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Military Book Reviews

Book Review: The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge
by Werner Otto Mueller-Hill

From the publisher:
Werner Otto M쥲-Hill served as a military judge in the Werhmacht during World War II. From March 1944 to the summer of 1945, he kept a diary, recording his impressions of what transpired around him as Germany hurtled into destruction衴 he thought about the fate of the Jewish people, the danger from the Bolshevik East once an Allied victory was imminent, his longing for his home and family and, throughout it, a relentless disdain and hatred for the man who dragged his beloved Germany into this cataclysm, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. M쥲-Hill calls himself a German nationalist, the true Prussian idealist who was there before Hitler and would be there after. Published in Germany and France, M쥲-Hill's diary has been hailed as a unique document, praised for its singular candor and uncommon insight into what the German army was like on the inside. It is an extraordinary testament to a part of Germany's people that historians are only now starting to acknowledge and fills a gap in our knowledge of WWII.

"True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge" is Werner Otto M쥲-Hill's secret diary that he kept from March 1944 to the summer of 1945. The diary was originally published in Germany and France and just recently has been published by Palgrave Macmillan (September 24, 2013).

The diary offers the reader a unique insight into the inner-workings of the German army, the regime's bureaucracy, and the Nazi propaganda machine during the late stages of WWII. By the beginning of the diary (March 1944), M쥲-Hill has realized that he and the German people have been duped by their leaders and the Nazi regime. M쥲-Hill is a highly-intelligent, critical-thinking Wehrmacht Military Judge who has found himself living in the middle of a colossal lie perpetrated by the Nazi regime. To M쥲-Hill, the absurdity of the war and the hypocrisies of the regime become too much for him to bear. But his frustrations arise from the fact that he can't share his thoughts with anyone else except very few select individuals...and even then, he must watch his opinions closely for fear of reprisal. This is where his diary comes in. In his diary, he is able to share his inner-thoughts and his frustrations without fear of persecution. Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, in his writings, he wants to take Germany by the shoulders and shake her while screaming "Wake Up!" before it's too late.

Unfortunately for Germans, it's much too late to undo what they have unleashed upon Europe. The diary greatly details how most Germans remain self-delusional about their chances of winning the war and their fate overall. They cling to the hope for upcoming "wonder weapons" promised by the Nazi's and their allusions towards "something big" coming right around the corner. M쥲-Hill is able to see through the deception, and being the objective person he is, cannot understand why the rest of the country cannot see it also.

The diary is a reminder of the unbelievable power of propaganda and how even a highly-intelligent and cultural people can lose their critical thinking en masse. Upon reading it, it becomes clear just how rooted and far-reaching Nazi doctrine had become - and how it was able to deceive a people up until the very end. The "True German" gives the reader remarkable insight into the all-consuming power of the Nazi propaganda machine, and the accompanying self-delusion that comes with it. It serves to help the reader understand why such a thing happened and how it could very possibly happen again. A small note with the book -- I found the Introduction to contain too many 'spoilers' (for lack of a better word) for my personal taste. I just personally felt it would've been better to save any analysis for reading afterwards. I highly recommend the book.
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