In Soldaten, the German authors Neitzel and Welzer draw on 150,000 pages of transcripts of the prisoners’ conversations to examine what led ordinary Germans to become willing participants in the most effective killing machine in world history.

What is truly terrifying about this transcripts, though, is that the atrocities committed against British targets were minor compared with those in Europe. The horrors of the Holocaust have been well documented, but the casual manner in which German soldiers raped and murdered their way through Eastern Europe is on a different level to anything experienced in Britain.

As to the motivation of those responsible for these war crimes, the authors conclude there were two key factors. Many of the Germans involved in these horrendous acts were just having “fun”. More alarming, perhaps, is the realisation that the rest actually believed in what they were doing.

The Daily Telegraph


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