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Paperback The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel Book

ISBN: 0815410727

ISBN13: 9780815410720

The Memoirs of Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel

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Book Overview

These extraordinary memoirs-written by German Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel in the six weeks before he was hanged in Nuremberg for war crimes-offers readers an unparalleled, insider's view of the Wehrmacht, Hitler, and the events that made WWII the most devastating conflict of modern times.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

editor took too many liberties in editing out certain passages

overally could have been a good book, but this particular version of Keitel's memoirs has too many "they have been ommitted by the editor" including details about his younger son in the fighting at Warsaw and numerous other family details. Basically a butcher job by the editor. one or two would have been fine, but they are too numerous to count

Insights into German Nazi Military Decisions, Allied Bombing, Great Escape, etc.

Gorlitz tries to portray Keitel as a simple soldier who followed orders, and one who was executed at Nuremberg as a result of the forceful postwar impulse to punish Nazi criminality. Keitel's memoirs themselves give comparatively little insight into Nazi ideology. (This review is based on the 1966 English-language edition). Keitel does not describe the 1939 German-Soviet conquest of Poland as a cakewalk. He is mystified by the fact that the French did not attack western Germany even though it was so thinly protected. (p. 94). He mentions Westerplatte, and also comments on the combat in the surrounding area: "The officer casualties suffered by the Pomeranian nobility in this yeomanry division had been particularly heavy." (p. 96). Later, Gorlitz singled out Poland as a particularly notable example of guerilla warfare against German rule. (p. 253). When discussing the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Keitel mentioned the crucial two-month delay in starting it (p. 131). As for Stalingrad, he contends that Paulus' army could only have been saved by a timely retreat in 1942. He also suggests that the eastern front could have been stabilized by a general German withdrawal to a line stretching from Lake Peipus to the Carpathians. (p. 186). Much has been said in recent years about how Allied incendiary bombing was supposedly ineffective. Keitel, in a letter to his wife, did not share this view. He wrote to her: "That is why I want you to leave Berlin as soon as possible in view of the enormous danger there now is of fires breaking out; fires are far more dangerous than high explosive." (p. 187). As for labeling the Allied bombers "terror fliers", Gorlitz realized the fact that, were this to be done, then those Germans who launched V-1 rockets against London would also have to be called "terror fliers". (p. 262). Was Keitel complicit in the murder to 50 recaptured Allied officers in the wake of what has become known as the Great Escape? (pp. 259-261). Gorlitz contends that this charge against Keitel was unjustified, and that Keitel vainly tried to persuade Hitler to spare the captured officers who, after all, were POWs protected by the Geneva Convention. Supposedly, Keitel managed to save the lives of those recaptured POWs who were already back in Stalag Luft III.

Story of Chief of German High Command in his own words

Keitel's memoirs make an interesting read. .In his life, Field Marshal became butt of derisory comments. With some referring him as `Hitler's lackey'. What Keitel's detractors fail to understand that Hitler was former's boss that you cannot hope to disobey your boss. Keitel's sense of loyalty ,devotion to duty did not allow him to do that.Field Marshal was a competent administrator having excellent managerial abilities and made him indispensable to the Fuehrer. He served as a shock absorber managing to shield his subordinates against Hitler's wrath. During wartime OKW Supremo led an austere,frugal life eschewing all pomp and splendour. Irony of Keitel's life was he never aspired for an exalted post in Wehrmacht. Left to himself ,he would have returned to his 600-acre family estate at Helmscherode in the Duchy of Brunswick and led life of a farmer. It must be noted Keitel penned his memoirs under incarceration. Writing memoirs under stressful circumstances required strong nerves. Book is based on Keitel's role as chief of German High Command. Since he had no opportunity to go out and mine for information some inaccuracies and distortions have crept into the text. Editor has done a commendable job in correcting them in appendices section of the book. Further it appears Keitel was in hurry to finish the book, for he feared hangman's noose to fall upon his neck at any time. Coming to the text, few things need straightening out. Keitel considers Fuehrer a genius. Especially after Wehrmacht's stunning victory in the West on May-June 1940. Field Marshal says that idea of breaking through rugged Ardennes terrain thereby outflanking Maginot line was Hitler's brainwave. This is debatable because General Erich Von Manstein working independently conceived similiar notion. Keitel dubs invasion of Soviet Russia as a pre- emptive strike. I remain skeptical about this. This does not mean Stalin had no territorial ambitions. Soviet dictator was wily,shrewd and calculative; he bided his time. Had Wehrmacht been entangled in a prolonged struggle in the West , Red Army waiting on the wings after regaining strength would have assailed Germany from behind. Exploiting German pre occupation in the West, Red Army quickly occupied Baltic Repupblics, Bukovina, Bessarabia which lends credence to this view. Keitel alludes to enemy espionage network operating from Germany. We know today this was much-acclaimed `Red Orchestra' erected by the Intelligence Directorate of Red Army: GRU. Field marshal refers only to Shultz- Boysen ring.They were other cogs in the wheel [Trepper ring ,Lucy network in neutral Switzerland ] which escaped his notice. Keitel says treachery ruined Hitler's Operation Case Blue: plan to seize Stalingrad and rich oil-bearing region in Caucasus in the summer of 1942,an opinion which I endorse. Communist spies having excellent sources of information in German High Command uncovered full extent and scope of operation and informed their Soviet master

The view from Hitler's elbow

Of all Hitler's generals, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel is arguably the most villified. Nicknamed "Lackeitel" (Keitel the Lackey) and "The Nodding Jack*ss", the Chief of Nazi Germany's Armed Forces High Command has been dismissed by both his contemporaries and historical critics as a servile, desk-bound, paper-pushing non-entity, professionally incompetent and morally weak, whose bumbling and sycophancy noticibly hobbled the Reich's war effort. Albert Speer described him coldly as "one who blindly and without dignity echoes his master's opinion", and Hitler himself, while admitting Keitel was "loyal as a dog", treated him very much like a dog, once mocking him for not understanding the differences between a field piece and an anti-tank gun - "And he's a general of Artillery!" A description can be accurate without telling the whole story, in his memiors, penned while he was awaiting execution at Nuremberg, Keitel - who was fully aware of how he was percieved by both "friend" and foe alike - tried very hard to tell his side of the story. For that reason alone, aside from its obvious historical value, this book is worth reading. Keitel was selected by Hitler in 1938 to head up the Oberkommado der Wehrmacht, in theory a military bureau designed to take over the functions of the Minister of War (a post Hitler abolished to increase his control over the Armed Forces) and to serve as Hitler's military staff, but in actuality a body created soley to undercut the power of the OKH, the Army High Command. As its leader, Keitel therefore found himself known as "Hitler's man" in the Army and incurred the appropriate wrath of his former comrades. Unfortunately, Keitel also bore the brunt of Hitler's animosty towards the Army, so much so that he nicknamed himself "the Fuehrer's lightning rod." His principal role throughout the war was as an executive agent of Hitler's will, administrator of a huge staff apparatus, and the duties of a personal secretary and government minister. In those tasks he performed quite well, bringing the qualities of obedience, diligence, and hard work to a table that was overflowing with work from day one. Fully cognizant that his position was merely a tool of Hitler's power aspirations, he referred to the OKW as an "abortion of an office" and made it clear that he would have been much happier somewhere else - anywhere else, but that Hitler refused to either let him resign or take any of his advice. So perhaps Keitel was not so much a lackey himself as merely occupying the job description of one. Keitel's MEMIORS are various in objective. He wanted to tell the story of the years 1938 - 1945 from his own perspective, to defend his personal reputation against criticisms which were dogging him even at Nuremburg, and he wanted to answer the moral charges leveled against him at his trial. It is in the last two capacities that the book is most interesting; Keitel has some interesting criticisms of his own to throw around, most notably of H

Extraordinary Memoir, Valuable Historic Accounts

I believe few people would not read this book without more or less a kind of admiration for the author for his unique strong nerve, because without strong belief and strong nerve system, knowing any moment death would be at his door, he would not have put not only his personal history but also a whole nation's history into the account in such an accurate and crystal way within such short period-only six weeks.The power of this extraordinary book lies in that the author as an exclusive high rank of a Field Marshal of German armed forces, the Chief of Staff to the High Command of Armed Forces, who working inside the German headquarters, who having participated all the enginering of military plans, has provided rare and valuable historical materials and revealed the truth of the inside the Third Reich, contributing to the establishing the truth of history from the other side, although they are certainly not welcome by the current official establishment account of the history. I wish people read this book with a wide open mind. According to the Marshal, the invasion of Poland was to retake the territory that originally belonged to Germany; while the invation of the Soviet Union belonged to a preventive war (which has been confirmed by Soviet historians after more than forty years later). From the point of view of the Marshal, before invasion of Poland, Germany had tried hard to resolve the problem by negotiation, and they provided pretty fair offer to both Poland and France: Germany Government even publicly disavowed his interest in Alsce-Lorraine which, I believe few people know that before Louis XVI was part of Prussia. The Marshal has revealed some truth of the history which I believe have never been known to the public for some political reason. For instance, the Marshal has given justification about the famous commissar order and commando order in the east front, he pointed out that because the Soviet arbitrary refusal either to recognize the Hague Rules on Land Warfare or to consider themselves bound by the Geneva conventions on the treatment of prisoners of war, and due to the illegal partisan warfare occurred in the east front which was openly encouraged by Britain and the Soviet Union, so that the war with Soviets was a war fighting for survival, and Hitler demanded that German should dispense with all their outdated and traditional ideas about chivalry and the generally accepted rules of warfare, and smash terror with counter-terror. Another fact the Marshal revealed is the chivalry act German shown in their offering Greek honorable settlement in recognition of their brave struggle and of their blamelessness for the war: Hitler ordered the release and repatriation of all their prisoners of war immediately they had been disarmed; the poor countryside was to be preserved and the country's production was not to be touched except where it might be used to aid the British. And Hitler wanted the troops' victorious entry into Athens without a spec
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