Review: D-Day Through German Eyes

D DAY Through German Eyes - The Hidden Story of June 6th 1944

D DAY Through German Eyes – The Hidden Story of June 6th 1944 by Holger Eckhertz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eckhertz and his father had interviewed five different men, officers and enlisted, who had been posted to the five landing zones. The Allied designations from west to east – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword – are the ones that have made it into history. As Eckhertz pointed out in his introduction, the Germans had different names for the beaches, but because the weight of history and historiography is on the Allies, even the German historians of a later date probably used them just to avoid confusion.

This book is a series of interviews and it reads rather quickly. You can feel the tension and the confusion that the Germans felt once the first bombs landed and the naval artillery shells. Like the Allies who had different experiences on the five beach from a relatively easy one at Utah to “Bloody Omaha” to the British and the Canadians, the Germans on the five zones had their own experiences. Some were captured and ended the war in a POW camp in England while the others fought until the bitter end.

I mentioned the weight of history has been in favor of the Allies and very rarely do we see the German perspective. Eckhertz himself mentioned how rare because many survivors are long dead and those who remain do not want to talk about a painful chapter of their lives. I “lost” a maternal granduncle before I was long born in 1937, presumably fighting in the Sino-Japanese war. My grandfather never talks about his brother at all, even 60 plus years later. As for his own experiences fighting for the Nationalist Chinese, he says even less. We do know he served as a English translator with a US Marine Corps doctor attached to the Nationalist headquarters. And because translators are always in high demand for espionage, we’re also not sure what my grandfather might have done. All this is to say that not all veterans write books or even wish to sit down for an interview even 20, 30, 40 years later.

Eckhertz was lucky in a sense that his father got a few men willing to share in the 1950s and the junior Eckhertz was able to publish something based on his father’s work. Remember that in the 1950s, the war had been over for about 10 years, it is during the Cold War, and everyone in the West was moving forward to deal with the Soviet threat and communism. I would guess everyone just wanted to move on.

To read this book in 2016 and 2019 is worth it because we have passed the 70 plus anniversaries of those events. Very few veterans are still alive and this book allows me to learn about the German soldiers and what they went through on that fateful day.

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