22 October 2020

I Somehow Survived - Eyewitness Accounts from WWII

I Somehow Survived is apparently going to be the first of a series of books by Klaus G. Förg, a German author who has been collecting oral histories of men and women who lived through the war and who now reside in Bavaria. This is notable as there are a very limited number of books which cover oral histories of German veterans in English, as most books are memoirs of German veterans dedicated to one individual and their experiences alone. 

I Somehow Survived contains the stories of four men and one women who experienced the war in various ways. The majority of the book recounts the story of Georg Weiss who provides a detailed account of his experiences on the Eastern Front, including anti-partisan operations and the chaotic retreat in 1944. Sepp Heinrichsberger's story includes a shockingly honest admission to participating in the Vercors massacre in France in 1944. There are two other stories which recount experiences in Italy - one with the Herman Goring Division. And lastly, there is the story of Morlid Nirschl, a Norwegian lady who married a member of the German Kriegsmarine while her mother was in a Norwegian concentration camp for political activity and her father was in hiding from the Gestapo. "I have no objection to your marrying him,” her father told her, “I just want them to give us our country back."

Some of these stories are relatively short, and the narratives in some cases are unpolished, lack comprehensive detail and may be inaccurate in specifics, however that is inevitable as the interviewees are all now well into their 90s. These imperfections reflect the oral history nature of the content which by its very nature reflects the personal experiences of individuals. Everyone's experiences differ - and that is why a book like this is important - to provide another perspective. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to find out more about the German experience of the war, and I look forward to the rest of the series. 

Thanks to Pen & Sword for the review copy. 

Available from:
Pen & Sword

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