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Quest: Searching for Germany's Nazi Past - A Young Man's Story [Hardcover]

Ib Melchior , Frank Brandenburg
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Sep 1991
Here is a true story of a young German's investigation into the years of the Third Reich, into the events that made Hitler's Germany a synonym for evil an d destruction. A dramatic, suspenseful account with all the gripping thrills of a masterful detective story. Photos.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; 1st Edition edition (1 Sep 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891413979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891413974
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 16 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,035,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an account of the search for the truth regarding what has come - since the 1970's - to be called 'the holocaust' that a young German student Frank Brandenburg made in the 1980's. The topic had been brought to a widespread German public attention in a way that it had not been before when in 1979 an American television miniseries called 'Holocaust' had been broadcast on West German TV. He, along with 20 million of his countryfolk (50% of West Germans) saw the TV dramatisation and like many other viewers born after the war had been shocked at what he saw as a fictionalised dramatisation alleging there had been a deliberate and systematic policy of genocide of all Jewry via what were called 'factories of death' in World War II. Brandenburg doubted whether his own countrymen could have commited such a crime in the way that it had been presented and started asking questions.
When his own parents and grandparents claimed to know nothing personally about it, the then teenage Brandenburg decided to try and meet any Germans who had been close to the centres of Third Reich power during WW2 and hear from them direct whether what the American TV dramatisation had portrayed was correct or not. Through a series of phonecalls, meetings and interviews he managed over some years to gain the trust of many leading figures, and thereby gain access to normally reticent and reclusive personalities. This book is an account of that research written by Ib Melchior. Ib Jørgen Melchior (born September 17, 1917) is a novelist, short story writer, film producer, film director, and screenwriter of low-budget American science fiction movies.
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Amazon.com: 2.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and valuable research project destroyed by a Hollywood hack 14 Sep 2013
By Chris Crookes - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an account of the search for the truth regarding what has come - since the 1970's - to be called 'the holocaust' that a young German student Frank Brandenburg made in the 1980's. The topic had been brought to a widespread German public attention in a way that it had not been before when in 1979 an American television miniseries called 'Holocaust' had been broadcast on West German TV. He, along with 20 million of his countryfolk (50% of West Germans) saw the TV dramatisation and like many other viewers born after the war had been shocked at what he saw as a fictionalised dramatisation alleging there had been a deliberate and systematic policy of genocide of all Jewry via what were called 'factories of death' in World War II. Brandenburg doubted whether his own countrymen could have commited such a crime in the way that it had been presented and started asking questions.
When his own parents and grandparents claimed to know nothing personally about it, the then teenage Brandenburg decided to try and meet any Germans who had been close to the centres of Third Reich power during WW2 and hear from them direct whether what the American TV dramatisation had portrayed was correct or not. Through a series of phonecalls, meetings and interviews he managed over some years to gain the trust of many leading figures, and thereby gain access to normally reticent and reclusive personalities. This book is an account of that research written by Ib Melchior. Ib Jørgen Melchior (born September 17, 1917) is a novelist, short story writer, film producer, film director, and screenwriter of low-budget American science fiction movies.

I came to this book after reading Hitler's personal pilot and friend General Baur's autobiography and discovering that towards the end of his life Baur had said more about his understanding of what is called 'the holocaust' when interviewed by Frank Brandenburg. As someone who is currently re-evaluating WW2 history I was interested to learn how the German Third Reich officers and their secretaries regarded the details and events of that global conflict from the safety of their homes in the twilight years of their lives.

The young Frank Brandenburg met and interviewed SS-Gruppenführer Hans Baur and SS-Obergruppenführer Karl Wolff becoming on quite friendly terms with them.
Among others he also met Heinz Lorenz (Adolf Hitler's Deputy Chief Press Secretary), Heinrich Heim, Lutwaffe Ace Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Hitler's favorite Sculptor Arno Breker, Otto Ernst Remer, Lina Manninen (Heydrich's wife), SS Sturmbannführer Dr. Wilhelm Höttl, Dr. Werner Best, Third Reich architect Hermann Giesler, Richard Schulze-Kossens, the wife and son of Rudolf Hess, Brigadeführer Gustav Lombard, Col. Eugene Bird (Commandant of Spandau Prison) and Robert. M. Kempner (an exiled German Jewish Layer who became a chief Nuremberg prosecutor).

Frank Brandenburg's meetings with these people therefore represented a rare last chance to hear from them direct, before their lives ended from old age. This alone makes this research of some historic importance.

Regretably this last chance to allow the world to hear them has been squandered by the sensationalist and exagerated ghost writing of the Danish ex-United States Military Intelligence Service operative who had worked as a military intelligence investigator attached to the Counter Intelligence Corps during the war. Ib Melchior has tried to turn Brandenburg's research into a cloak-and-dagger type of thriller novel and in doing so has attempted to dramatise every encounter by suggesting that the young researcher was in mortal danger by associating with murderous, unrepentant, evil criminals who were currently involved in some vaguely hinted at nefarious clandestine activity.

Reading through this unecesary sensationalist account of what in itself is already a fascinating personal journey I was moved to utter out loud on numerous occassions my dismay at the twisting and over-dramatising of Melchior. Why couldn't we just have the actual conversations without all the padding trying to convince us at every oppurtunity that these were wicked people and Frank was repeatedly naively unaware of what danger he was in and how careful he needed to be! Sheesh. What a load of baloney.

An example of the crude and actually quite unpleasantly hateful demonisation of these old people would be the depiction of the wife of Reinhard Heydrich. Through a description of her appearance alone we are expected to accept that she was some kind of wicked witch. Shockingly simplistic and inhumane.
The allegation of Otto Ernst Remer's involvement as a co-conspirator in the Valkyrie assassination plot is even a clear historical travesty with no credibility, but is offered here as fact but with no supporting reference. Etc., etc. These are just two examples of the distortion of reality posing as historical research.
What a wasted opportunity this book is.
I would genuinely like to read a more unadulterated narration of Frank's interviews without the propaganda designed to destroy any feeling of empathy for these people. Maybe one day his notes and audio recordings will be made available to the public and historians.

SUMMARY:
We never know how much of what we read is 1. the actual transcripts of interviews, or is 2. notes from memory written afterwards or is 3. distorted versions of either of these by the ghost-writer Melchior.
Despite this ambiguity, the over-riding conclusion that emerges from this mix of fact and fiction is that ALL of these people denied there had been a policy of systematic genocide or that there had been extermination camps. They ALL, without exception, claimed only to have heard about this AFTER the war was ended. The book attempts to portray this as being wilful denial by misrepresenting their distinction between 'extermination camps' and 'concentration camps'. But the careful reader will note this is a deception as none of them denied the concentration camps existed, although this book attempts to make us think they did.

CONCLUSION: a wasted opportunity to hear unadulterated the final views of the vanquished of what they lived through, and further evidence that we are not given information on this topic in an honest way that allows us to make up our own minds.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Unrealized Potential 8 July 2014
By Arnold E. Bjorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I see that another reviewer has already said most of what I was going to, so I will be somewhat briefer than I originally planned.

In terms of promising opportunities, this book has few competitors in modern-history journalism. As a young student, Frank Brandenburg managed to become friends with many of the most iconic survivors of the Third Reich: SS General Karl Wolff, Major General Otto Remer, ace pilot Ulrich Rudel, Hitler's personal secretaries, etc. He did it, he claims, out of personal curiosity, having watched the TV series "Holocaust" and wanting to learn more of Germany's past from those who had actually lived it.

The old Nazis, probably glad to have someone -- Anyone -- who wanted to hear their stories without heaping abuse or moral condemnation on them, opened up to him and trusted him with their own private views on the history of the Third Reich. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, they all inclined strongly toward what is nowadays called "Holocaust denial" and considered most stories of German atrocities to be mere Allied propaganda.) If we are to believe him, he had an all but unparalleled degree of access to their circles. His book could thus have been the first (and last) ground-breaking study to let these people speak out in their own words -- Not necessarily to be believed in every particular, but to be heard and recorded for posterity.

Ultimately, however, it all fizzles. For rather than producing the "oral history" he thus had a nigh-unique opportunity to compile, Brandenburg went off on a conspiracy trail, obsessing over the idea that Martin Bormann remains alive and is heading a secret underground of neo-Nazis threatening German democracy. His story, as treated by prolific writer of Nazi-themed spy fiction, Ib Melchior, is presented in the breathless manner of an old comic book or modern TV series, with dramatic cliffhangers and ominous forebodings. From the sinisterly portrayed old Nazis, we hear very little of historical substance (and even less not already published in their assorted interviews, memoirs, etc.) -- Mostly they simply seem to provide background to the "X-Files"-like investigation of the grand conspiracy. Elementary factual errors also abound in the narration.

The reader is thus left with only tantalizing hints of what this book could have been, had young Brandenburg chosen a more historical emphasis. There are fascinating little portraits of such men as Karl Wolff or Hans Baur, as they appeared to him in the early 1980s, and once or twice they are allowed to say something of historical interest. But on the whole, actual history is ignored in favor of what seems a semi-fictional, in any case much exaggerated, present-day thriller. The tremendous potential of Brandenburg's connections is left unrealized, and his and Melchior's book contains relatively little that will be of interest to the researcher.
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