Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe officers ‘were no better than the SS’Transcripts detail ‘pure enjoyment’ of massacring citizensChilling confessions of PoWs captured by the British have laid bare the brutality and excesses of ‘ordinary’ German soldiers in the Second World War.A book of transcripts to be published in Germany next week reveals how the honour of its old army was lost amid the frenzy to be ‘perfect, pitiless Nazis’. In the interrogation transcripts, the German soldiers speak of the ‘fun’ and ‘pure enjoyment’ of massacring innocent civilians and enemy troops.
Historians Soenke Neitzel and Harald Welzer have used the interrogations of 13,000 German military prisoners as the basis of Soldiers: Diaries Of Fighting, Killing and Dying – or Soldaten in German. The exchanges were covertly recorded by British intelligence at a Trent Park detention centre north of London in an attempt to find out whether they held strategic information useful to the Allies.
Der Spiegel magazine has called the trove of interrogation reports’ a sensational find’. However, in Germany it is likely to reopen old wounds. The country has long argued that many of its 18 million soldiers were honourable men who acted properly. But the accounts in the book, by Soenke Neitzel and Harald Welzer reveal a very different story.