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Grenadiere (German) Hardcover – Apr 2005


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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Gripping acoount by one of the best Waffen-SS Commanders 13 April 2000
By wonderrat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Grenadiere (English translation Grenadiers) is the autobiography of Kurt "Panzer" Meyer, arguably one of the best, if not the best commanders in the Waffen-SS. Kurt Meyer'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 likely the Diamonds as well had he not been captured) and a promotion to 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. 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). As commander of the reconnaisance batallion of of the 1st SS Panzer Division "LAH", Meyer earned his reputation as a soldier willing to take risks. His later career in the Hitlerjugend was marked by accusations that he ordered the execution of Canadian prisoners during the fighting in Normandy while in command of the 12th SS Panzer Division. Meyer was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and eventually Meyer was released after serving ten years. One interesting tidbit. Meyer was probably saved by a petition written on his behalf by Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, the archbishop of Muenster and a noted anti-Nazi. Also, Canadian troops were accused of killing German prisoners as well at Normandy (also, Robert Graves mentions in his own autobiography that Canadian troops frequently murdered German prisoners during World War 1). Even Canadian journalists and officers confirm this in their attempts to overturn what was probably an unjust decision. Passions run hot in battle and unfortunate incidents often occur. Meyer probably had no knowledge of the actions taken by some of his troops (although Wilhelm Mohnke, one of Meyer's regimental commanders, probably condoned the execution of prisoners- Mohnke has been accused of war crimes commited against British prisoners in 1940, against Canadians in 1944, and possibly knowing about the events in Malmedy, although he only served time as a POW and never was placed on trial). Meyer was the victim of victor's justice.
Meyer, to his credit showed no rancor towards his captors and frequently praises the bravery of his enemies, including Soviet troops. The book is relatively free of any political views, even though Meyer was a member of the Nazi Party, as were most of the high-ranking SS officers. There is an English language version of the book out, so if it is available, buy it and be enthralled. One irony, Meyer died on his 50th birthday while trying to petition the German government to grant Waffen-SS veterans the same rights as other German veterans of the war, a goal which remains unfulfilled.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Exploits of "Panzermeyer"! 30 Mar. 2001
By Rodger Raubach - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Kurt "Panzer" Meyer was undoubtedly one of the more incredible military figures of World War II , and I was indeed fortunate to obtain an English translation of his autobiography. The writing style is very stacatto and direct,with short chapters; the effect tends to be riveting and the descriptions of combat are heightened by this style.
I found Meyer's exploits in the Balkans and in Russia as a Panzer recon group commander to be "textbook" examples of audacity! As the commanding officer of the Recon Batallion of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler in the Balkan campaign,Meyer siezed Greek fishing boats, loaded on his troops and some armored cars , and performed an amphibious end run around the retreating British army , resulting in his award of the Knights Cross. With the dictum "the motor is a weapon" familiar to his troops , Meyer gave real meaning to the definition of "Blitzkreig".
Panzermeyer assumed command of the 12th Waffen S.S. Panzer division in Normandy upon the death of the division commander. Meyer describes the young men of the Hitlerjugend division in glowing and heroic terms; these young men were actually just boys--doing a job most grown men would fear. The Oak leaves and Swords to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross awarded to Meyer were modestly attributed to his heroic men/boys.
Meyer was subsequently captured by the Canadian army , and Meyer was tried for war crimes. Meyer was a convenient scapegoat in the postwar hanging spree. His execution was later commuted to a life in prison sentence , and his release was later arranged through the Catholic church after 10 years of imprisonment.
The book is on my "must read" list for anyone desirous of a glimpse of the war from one of the truly exciting and outstanding officers of the Waffen S.S. This is not a work of fiction , and it is not highly polished by professional ghostwriters. It is not an easy task to find an English translation , but it is well worth the effort!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
True Believer 29 July 2000
By Spudgun - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I must recommend this book for anyone interested in WW2, especially the fighting in Normandy in the summer of 1944. (There is an English translation published, ironically, in Canada, but good luck finding a copy.) Kurt Meyer's style of writing vividly brings home the reality of the battlefield, even though he frequently lapses into what can only be described as 'purple prose' It must also be remembered that Meyer was a confirmed Nazi and intensely loyal to Adolf Hitler. He retained his beliefs for his entire life after the war. His complicity in the murders of Canadian POW's is undoubtedly true, even though there is no evidence he directly ordered the executions. No commanding officer could possibly be unaware of the cause of regularly spaced gunshots coming from the garden of his headquarters (Abbaye d'Ardenne). He certainly reinforced an attitude of no mercy in his beloved Hitlerjugand SS troops; not surprising considering his previous service on the Russian front, where mercy was an unheard of quality. Anyone interested in reading further about the killing of some 156 Canadian POW's at L'Abbaye d'Ardenne and other locations nearby in Normandy should read 'Conduct Unbecoming' by Howard Margolian. Allied troops undoubtedly killed German POW's, but this almost always occurred either during or shortly after the act of surrender, when adrenaline was flowing and rage barely contained. It was not an act of policy encouraged by senior officers. Anyone who knows anything about the strictness of German military discipline knows that German soldiers do not committ acts which are not either ordered or condoned by their superiors. The laxness of discipline in Allied armies accounted for most of the murders committed by them during the war. However, it should be borne in mind that the Geneva Convention does not recognize retaliation as an excuse for the murder of POW's by anyone. In summary, Kurt Meyer played a significant part in Hitler's war, especially in Normandy, where his 12th SS were primarily responsible for blunting the drive by British and Canadian troops into Normandy after D-Day. Unlike Allied commanders of similiar rank he was often in the thick of battle leading from the front and showing himself to his men, who adored him. He undoubtedly had great personal courage and considerable tactical skill. For those reasons his voice deserves to be heard, but all the young voices he stilled forever through his ruthlessness cannot and must not be forgotten.
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