As early as 1941, Allied victory in World War II seemed all but assured. How and why, then, did the Germans prolong the barbaric conflict for three and a half more years?
In The German War, acclaimed historian Nicholas Stargardt draws on an extraordinary range of primary source materials—personal diaries, court records, and military correspondence—to answer this question. He offers an unprecedented portrait of wartime Germany, bringing the hopes and expectations of the German people—from infantrymen and tank commanders on the Eastern front to civilians on the home front—to vivid life. While most historians identify the German defeat at Stalingrad as the moment when the average German citizen turned against the war effort, Stargardt demonstrates that the Wehrmacht in fact retained the staunch support of the patriotic German populace until the bitter end.
Astonishing in its breadth and humanity, The German War is a groundbreaking new interpretation of what drove the Germans to fight—and keep fighting—for a lost cause.
Anton Staller was a U-boat lookout, rising no higher than Leading Seaman and his account of the war from the lower ranks is unique. He served on the Type IXc/40 boat, U-188 under Kapitänleutnant Lüdden on three patrols witnessing the stark reality of convoy warfare from his lookout position on the conning tower of his submarine. His U-boat sank the British destroyer HMS Beverley and eight merchant ships exceeding 100,000 gross tons but the submarine also spent many hours submerged under depth-charge attacks.
More so than many of his contemporaries, Staller was prepared to reveal his thoughts and feelings of his experiences of the war at sea, and of his time on the conning tower, at the hydrophons, and cleaning weapons as a messboy.
His journal demonstrates how political thinking rarely entered the minds of the
U-boat men, even though many of them, such as Lüdden, did not choose to serve in submarines. Staller was not a Nazi and came from a Socialist Party background, yet he never questioned the cause he was fighting for. To Staller it was simply ‘Us or Them to the death’.