Hitler's Generals in America
Nazi POWs and Allied Military Intelligence
Publication Year: 2013
Americans are familiar with prisoner of war narratives that detail Allied soldiers' treatment at the hands of Germans in World War II: popular books and movies like The Great Escape and Stalag 17 have offered graphic and award-winning depictions of the American POW experience in Nazi camps. Less is known, however, about the Germans captured and held in captivity on U.S. soil during the war.
In Hitler's Generals in America, Derek R. Mallett examines the evolution of the relationship between American officials and the Wehrmacht general officers they held as prisoners of war in the United States between 1943 and 1946. During the early years of the war, British officers spied on the German officers in their custody, housing them in elegant estates separate from enlisted soldiers, providing them with servants and cooks, and sometimes becoming their confidants in order to obtain intelligence. The Americans, on the other hand, lacked the class awareness shared by British and German officers. They ignored their German general officer prisoners, refusing them any special treatment.
By the end of the war, however, the United States had begun to envision itself as a world power rather than one of several allies providing aid during wartime. Mallett demonstrates how a growing admiration for the German officers' prowess and military traditions, coupled with postwar anxiety about Soviet intentions, drove Washington to collaborate with many Wehrmacht general officers. Drawing on newly available sources, this intriguing book vividly demonstrates how Americans undertook the complex process of reconceptualizing Germans -- even Nazi generals -- as allies against what they perceived as their new enemy, the Soviet Union.
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
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Discussions of World War II German generals often bring to mind names like Erwin Rommel or Heinz Guderian. Undoubtedly, these men and officers like them played significant roles in the conduct of the war. Scholars have paid less attention to the fates of hundreds of senior German officers taken prisoner by the Allies, with the exception of Wehrmacht officers in Soviet...
1. Afrikaner and Französen
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The first large group of German generals to arrive in Allied hands came from the massive German surrender in Tunisia in May 1943. In September 1940 Italian dictator Benito Mussolini initiated a campaign against the British in North Africa. He met with only limited success before British forces drove the Italians out of Egypt and into western Libya by early 1941. In an effort to...
2. Hitler's Generals Come to America
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While the British hosted their Afrikaner generals at stately Trent Park, American authorities originally embarked on a similar process with the four generals sent to the United States in June 1943. Using what they had learned from the combined Anglo-American intelligence efforts in North Africa, U.S. officials initially attempted to emulate British practices. They placed the...
3. The Seeds of the American Transformation
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Following the successful Allied invasion of northwest France in June 1944, Washington finally initiated a relationship with its senior German officer prisoners. Driven by a burgeoning sense of imminent victory, American policy makers began thinking ahead to the postwar reconstruction of Europe and what role, if any, the men in their custody might play in that process...
4. Reeducating Hitler's Generals?
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With the prospect of Germany’s defeat on the horizon, Washington finally decided to put its captive enemy generals to use. Generals Gustav von Vaerst, Ludwig Bieringer, Botho Elster, Theodore Graf von Sponeck, and Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein departed Camp Clinton on March 28, 1945. American personnel drove the prisoners almost 150 miles from the generals’ compound...
5. Cold War Allies
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On April 15, 1945, a German U-Boat embarked from Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway. U-234 carried Lieutenant General Ulrich Kessler, the German air attaché and head of the German Air Force liaison staff to Tokyo. Kessler led a “mission of specialists for the purpose of acquainting the Japanese with the latest developments in German radio, radar, V and other...
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Following the end of the war, British and American authorities agreed to hold their highest-ranking Wehrmacht prisoners until some semblance of order could be restored to Germany. Although the U.S. War Department returned all of its German prisoners of war, including all of the general officers, to Europe by the end of June 1946, the prisoners were not allowed to return...
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This book has played a role in my life for the past nine years. During this time, I have accrued considerable debt to many individuals who aided me in the process of researching and writing this manuscript. While insufficient, this acknowledgment of their contributions is an expression of my sincere gratitude...
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Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013