The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge

ISBN: 978-1-137-27854-8
Review Date:

Werner Otto Müller-Hill turned 59 years of age on 27 Mar 1944, and decided to, against all common sense, start a diary in order to record his thoughts, many of which revolved around his country, Germany, that was starting to show signs of collapse. A military judge, he knew very well the danger should the diary be discovered, and we are lucky that he chose to bear such risks so that we have his first hand account today. Published as The True German (translated into English by Jefferson Chase), the content of his diary entries ranged from the casual...

Four days of delightful relaxation at home with nice little trips. H. may have taken everything from us, but he had to leave the mountains and the landscape alone, and from them we can imbibe renewed strength and some consolation. [Entry of 11 Apr 1944]

... to the serious...

Today one of our secretaries returned. She tried to get to Breslau [Wroclaw] and only got as far as Liegnitz. She reported - as I had already imagined - terrible scenes of refugee misery: children and old people dying of exposure during long marches, their corpses simply left lying on teh sides of roads. Infants in diapers who literally froze to death in unheated train cars and whose corposes were put in the luggage nets or thrown out the window. [Entry of 7 Feb 1945]

... and to something on the humorous and sarcastic side...

Since this morning, we are using the Hitler greeting. That will ensure we win the war. [Entry of 24 Jul 1944]

Regardless of the tone of each entry, his words put me inside the head of a member of the German intelligentsia who was caught between his duty as a German and his revulsion for the Nazi state. Read as a book, some of his notions might seem highly repetitive. However, after stepping back to recall that it was compiled a few paragraphs at a time over the span of over a year, I could feel his increasing frustration toward the decisions made by top level leaders, the likes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, which were more and more laughable as the American, British, and Soviet front lines moved closer to the heart of Germany. Memoirs could not be treated as history, let alone a diary, but The True German would certain serve as a great supplement to other works on the history of the final months of Nazi Germany.

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