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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Frontsoldaten: The German Soldier in World War II Paperback – June 19, 1997

3.6 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawn from letters, diaries and memoirs, this impressive study presents a rounded, detailed picture of the daily life of the Landser-the ordinary German infantryman of WWII-and takes an unblinking look at the stark realities of combat, particularly on the Russian front, where 80% of the German soldiers fought; the hardships endured; and the crushing anxiety of being surrounded by death and killing. The evidence that surfaces in these pages demonstrates that the remarkable unit cohesion and fighting performance of the Landser was due in large part to the bonds of military friendship inherited from Prussian tradition; Wehrmacht leaders "raised the concept of camaraderie almost to the level of strategic doctrine." The study also reveals ways in which the German soldier embraced ideological commitment to National Socialism and how, encouraged by Nazi propaganda, he was free to engage in virtually unlimited criminality if it was directed against the so-called enemies of the German people. Fritz, who teaches history at East Tennessee State, makes edifying comparisons between the Landser and his American, British and Russian counterparts. His book helps explain why the German army was so relentlessly efficient in battle.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The experience of the British and American common soldier in World War II has been extensively studied. Not so, at least in English, that of his principal opponent, the German Landser (infantryman). Fritz draws on both published and unpublished material, little of it previously translated, to make up for the deficiency. The German soldier survived far more rigorous training than his Allied counterparts (which explains much of his superior proficiency), survived (on the eastern front, at least) indescribable conditions, and was more sympathetic to the objectives and attitudes of National Socialism than has been admitted previously. He also feared death and wounds, mourned comrades overtaken by them, yearned for home, and took a dim view of mud, lice, brutal NCOs, inept or martinet officers, and hostile artillery. In short, he was a soldier doing his duty; the tragedy is that he did it so well in such an abominable cause. Roland Green --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (June 19, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813109434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813109435
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. G Watson VINE VOICE on August 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is an indispensible, if somewhat superficial, look at the ideological motivations of the German soldier (or "landser" as he called himself) during WWII. It is the only book I've ever read that actually attempts to probe the mindset of the rank-and-file soldiers and junior officers who fought Hitler's war rather than dismissing them as brainwashed robots or mindless products of a militant culture, content to "just follow orders."
Author Fritz genuinely wants to understand why the Landser fought so long and so hard, and against such overwhelming odds, for a government that committed such outrageous crimes against humanity. To do this he examines the correspondence of, and some of the memiors and fiction written by, the average Wehrmacht soldier (he excludes works written by veterans of the Waffen SS, because he feels they come from a different place ideologically than the guys in gray). In his examination, Fritz makes a number of assertions, observations and discoveries, some of which are extremely interesting, while others which come off as facile and opinionated.
On the plus side, Fritz does an excellent job of examining how Hitler's promise of a 'social revolution' which would produce a truly classless society by transferring the selfless, all-for-one values of the combat soldier (the 'frontsgemeinschaft') to the whole civilian population (creating the 'Volksgemeinschaft'), intensely motivated millions of young men. He does a fairly poor job of explaining why Germans had such intensely anti-class feelings (it is not generally knpwn that Germany has traditionally had intense class divisions and hatreds going back centuries....see Bailey's excellent work, 'Germans'); the two go hand in hand.
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Mr. Fritz does a remarkable job of painting a picture of the "average" German infantry soldier or Landser by pulling quotes from diaries, letters and interviews. The young men who marched to war under the swastika were motivated, well trained and indeed raised to carry the ideology of the Reich to their enemies. This book does not paint a glorious picture of the Germans, nor does it make the average soldier look like a war criminal. Nor does it glorify war and destruction.
Some of the quotes from the front are remarkably poignant and insightful, especially when one considers the conditions under which they were written and by young men besides. There are two reasons that I did not give this book 5 stars, they are: No photographs, even simple photographs to put faces with the voices in this book would have been incredibly powerful. The photo on the cover of the book is of an SS troop (you can see the edge of the emblem under the knife hilt), which Mr. Fritz claims is different than the average Landser. Two many quotes from the same people are recycled. Mr. Fritz uses some of the arguably better quotes 2 or 3 times in the text. With as many Landsers as were involved in the war, it seems that other voices could have been added to this text to make the points necessary. Guy Sajer is quoted many times, which is a shame since he already has a published voice, so many others do not.
This book also helps to understand how so many fell under the spell of Hitler, when viewed from below, so many of the policies of the Nazi's seem to make sense. Especially when the subjects are immersed in the reams of propaganda generated by the regime.
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Format: Paperback
Fritz takes the reader into the heart and mind of the German infantryman. He presents them as individuals, not merely mindless cogs in the German war machine. The reader comes to realize the incredible suffering that was life on the Eastern front. These men were little more than children placed in circumstances that made them monsters, indifferent to society's conventions or their own human conscience. Unlike another reviewer, I did not find the book heavily padded. The author exhibits a clear and powerful style of writing, reading more like a good novel than a history book. The overwhelming bulk of the book consists of quotations from the Landsers themselves translated from their letters and diaries. Fritz does give a fascinating comparison of the Landser to their American counterparts in the last chapter, but this is hardly padding. All in all, this is a moving account of life for the German infantyman, who has been often ignored in favor of the members of the SS. It is a must-read for any student of military history and World War II, but it is also valuable for those interested in the human soul and how it is altered by the horrors of war.
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Format: Paperback
Stephen Fritz' Frontsoldaten provides compelling reasons for the unrelenting determination of the WWII German Army soldier, or "Landser". (The SS is not discussed.) The overwhelming sense of creating a new order for Germany out of the ashes of defeat in the Great War provide the larger framework within which the "Landser" viewed his purpose in the war. "Kamaradschaft", or comradeship, provided an immediate means to endure the constant fear and difficult conditions on the front-line, as will as the will to fight. Quotes from font-line letters, post-war memoirs, and veterans' reflections from a distance of 50 or more years are exactly what make this book so compelling. Fritz focuses mainly on the Eastern Front, where the war took on extreme ideological, racial, and anti-Semitic dimensions. While I found his treatment of the Landser's opinion or role in the excesses of the war too light, he did not shy away from relating the general acceptance of National Socialism by the German Army soldier. This acceptance is related in the words of the front soldiers themselves as taken from their own letters. Frontsoldaten left me with a stark impression of the German soldier's front line experience--an experience filled with determination, fear, and fatigue, as well as a belief in a leader and an ideology that destroyed millions. Lastly, the haunting photograph on the cover sums up this book very well. The youthful face, filled with fear, exhaustion, and determination, stare out from under a helmut deeply associated with Nazism and German militarism.
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