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Grenadiers: The Story of Waffen SS General Kurt Panzer Meyer (Stackpole Military History Series) Paperback – June 1, 2005
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Meyer's combat career really began with the invasion of Poland in 1939. From there he fought in most of the major battles: Poland, Rotterdam, France, Balkans, Greece, Peloponnesus, Soviet Union and finally France again. In France in 1944 he was commander of the 12.SS-Panzer "Hitlerjugend" division. He was heavily involved with the fighting around Caen and the Falaise Pocket where he was captured.
In British and American histories of Caen and Falaise there is the big argument regarding the British/Montgomery view vs. the American/Patton view. Here is the view of a senior German commander of what happened during the battles. As you might guess, he contradicts both views.
After the war General Meyer was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. This was commuted to life in prison where he actually served nine years. He died in 1961, only 51 years old.
This book is based on an autobiography he wrote shortly after his release from prison, newly translated from the German.
GRENADIERS exists on several levels simultaneously: a pure combat memior by a man who saw a hell of a lot of it, a treatise on the relationship of the Waffen-SS to its putative parent body, the Gestamt or "Total" SS, a spirited defense of the Waffen-SS against the "libels" leveled against it by the victorious Allies and by the postwar German government, and a memior of Meyer's trial for war crimes, his imprisonment (originally a death sentence) and his eventual release. On all these levels it succeeds...so much so that it permenently changed my view of the Waffen-SS. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
As a combat memior, the book is highly entertaining. It begins in media res, with Meyer's antitank unit rumbling into Poland in September 1939, and continues at a steady clip through the campaigns in France (1940) the Balkans (1941), Russia (1941 - 1943) and finally Normandy (1944), during which time he served with many legendary Waffen-SS frontfighters, including Fritz Witt, Max Wünsche, Michael Wittmann, Gerd Bremer, Theodor Wisch, and Sepp Dietrich.Read more ›
Grenadiers is the autobiography of Kurt "Panzer" Meyer, arguably one of the best, if not the best commander in the Waffen-SS. Panzermeyer's military accomplishments include being one of the most decorated soldiers in the German armed forces during World War 2 (Knight's Cross with Swords and Oakleaves, and probably the Diamonds as well had he not been captured) and a promotion to Brigadier General and command of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" at the age of 33, making him the youngest general on either side during the war. Had he not been captured late in 1944, Panzermeyer would have likely been named commander of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and the Battle of the Bulge could have turned out quite differently.
Meyer's account is gripping and grimly realistic, depicting the brutal fighting during the war and the individual bravery of the men under his command. The career of Kurt Meyer is a microcosm of German fortunes during the war: glory, capture, defeat, and eventual rehabilitation. Meyer comes out as extremely modest (he credits his men for earning him his awards and promotions) and fearless (he led from the front and was wounded numerous times and several of his drivers were killed fighting alongside him). Read Panzermeyer's account of how he led his men and his motivational method in leading his men during the Greek campaign. I certainly don't think any officer today would toss a hand grenade into his own men to make them advance, but it does show the fighting spirit of the Waffen-SS.Read more ›
As you read this book you will see that Meyer used great tactics and was very aggresive to achieve success, yet several times he wrote about how scared he was, how he cried many times at the loss of various friends - Not very Hollywood for a warrior - but very real.
The Normandy fighting is highlighted by how extensively the Germans were bombed by artillery, naval guns, four engined bombers, and attack fighters (the fighter planes according to Meyer were the most feared).
For those that beleive most if not all Waffen SS were involved with atrocities, and are annoyed that Meyer does not confess to the atrocities he comitted, should read James Bacque's Other Losses - after May 8th 1945 approximately 1,000,000 German POWs died under the care of the USA and the French - Obviously the majority of American soldiers and officers were not involved in the death of all those POWs.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Kurt Meyer's memoirs can be summed up with his own words "A Memorial to the Waffen SS".
Kurt "Panzer" Meyer fought in Poland, Russia, and in Normandy and... Read more
Bought this for my grandmother, she owns the German version. The hard copy is really nice with many pictures. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Astrid
Really enjoyed this book, hearing the horrors of war from Panzermeyer first hand was very interesting. He was very descriptive with his units different battle situations. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Boris