Hitler's Soldiers The German Army in the Third Reich Ben H. Shepherd

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
03 May 2016
ISBN:
9780300179033
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
664 pages: 235 x 156mm
Illustrations:
16 b-w illus.

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A penetrating study of the German army’s military campaigns, relations with the Nazi regime, and complicity in Nazi crimes across occupied Europe

For decades after 1945, it was generally believed that the German army, professional and morally decent, had largely stood apart from the SS, Gestapo, and other corps of the Nazi machine. Ben Shepherd draws on a wealth of primary sources and recent scholarship to convey a much darker, more complex picture. For the first time, the German army is examined throughout the Second World War, across all combat theaters and occupied regions, and from multiple perspectives: its battle performance, social composition, relationship with the Nazi state, and involvement in war crimes and military occupation.
 
This was a true people’s army, drawn from across German society and reflecting that society as it existed under the Nazis. Without the army and its conquests abroad, Shepherd explains, the Nazi regime could not have perpetrated its crimes against Jews, prisoners of war, and civilians in occupied countries. The author examines how the army was complicit in these crimes and why some soldiers, units, and higher commands were more complicit than others. Shepherd also reveals the reasons for the army’s early battlefield successes and its mounting defeats up to 1945, the latter due not only to Allied superiority and Hitler’s mismanagement as commander-in-chief, but also to the failings—moral, political, economic, strategic, and operational—of the army’s own leadership.

Ben H. Shepherd is reader in history, Glasgow Caledonian University. He lives in Glasgow, UK.

“Excellent. . . . An admirable study.”—Nicholas Stargardt, Wall Street Journal

“Shepherd has written a comprehensive history of the 20th century’s most formidable fighting machine. It is also an unanswerable indictment of the moral cowardice and arrogance of an officer corps who sold their souls to Hitler and allowed him to lead them and their beloved country into the abyss.”—Nigel Jones, BBC History

“An engaging investigation of the German army’s complex relationship with the Third Reich. The author, the Glasgow academic Ben Shepherd, does a sterling job of boiling down the 12 years of Nazi Germany to produce an accessible account of the Faustian pact entered into by German generals…”—Roger Moorhouse, Times (London)

“Highly readable and with great narrative scope, this is an excellent starting-point for anyone who wishes to have a broad overview of WWII from the German military point of view."—Robert Carver, Military History Monthly