I finished listening to the audiobook “D-Day Through German Eyes” this week. An outstanding book with a series of terrible tales. In contrary to the Saving Private Ryan/Band of Brothers/Western tales that tell the stories of Allied Heroes, it tells the story of D-Day from the point of view of 4/5 German soldiers on the front-line on 6 June. The material for the book was collated in the early 1950s, when the then-30 year olds (who were in their teens or early 20s on D-Day!) retold their stories and recollections to a German author and historian.
The spectacular take-away from the book is that war is awful, war is evil, and that these almost-children were put in horrific positions by a truly evil Government machine. As figurative cogs in the wheel, they saw their friends and family members ground-up, spat-out, and set on fire in rotten situations… but due to dumb luck, they survived to tell the tale.
In addition to the literally frightening descriptions of their own chronological experiences on that fateful day, they talked a little bit about how they saw themselves on the Atlantic Wall in northern France as “Defenders of a United Europe”, and expressed their surprise at how passionate the Allies were. They thought at the time that they were doing a noble service to defend Europe and Europeans against the rich invaders from across the seas.
Three thumbs up for this book for opening my eyes to a perspective that I had never seen before, and one I had thought little of before.