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Wolfram Hardcover – 17 Feb 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; hardcover edition (17 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340837888
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340837887
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 24.1 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'a remarkable narrative of [Wolfram] Aichele's life during the Nazi regime, written by his son-in-law Giles Milton.' (Irish Times)

Engrossing . . . Milton's book celebrates the heroism of individuals who put lives before ideologies (Independent)

'as a portrait of how these civilised individuals were able to survive, this is invaluable.' (Daily Express)

'Besides being moving and readable, Milton's social history provides a sympathetic counterbalance to the idea that all wartime Germans were "Hitler's willing executioners".' (Mail on Sunday)

'a delight to read.' (www.thebookbag.co.uk)

'Milton's book is no apology for the Third Reich - rather it is the very human, horrifying story of an ordinary German boy and his family of free-thinking artists, none of whom supported Hitler's politics and all of whom suffered great hardships.' (Saga)

'Giles Milton looks deeper into family history with Wolfram, the story of his father-in-law's childhood under the Third Reich.' (Hobart Mercury)

'Milton's writing, too, is first-rate. Engaging, poignant and vivid, he wrings just the right amount of pathos from his story, and shifts seamlessly between the varying "voices" of his narrative. . . . a very valid and interesting book' (BBC History Magazine)

'idiosyncratic and utterly fascinating' (Mail on Sunday)

'. . . the story of the Aichele family reveals an undercurrent of passive resistance that existed among ordinary Germans. . . . In considering what Germans went through during the war, Milton's book shows that our understanding should not be so clear cut. . . . Milton's close analysis of the experiences of Germans demonstrates that they too could be victims of the war.' (Spectator)

'a truly remarkable story . . . a tour de force.' (Miranda Seymour)

'a compelling account of 20th-century darkness.' (Sun Herald)

'Giles Milton is one of our most engaging writers of non-fiction. In Wolfram, he writes with deceptive simplicity, matching his effortless style with a fascinating subject to create a page-turning and thought-provoking book.' (Victoria Hislop)

'Instead he [Milton] renders a service to his father-in-law's generation by reminding readers about the sheer physical, mental and spiritual effect it took to stay true to oneself in a vicious regime.' (Saturday Times)

'A powerful study . . . Based on Wolfram's recollections, with Milton providing the scene painting and historical background, this is a valuable record of what it was like to be sucked into war, and a vivid vocation of the fear and bewilderment of living in the Third Reich.' (Guardian)

Book Description

A powerful story of a young man conscripted into Hitler's army and a family left behind, a sympathetic view of life from the other side.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Basement Cat VINE VOICE on 17 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book, and found it as compelling read a read as fiction. I often lose interest in non-fiction after a while, but this was a fascinating story. There is so much information available about the British and the allies in the second world war, that it makes a change to read about it from the German perspective. Having said that, Wolfram's family certainly was not a typical German family, and they resisted the rise of Hitler as much as they could, unlike other people from their town who embraced the ideology wholeheartedly. Wolfram's experience of war was a harrowing one that he was very lucky to survive, as the Nazi war machine began to come off the rails in the latter part of WW2.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wikipedia confirms Wolfram Aichele as a Bavarian "internationally acclaimed artist" with reference to many exhibitions and paintings in collections throughout the world. Wikipedia also confirms Englishman Giles Milton as a best-selling author "who specializes in the history of exploration" with books published in numerous languages world-wide. He married a daughter of Wolfram Aichele and for some time was unaware of his father-in-law's extraordinary wartime experiences. After family meetings and some 60 hours of recorded interviews, plus information from letters, diaries etc., from communications with neighbours and contemporaries, and other research Giles Milton wrote `Wolfram' as a true story of the build up of the Third Reich and execution of the Second World War from a German perspective.

It must be acknowledged that details of how Hitler came to power and how the Nazi regime infiltrated society and ruled the German population are presented in factual manner, and the devastating destruction of Wolfram's home town, Pforzheim, in an RAF incendiary bombing raid is authentically recalled. However the main thrust of the book `Wolfram' is the telling of Wolfram's experiences of boyhood, Hitler Youth, conscription to the military, service in the Crimea and in Normandy, prisoner of war, and return home, together with commentaries on artistic influences and personal ambitions. This true story is like fiction and it provides an emotional and compelling read at a pitch that far exceeds many novels. Yet `Wolfram' cannot avoid being a statement on the plight of `ordinary' Germans under the Nazis, and from this angle it is prudent to query influences from the close relationship between German subject and son-in-law author.
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It must have been a sweet day indeed when Giles Milton, the author of several excellent and painstakingly researched narrative histories, realised he had a book to write from within his own family. The titular Wolfram is his father in law, who served in the Second World War as a part of the Nazi war machine.
This is the story of the most enormous event of the last century whittled down to the viewpoint of several families living in and around a town called Pforzheim. The idyllic, if financially stretched, 1920's rather rapidly give way to the rise and eventual empowerment of Hitler; and indeed, the changes that insidiously creep into every day life as a result form an early highlight of this book. Pforzheim was a small town, certainly no great industrial centre, and it is fascinating to read how, even here, no single citizen would remain untouched by the regime.
Surprisingly, Wolfram's war was actually not as dramatic as the book's title and cover would suggest, for he would see little action himself for a variety of reasons. The real tragedy of this particular tale is the civilian horror of the Allied bombing; although clearly not as famous as Dresden, Pforzheim would be similarly turned to rubble, and Milton describes the event with the same heartbreaking clarity that made his book on Smyrna so affecting.
Nevertheless, 'Wolfram' is not without its issues. Whilst singling out individuals for whom the Nazi Party held little attraction, it nevertheless skirts around the uncomfortable opposite....that for an enormous number of people, the regime held a tremendous attraction, even in the face of pogroms, book-burnings and Fuhrer worship. Perhaps this is a psychological history worthy of its own book, but its omission here seems disingenuous.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is about a young man who grew up in Germany at the time when the Nazi party came to power and who went to war as a soldier while still in his teens. I was reminded of the brilliant book by Roger Moorhouse about wartime Berlin, in which he stated that there had been many books about how the minority died, but very few about how the majority lived. Wolfram was a boy who was obsessed by art (and who later became an artist). He lived in a village, near a small town, with his family and was isolated from the worst of the atrocities taking place in the cities of 1930's Berlin. However, saying that, you are very aware that Wolfram is the author's father in law. To say that the author takes pains to point out that Wolfram, his family and friends, were not aware of the extent of Jewish persecution and what it led to, doesn't really ring true. When the local doctor and his wife kill themselves because they are to be 'resettled', when the entire town is full of broken glass after the infamous Kristallnacht, when the synagogue is burnt, when Wolfram himself sees Jewish slave labourers from the train he is travelling on, etc etc, you have to feel that although there was perhaps little these people could do, in fact they did turn their faces from the truth. The boys who went to war were young and, often not Nazi sympathisers, but it is hard to feel sympathy for their plight when you are aware (with hindsight admittedly) that their Jewish neighbours have suffered far worse under the Nazi regime. I think the author being so closely related to the subject of the book causes a bias and lack of objectivity which somehow makes you feel less, rather than more, empathy with him. Wolfram himself certainly has a story to tell and it is an important one, but it may have been better if someone else had told it.
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