Cover

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Title page, Editorial series, Copyright

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Contents

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List of Maps

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p. vi

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Foreword

Carlo D’Este

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pp. vii-viii

Many of the German generals of World War II were superb battlefield commanders who not only understood mobile warfare, but also were masterful strategists and tacticians. Erwin Rommel, Erich von Manstein, Albert Kesselring, Hans Guderian, and Hasso von Manteuffel are among the well-known...

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Preface

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pp. ix-xx

General of Panzer Troops Hermann Balck was the nineteenth of only twentyseven soldiers awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, Germany’s highest decoration of World War II. He was wounded a total of seven times in both world wars. U.S. Army general...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Fate propelled me into the world during an era of historical development in Germany that other peoples had long since passed through. Peoples pass through many levels in their development. The Germans, the English, the French did not exist in the beginning. Single tribes and personalities often united based...

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1. 1914

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pp. 9-32

Much has been written about the reasons war broke out in 1914, and most of that based on the politics of the day. Much of what has been written is not very deep. The German-English differences were fundamental. In a letter to my father, the German crown prince wrote: “I am concerned with the ever...

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2. 1915

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pp. 33-48

On 1 February the troop train left Goslar. We were stuck on it for days. In Leszno, where we sat for twenty-five hours, I had the waiting hall of the train station cleared and the floor covered with straw to give the troops a chance to stretch out. In Rzepin I bought meat with coupons. We already had been...

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3. 1916

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pp. 49-54

Things became deadly quiet. Wire obstacles and improved positions had put an end to the search and destroy [Jagdkommando] raids on both sides. Our priorities now became the further improving of our positions and logistics. We collected mushrooms, planted vegetables, and raised chickens to provide...

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4. 1917

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pp. 55-78

On 12 April I returned from my leave. I had planned to transfer in Rudka for Budapest, but the connecting train was not running. The station master told me that there was a very nice train waiting on the other track which was going not to Budapest but to Košice.1 From there it would be easy to get to Budapest

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5. 1918

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pp. 79-102

After my Christmas leave I rejoined my battalion near Bruderdorf, the area of the Battle of Lorraine in 1914. Every step of the way I passed French and German grave sites. The number of dead on the French side surpassed the Germans by a ratio of at least three- or four-to-one. In 1914 the French infantry...

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6. Retrospective on World War I

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pp. 103-114

Before I continue with my memoirs, I would like to take a look back on World War I. For years I have been occupying myself with the analysis of its problems. I have read almost all of the literature foreign and domestic. The thinking of today is considerably different from our thoughts, our feelings...

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7. 1919

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pp. 115-130

Goslar suffered the same fate of all the German garrison towns: a ban on shooting, the appearance of sailors, the expelling of officers, the opening of the prisons, the looting of uniform and rations warehouses, and the election of a soldiers’ council. Some of the old NCOs prevented the worst excesses...

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8. 1920

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pp. 131-136

In the middle of the night our troop train stopped outside a station at Buldern, on the edge of the Ruhr district. Somebody from the unit was supposed to get on the phone. Hientsch and I started walking between two tracks toward the station. There was a train coming toward us from the opposite direction. Just by chance...

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9. 1921

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pp. 137-150

The remnants of the 57th and 59th Infantry Regiments and the 8th Jäger Battalion had already been attached to the 10th Jäger Battalion. On 1 January 1921 we were reorganized as the 3rd Jäger Battalion, 17th Jäger Regiment, of the new Reichsheer. Originally formed as the Royal Prussian Hannoverian...

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10. In the Third Reich

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pp. 151-166

The Weimar Republic ended in perpetual crisis. In the end the choice was between Communism and National Socialism. All other parties had ruined themselves and had no more support among the people. The last attempt by Kurt von Schleicher1 to split National Socialism and thus build...

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11. World War II

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pp. 167-198

Hitler’s tense voice on the radio was deeply excited as he announced to the German people the start of the war and the fact that Italy had remained on the sidelines. Events clearly had overtaken him. The reason for this could have been the fact that he had approached Austria, Czechoslovakia...

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12. Greece

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pp. 199-216

When I walked into my office on 12 December 1940 my reassignment orders to take command of the 3rd Panzer Regiment lay on the desk. I was not at all happy to leave my great 1st Rifle Regiment, to which I had grown so attached over the last few years. Nor was it easy to leave my adjutant...

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13. Russia

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pp. 217-240

had just been appointed the commander of the 2nd Panzer Brigade when I was called to Berlin to report to General von Schell, to the Organizational Directorate headed by Lieutenant General Walther Buhle, and to Colonel General Friedrich Fromm, who was the de facto minister of war...

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14. 1942

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pp. 241-276

The build-up of a powerful mechanized army for 1942 was more than difficult. Endless amounts of materiel and countless tanks, trucks, and weapons had been left behind during the withdrawal from Moscow. I estimated the loss equal to at least one or two armies worth of equipment. This indicates what would...

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15. 1943

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pp. 277-296

Nothing changed much between 1 and 23 January 1943. Our first reinforcements arrived. The Russians had been hit really hard and in some ways the situation had stabilized. But according to my journal there were only three days during that period we did not fight and, of course...

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16. The Gross-Deutschland Division

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pp. 297-374

I was just about to depart for Slovakia when I was called off the train. I was assigned to command one more time, this time in the coming battle for Kursk as acting commander of the Gross-Deutschland Division. On 4 April I found myself back in southern Russia, in Poltava. The attack...

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17. Commander in Chief, Army Group G

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pp. 375-410

I had been home just four days when I received a call from the Führer Headquarters, “Report immediately! Then proceed to the West.” Hitler appointed me as Oberbefehlshaber1 of Army Group G and explained the following:
“Owing to logistical difficulties the Allies will come...

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18. North of the Danube

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pp. 411-442

While we were attacking south of the Danube from west to east, the Russian Sixth Guards Tank Army on 6 January broke through north of the Danube and penetrated deeply into the LVII Panzer Corps from east to west. We only managed to stop their penetration at Komorn1 by committing...

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19. Looking Back

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pp. 443-454

The aggressor in any war is always the side that loses. Personally, I am not certain that it really was not English politics that forced Hitler into the war. Some respected voices in America have expressed this opinion, and documents recently made public in England support this...

Appendix 1

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pp. 455-460

Appendix 2

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pp. 461-464

Appendix 3

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pp. 465-466

Appendix 4

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pp. 467-468

Appendix 5

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pp. 469-470

Appendix 6

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pp. 471-472

Appendix 7

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pp. 473-474

Notes

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pp. 475-514

Index

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pp. 515-542

Illustrations

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