In this fast-paced memoir, a seasoned German-American author tells why he volunteered, as a teenager, during the final months of the war for service in the famed “Leibstandarte” division of the elite Waffen SS. He describes his role in the furious winter combat of the “Battle of the Bulge,” in bloody fighting in Hungary, and during the final, desperate battles in Austria.
Schmidt provides a frank, unapologetic explanation — with a keen regard for American sensibilities — of the appeal of the Third Reich regime, and the realities of the Hitler Youth and the Waffen SS.
With dust jacket, more than 24 photos, several maps, and index.
This unforgettable, heart-felt alternative view of Third Reich Germany and World War II helps the reader to understand why, in spite of overwhelming enemy force and nearly hopeless odds, Germans fought to the bitter end.
Schmidt also boldly tackles such sensitive subjects as the “Malmedy massacre” and the destruction of the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane by SS troops in an anti-partisan reprisal.
After finally surrendering to US troops on May 6, 1945, Schmidt was held — along with hundreds of thousands of other German prisoners of war — under brutal conditions in primitive stockades without shelter. Thanks to the kindness of individual GIs, he was spared transfer to Soviet imprisonment, or prolonged custody in US internment. He then migrated to the United States, where he built a successful life and became a US citizen.