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This is not a book I would have normally found on my own. But, a good friend recommended it and I am most grateful that he did. It is a recollection of World War II that everyone should read.
These are the memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck and in it he shares his experiences of his life as an officer in the German army leading up to and through World War II. It also gives his account of the five years he spent after the war in a Soviet POW camp and his eventual return to life as a civilian.
This book is not a glorification or romanticization of war. It is not a defense of Hitler's Germany, nor an apology. It is an explanation of how men who were patriots of their country had that loyalty twisted and abused in Hitler's quest for world domination. It is a view "from the trenches" and gives great insight into both the details of the battles von Luck fought in, and the thoughts and feelings of him and his men through the various stages of the war.
While I did find the narrative bog down from time to time with the details of movements during some of the campaigns, what really makes this book a standout are von Luck's insights into how the German army viewed the war as well as the descriptions of encounters that he had with his enemies both as captor and prisoner. von Luck also brings into this collection additional stories from his companions who got separated from him over the course of the war - of people he befriended in Paris during the time Germany initially occupied it, of subordinates captured by the Americans in North Africa and the time they spent in POW camps in the American Midwest, of the woman who was for a time his fiance before his capture and five year internment.
In war, governments seek to make their citizens see the enemy as something not human. von Luck makes nots of the Nazi propaganda machines efforts to make the German citizens see the Soviets as "sub-humans" at the time that Hitler broke his non-agression pact with Stalin and started the disastrous invasion of the Russian homeland. This book shows that all of these peoples - Russians, Germans, French, Brits, even the Americans - weren't just "others" but were men doing their best to follow the orders of the civilian leaders under difficult circumstances. It is a book anyone who would claim the mandate of leader of a country should read to better understand the human face of war and the young men whose lives are spent engaging in "politics by other means."
For the narration - Bronson Pinchot did an excellent job of bringing this story to life. His inflection, rhythm and accents really made me feel like Colonel von Luck was sitting down in the room with me and telling his story.
23 of 26 people found this review helpful
Han Von Luck was in almost all the theaters of the war. The invasion of France, North Africa, Invasion of Russia, then Normandy and defense of Berlin. He takes you though the battles and politics of the war. Von luck was not a Nazi, but had to live with the insanity of the war and prison in Russia. He was an exceptional man who was not bitter after years of war with limited supplies, and then he endured years of captivity in the Russian coal mines including a punishment camp. Yet he has good things to say about everyone, North Africans, the allies and even the Russians. He was later released and was not able to get a good job since he was a war officer. He endured all over a decade, and kept his spirits and head up. He is an example of a great spirit, a survivor, and a man of character. Someone to look up to.
14 of 17 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up Panzer Commander in three words, what would they be?
Honest, forthright and non-sensasional
What did you like best about this story?
The very sincere way he felt about the fighting
Which scene did you most enjoy?
The journey back home and his feelings of the world he was now away from
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Any additional comments?
He was a very honest man who must have felt bad that he was tarred with the brush of Nazism
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This guy took part in almost every theatre of the war. Gives a fascinating insight into the life of the average soldier in detail rarely told, a must read for anyone interested in military history, especially from the German perspective!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about Panzer Commander?
This was a great insight into WWII from the other side.
Any additional comments?
It is not often that we in the Allied countries get to hear a story from the Axis point of view. Quite an eye opener at times, and it reinforces the point that the average German Soldier was just a normal person like all our grandfathers.
What was one of the most memorable moments of Panzer Commander?
The brutal murder of a German Army NCO by Nazi henchmen for the crime of having a meal in a tavern while his vehicle was being repaired.
Any additional comments?
Amazing insight into a German Army officer combat experiences.