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Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) Paperback – 6 Jul 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New edition edition (6 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304354988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304354986
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,244 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Early in 1935 I applied for the signals branch of the Navy because a technical training was offered. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Giles Hamilton on 10 Oct 2002
Format: Paperback
Wolfgang Hirschfeld risked his own life by writing a secret diary. He worked as a radio operator, serving shortly on a torpedo boat, and after on two u-boats(U-109 and U-234). Hirschfeld explains that contrary to popular belief, there were not a huge number of eager volunteers to the u-boat arm of the Naval service, in fact quite the opposite. Hirschfeld himself was 'press ganged' into becoming a u-boat man.
Although this is a good read, it does not have the addictive quality present in both 'Iron Coffins' or 'Das Boot'. There is not the same degree of tension in the sea battles, and it not so easy to bond with the crew members. It is very hard to fault the two aforementioned books, 'Das Boot' being my personal preference.
This book was good, 'Das Boot' and 'Iron Coffins' are better. However, if you have the time, I can recommend reading all three.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Chris Gordon on 19 April 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book, as I have a major interest in U-Boots. This book has been very well written, and is easy reading. The subject matter is fascinating, and harrowing at times, and, although not as detailed as something like Das Boot, is still a great contribution to allowing us to see how the U-Boot crewman lived.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 July 2001
Format: Paperback
I was particularly interested in this book because my Uncle's ship was U-109's last victim with Hirschfeld onboard. His facts are quite accurate and it was an eerie experience reading of the attack from the U-boat's perspective. Shame he failed to mention that 23 of the survivors spent 49 days in a lifeboat before they were eventually picked up just north of the equator. An excellent book but Iron Coffins remains the definitive personal U-boat account.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By barry.turnbull@barclays.net on 12 Dec 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the extraordinary first hand account of a U-Boat crew member. It is a gripping story of terror under the seas, of men who were cooped up in aqua pilchard tins with only a mimimal chance of survival. The author offers a candid and yet quite detached story of what it is like to be the hunter and the hunted. This was a decent man, an ordinary soldier, unfettered by the Nazi propaganda machine who sees his enemies as no more than poor unlucky bastards like himself. A real eye-opener.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 July 2001
Format: Paperback
This book covers Wolfgang Hirschfeld's time as a U-boat telegraphist and hydrophone operator through several U-boats and patrols, plus his (pretty much enforced) Naval career before and a brief part of his time after World War 2.
Hirschfeld's story is an amazing one, and this book could have been four times the size and still been a fascinating read - but herein lies it's problem. It simply isn't detailed enough, and somehow it fails to capture the terror, tension, fear and claustrophobia of U-boat life - something Das Boot (The Boat) captures with incredible and unforgettable force.
The problem may be that this one book covers the whole war, wheras Das Boot covers just one patrol. I also suspect that Buchheim's diary was far more detailed than Hirschfeld's diary - if only because Hirschfeld's was against all U-boat regulations.
If you want facts, figures and dates, however, this is certainly the book to buy. Recommended, but get Das Boot as well.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ubootfahrer on 29 Aug 2012
Format: Paperback
I purchased an earlier version of this book primarily because of my interest in U-234 and her cargo. These matters are covered in some detail in the final two chapters of this book which has been put together by Geoffrey Brooks, allegedly from conversations and correspondence with Hirschfeld, plus his 'secret diary', of which more later.

U-234 sailed from Japan in mid-April 1945 carrying a number of important passengers, some of whom were to help the Japanese produce the Me 262 jet aircraft. The boat also carried some 240 tons of cargo that mainly consisted of spares and general supplies for U-boats, U-boat bases and other German naval stations in East Asia, but also included 93 tons of various items for the Japanese armed forces. For many years, stories about the latter have centred primarily on 560 kgs of uranium oxide and claims that at least one complete example of an Me 262 jet aircraft was aboard. While it is true that U-234 was indeed carrying uranium oxide for the Japanese Army, prompting lurid speculation about its purpose, exactly why it was being sent to Japan is still not known.

The Hirschfeld/Brooks account of the loading of the uranium oxide is fanciful and absurd, to say the least. According to the book, Hirschfeld apparently stood on the bridge watching two Japanese senior officers on their hands and knees on the foredeck yet was able to see them writing "U-235" on ten 9-inch square containers that were then put into one of the vertical mine shaft containers. That Hirschfeld's eyesight was so good is beyond belief, but the episode is complete invention.
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