According to the website of the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, a new book entitled Soldaten (Soldiers) has been published by S. Fischer Verlag and the book “has the potential to change our view of the war.” You can read the newspaper article here.
During Word War II, the Allies secretly listened in on conversations between German POWs in their cells and recorded them. According to Der Speigel, the recordings of these conversations destroy once and for all the myth of a “clean” Wehrmacht.
The book is subtitled Transcripts of Fighting, Killing and Dying. According to the German newspaper, the book includes the transcripts of the secret recordings in which the POWs discussed their views of the enemy and their own leaders, as well as the details of combat missions, and gave detailed accounts of the atrocities they both witnessed and committed.
This quote is from the article on Der Spiegel’s website:
It is March 6, 1943, and two German soldiers are talking about the war. Fighter pilot Budde and Corporal Bartels were captured by the British a few weeks earlier. The war is over for them, and it’s time to share memories.
Budde: “I flew two spoiling attacks. In other words, we shelled buildings.”
Bartels: “But not destructive attacks with a specific target, like what we did?”
Budde: “No, just spoiling attacks. We encountered some of the nicest targets, like mansions on a mountain. When you flew at them from below and fired into them, you could see the windows rattling and then the roof going up in the air. There was the time we hit Ashford. There was an event on the market square, crowds of people, speeches being given. We really sprayed them! That was fun!”
Two other pilots, Bäumer and Greim, also had their share of amusing experiences, which they described in a conversation with other soldiers.
Bäumer: “We had a 2-centimeter gun installed on the front (of the aircraft). Then we flew down low over the streets, and when we saw cars coming from the other direction, we put on our headlights so that they would think another car was approaching them. Then we shot them with the gun. We had a lot of successes that way. It was great, and it was a lot of fun. We attacked trains and other stuff the same way.”
Greim: “We once flew a low-altitude attack near Eastbourne . When we got there we saw a big castle where there was apparently a ball or something like that being held. In any case, there were lots of women in nice clothes and a band. We flew past the first time, but then we attacked and really stuck it to them. Now that, my dear friend, was a lot of fun.”
To me, this recorded conversation between two German pilots is an example of German humor. I think that these pilots had figured out that their cells were bugged, and they decided to tell some tall tales as a joke.
I grew up in a German-American family in a German-American community where this kind of joking around was done all the time. As a small child, I didn’t understand that people were joking when they said things that they didn’t really mean.
I think that these pilots were just playing with the British; it was the British that bombed German mansions just for the fun of it. I learned about the British bombing of German manor houses and old mansions when I visited the Rhineland in Germany in 1995.