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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic reading, a must for all enthusiasts!
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.
Published on 19 April 2002 by Chris Gordon

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An uphill struggle for survival
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...
Published on 10 Oct. 2002 by Giles Hamilton


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An uphill struggle for survival, 10 Oct. 2002
By 
Giles Hamilton (Tonbridge, Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic reading, a must for all enthusiasts!, 19 April 2002
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Close to home, 11 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good - but lacks the tension of Das Boot, 12 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (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 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a thriller, 12 Dec. 2000
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Spurious claims, 29 Aug. 2012
By 
Ubootfahrer (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (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. Ten 9-inch containers would obviously not have accommodated 560 kgs of uranium oxide, nor was it ever in any of the vertical bow containers; it was in fact stored in containers located in horizontal compartments on either side of the U-boat.

As for the claim that an Me 262 was aboard, this is also completely false. I have obtained a number of authentic documents relating to U-234, and where aircraft types are mentioned at all, the documents are perfectly clear in stating that only aircraft drawings - I repeat, drawings - were being carried to Japan, plus tooling for a few components known to be difficult to manufacture. Nowhere in the archives of the UK, US or Germany is there a shred of evidence to support the authors' claims that 'an Me 262 jet fighter in its component parts [was] stowed in the hold amidships'.

Finally, what of that 'secret diary' that Hirschfeld is supposed to have maintained? In his introduction, Brooks writes, 'I have based this book on Hirschfeld's private war diaries...' However, in Chapters 9 and 10, we find that when Hirschfeld was taken prisoner by the Americans in May 1945, most of his personal possessions, including the diaries, were stolen! 'My diaries, U-Boat leathers and fur outfit were gone,' we are told.

It is clear, therefore, that contrary to Brooks' and Hirschfeld's claims, such diaries - if they ever existed at all - could not have formed the basis of this book. Thus, in view of the misinformation and false allegations presented with regard to the uranium oxide and the Me 262, doubt is naturally cast over the accuracy of the rest of the work considering that it is largely based on this non-existent diary. Anyone buying this book is therefore warned to treat what they read with extreme caution and should disregard entirely anything about the Me 262. This is just a myth initiated and repeated by sensational publications such as this so often that it is erroneously accepted as fact. For the reasons given, readers of this book, and any researcher tempted to quote from it, would indeed be naive if, like the other reviewers, they regard it as a reliable source of information.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exciting insight of a U-boat crewmans life during WWII, 12 Dec. 2000
By 
Mr. R. W. Wenden (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
Translated from the German by Geoffrey Brooks, the book chronicles the life of Wolfgang Hirschfeld from his conscription into the Kriegsmarine until his imprisonment in the USA and is convincingly written in the first person. The technical knowledge and detail enhance a human story expressing the German viewpoint of the war at sea coupled in the early days with the optimistic outlook of young men at war. Hirschfelds position as a radio operator embellishes the story with information not available to the majority of the crew and adds an extra dimension.
I found the book very enjoyable and probably the best of this genre that I have read. If you are not interested in Naval history however, there may not be enough here to keep you interested.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hirschfeld, 14 Dec. 2002
This book is an extraordinarily rare insight into the U-Boat conflict from the point of view of an NCO; Hirschfeld was privy to more news than most, due to his position as a wireless operator.
The book proceeds with his entry into the German Navy, his assignments on surface shipping, before his eventual transfer to the U-boat Service.
The book notes some of the experiences under the ace Bleichrodt and some of the early missions to America; another extremely interesting section of the book is the mission to Japan on board U-234.
A brilliant book, well worth the money.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 29 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
Thank you for book arrived today many thanks
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but too short, 17 Feb. 2003
By 
Matt Phelps (Camberley, SURREY United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) (Paperback)
An excellent book that I read cover to cover over a few days The early part of the book is fairly detailed and contains lots of amusing snippets from Hirschfeld's experience of U-Boat life but I was dissappointed by how brief the book was in some areas - especially the actual sinking of convoys which is very sparsely described. The book could easily have been twice as long.
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Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks)
Hirschfeld:The Secret Diary Of A U-Boat (Cassell Military Paperbacks) by Wolfgang Hirschfeld (Paperback - 6 July 2000)
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