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Publisher's Summary

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 of the army's own leadership.
©2016 Ben H. Shepherd (P)2018 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Preston on 04-12-18

Very good book about German army unit behaviors

Would you consider the audio edition of Hitler's Soldiers to be better than the print version?

I wanted to understand if different German army units really knew what the Nazi's were up to and if they took part in atrocities knowing Hilter's grand plan and if they were supportive of it. I got a lot of good information regarding these questions from this book. There was a lot of excerpts from German soldier letters and memoirs which the author used to substantiate his beliefs on who did what and why. This can be helpful, but you are working off of individual soldiers opinions and beliefs in what they saw and what they believed at that moment. Can be useful, but also is opinionated statements made by young Germans. Overall a very good book about the German side of WWII. Very well narrated.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Mary A. on 03-23-18

Thorough and scholarly

As an obsessive reader of all things WWII , I saw this book as extremely well-written and chockful of interesting events and interplay between the principals.
Unfortunately, what I didn’t see was why I bought the book..its title.
It was not about Hitler’s soldiers.
I was expecting accounts of the foot soldiers experiences in battle, their attitudes about what they were doing and thinking.
The author quoted excerpts from some soldiers’ letters, but the quotes were sparse and said little about how they felt about anything.
I knew the history. I didn’t know how the ordinary soldier responded to the enormity of the situations in which he found himself.

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By paul hadfeild on 03-24-18

update on how complicit the normal solders

Well worth reading as it shows just how complicit the normal solders were in all the atrocities , not the normal white washed version that has been peddled for years.
This information has been coming out in dribs and drabs the "we were just normal solders doing our duty it was all the ss " myth has been debunked and this book puts it all together.

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4 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Paul B. C on 08-15-18

well researched with a balanced viewpoint.

The book covered the German army from the key pre-era
with references and comparisons to the first world war. it also charted the change in the army as the war progressed until it's final destruction in 1945 using a wide range of references including testimonies from German soldiers and officers after the war. it also balanced the capabilities of both allies and German forces and how they change during the war. With respect to the question "was the German soldier innocent of the atrocities committed?" No one was completely innocent but the indoctrination of younger soldiers prepared them for atrocities especially with to lesser race. However, it was stated that Hitler and his officers were overwhelmingly to blame and other contributing factors such as inadequate means of dealing with prisoners, lack of provisions and food to fight played a great part.

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