and some confessing to not understanding the motivation and ferocity of the attackers.
One expresses his regret and sadness over the war, as well as his earnest hope that future generations avoid conflict, but in other places some seem proud of their actions. They are not cartoon Nazis, evil without pause, but there are times it makes uncomfortable reading. One in particular seems to still feel they were justified in their actions and another recalls not understanding why a man of the same race would want to kill them.
It shows how the propaganda convinced young men to fight and die. It also gives an insight into the actions of the allies which at times are more vicious and cold than we are used to seeing them as. It shows that both sides were capable of extreme violence, and that it wasn’t as clean cut as movies would have us believe.
It’s a fascinating account with a fresh perspective for a famous and important event. At times is is a little repetitive and some narrators are less likeable than others, but on the whole it’s an interesting and involving read.
Verdict: Well presented and insightful, an interesting oral history from the other side of history. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.