Friday, February 2, 2007

The Wehrmacht by Wolfram Wette

At first I thought this book would be like previous others, mainly outlining what the Wehrmacht did, which SS or Einsatzgruppen they helped in the field, etc. But I was pleasantly surprised that this book is much more than that. It takes the history of the German Armed Forces and puts it into context with the development of the Weimar Republic and then through Hitler's rise to power from 1933-1939.

The reader is presented with factual information from correspondences and speeches, etc, that show the anti-semitic attitude of the higher up echelons of the Armed Forces, eventually both the OKW and OKH. Men such as Manstein might have protested at some point against the fact that Jews (including half and quarter Jews) were being thrown out of the armed forces, but that was more so due to the fact that he had a Jew in his lineage rather than the idea that this was somehow wrong.

All in all I was surprised to personally learn about Ludendorff's and Hindenburg's anti-semitism and how that helped with the 'stab in the back' myth after WWI which blamed the Jews, Communists, among others. Later on the book does dive into the criminal actions that the Wehrmacht perpetrated such as helping with the massacres at Belaya Tserkova and Babi Yar outside of Kiev. After the war itself has been gone over the author delves into the subject of how the myth and legend of the Wehrmacht's 'clean hands' came about.

In the end this book is a very useful addition to WWII history and it presents even more topics that at one point or another need to be covered, something to definitely think about. Well worth the money, the book includes excellent research and well drawn out conclusions based on that research.

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