Guide Soldaten - On Fighting, Killing and Dying: The Secret Second World War Tapes of German POWs

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Sonke Neitzel shared the material with renowned and bestselling psychologist Harald Wezler and they set about trying to make sense of the vast piles of documents, the hours of transcripts.

Published to huge acclaim and controversy in Germany it was a number one bestseller there and reignited the debate about the banality of evil under the Nazi regime. He is the author of seven books, including Tapping Hitler's Generals and Soldaten. Harald Welzer is a sociologist and social psychologist, Professor for Transformation-design at the University of Flensburg, as well as Executive Director of the foundation FuturZwei.


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His main foci of research and teaching are memory, group violence and socio-cultural climate impact research. His books have been translated into 15 languages. However, the authors conclude that ordinary soldiers had strikingly little interest in the Holocaust , preferring to swap stories about medals and comrades.

Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing, and Dying by Sönke Neitzel

Time and again, the prisoners display what the authors term "cognitive dissonance", whereby they hold seemingly contradictory views. The transcripts also suggest that some of the best-known cliches are unfounded: Nor do their discussions support the idea of a decline in morale towards the end of the war. Deftly translated by Jefferson Chase, these transcripts constitute an invaluable historical document precisely because the prisoners did not know that they would become a "source".

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Unlike memoirs, interviews or legal records, there is no personal agenda, nor are these conversations prejudiced by the kinds of ex post facto knowledge that can distort retrospective discussions. Instead, they offer "live" commentary on how the war was unfolding from the German perspective. In this, they are a military counterpart to the civilian perspective recorded in the anonymous diaries published as A Woman in Berlin.

Soldaten: On Fighting, Killing and Dying by Sönke Neitzel and Harald Welzer – review

The psychological analysis offered by the authors, meanwhile, is insightful and largely persuasive. A trove of transcripts of bugged recordings providing specific, startling evidence that German soldiers in World War II were not just following orders. He is the author of seven books, including Tapping Hitler's Generals and Soldaten.

╬ World War 2 - The true unseen side of German Soldiers ╬

Harald Welzer is a sociologist and social psychologist, Professor for Transformation-design at the University of Flensburg, as well as Executive Director of the foundation FuturZwei. His main foci of research and teaching are memory, group violence and socio-cultural climate impact research. His books have been translated into 15 languages.

The documents were the transcripts of German prisoners of war talking among themselves in prisoner of war camps, and