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Summary

Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just 17-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticeship at the Glaser bakery in Memeler Strasse and walked into the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin as a raw, volunteer recruit.

On arrival at the Eastern Front in late summer 1941, Erwin was assigned to a frontline communications squad and soon discovered that survival was a matter of luck - or the protection of a guardian angel. Good fortune finally deserted Erwin on 11 July 1943 when shrapnel sizzled through his lung during the epic Battle of Kursk-Prokhorovka. Following a period of recovery, and promotion to Unterscharführer, Erwin took up a post as machine-gun instructor with the Ausbildung und Ersatz Bataillon.

From the war on the southern sector of the Eastern Front to a bomb-shattered Berlin populated largely by old men and demoralized lonely women, this candid eyewitness account offers a unique and sometimes surprising perspective on the life of a young Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler volunteer.

©2013 Estate of Erwin Bartmann/Derik Hammond (P)2017 Tantor

Critic reviews

"This is a valuable memoir, providing both a good account of the nature of the fighting in the East, and the changing attitudes of the author, both towards the Nazi regime and the chances of final victory." ( History of War)

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What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Terrible choice of narrator

This book gives an interesting viewpoint to the war in Russia however the narrators american accent and terrible american pronunciations have ruined this as an audio book

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Pro-Nazi?

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Interesting to hear a story from someone in the Nazi SS.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Fur Volk and Fuhrer?

I was surprised that the author had selective amnesia about anything negative regarding the SS and the Nazi regime.
Although his parents were Nazi party members and he was indoctrinated into the racist system he hardly mentions antisemitism and even claims to have been friendly and helped Jewish neighbours.
I don't believe a Nazi would call good morning to a Jewish labour in 1939 and go out of his way to help them in 1940?
Erwin implies that the SS Leibstandart had nothing to do with war crimes which goes against all the historical evidence.
From the very start of the war the Leibstandarte comited atrocities,
In 1939 members of the LSSAH committed atrocities in numerous Polish towns, including the murder of 50 Jews in Błonie and the massacre of 200 civilians, including children, who were machine gunned in Złoczew. Shootings also took place in Bolesławiec, Torzeniec, Goworowo, Mława, and Włocławek.
On 28 May 1940 the Leibstandarte had taken the village of Wormhout, only ten miles from Dunkirk. After their surrender, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, along with some other units (including French soldiers) were taken to a barn in La Plaine au Bois near Wormhout and Esquelbecq. It was there that troops of the Leibstandarte 2nd Battalion committed the Wormhoudt massacre, where 80 British and French prisoners of war were killed.
The list of crimes go's on and on but for Erwin and his story the SS are all good chaps.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The naration was a little monotone.

Could you see Fur Volk and Fuhrer being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Only if you want to see a Nazi properganda film.

Any additional comments?

A book about the SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler that glosses over antisematism against the Jews and war crimes against prisoners and civilians is a work of fiction and not a credible memoir of the SS at war.
Unfortunatly this book could be seen as Nazi properganda as it distorts the facts and portraise the SS troops as heros when they were political fanatics who took part in some of the worst crimes of the 20th century.
Bottom line is Erwin only tells you what he wants you to hear.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent first hand account of the life of a member of the SS

I must say I thought this book to be excellent and gripping to say the least .
Had me picturing actual events as he actually lived them ....
Well done to all involved in this books publishing.....
Regards,
JJ Y

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very very good! *review may contain spoilers*

This is a very enjoyable book, however, though the performance is good enough, it keeps to the same tone from start to finish so it can feel a bit monotonous after lengthy listening times.

I've been looking into a lot of memoirs from the German perspective of WW2 and to find one from an SS soldier, I jumped to it!

The book follows his life from a young age to joining the SS, to his "retirement". (trying to avoid spoilers)
Erwin goes into a good deal of detail with his stories on the Eastern front, though there are surprisingly few regarding what we know the SS were well known for on the Eastern front, whether they are deliberately left out or he genuinely never taken part, I doubt I'll ever find out.

History is history, and everyone has their perception of it, so please try not to view this book as Nazi propaganda as some seem to view German memoirs.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A brilliant view into a soldier’s life. A definite must...

The story of a young man who wished to join the best regiment that Germany offered at that time is very entertaining and extremely humbling.
It provides a real insight into the second world war and will no doubt dispel several cliched ideas and opinions of the Waffen SS in general.

The only problem is the terrible pronunciation by the narrator, both with his attempt at any German words and also the place names in England.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent account

Excellent candid and honest account of SS LAH veteran, recommend to anyone with an interest in WW2 as such accounts are quite rare.

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  • Roo
  • GERRARDS CROSS Buckinghamshire
  • 19-11-17

WW2 The tragedy of the 20th Century

I like the story of an ordinary person caught up in world shattering events.
For the lower classes, whether your master be a facist or a communist, the outcome is just the same.........

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

really well written and read.

interesting and compelling perspective of an elite young German soldier. so much detail, very vivid. highly recommended

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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a brilliant accout

could not stop listening it was a very good account of what it must have been like for Mr Bartman. Thanks

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating

This was my first foray with an audio book. I enjoy seeing the Second World War from the German perspective. The content and delivery was excellent. I would recommend this book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffrey
  • 19-07-17

Sehr gut.

Slightly naive, but honest. The end of the war chapters were the best. It is worth a read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Thomas
  • 30-12-17

best WW2 audio of all time

"the Russians tanks came for the front line.... that is when I saw naked German women and children tied to the tanks alive!......filthy dogs I thought and paying them back is all I could think of...." If this doesn't grab you by the balls then you need to wake up from the dead.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Daniel S Seely
  • 06-08-17

Wow what a ride

These guys had a life not many will experience. Hell on the eastern front with sex strewn about. No doubt there are many men now forgotten whose stories we would die for.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Peter Cranley
  • Peter Cranley
  • 27-07-17

Incredible Biography

What did you love best about Fur Volk and Fuhrer?

Totally absorbing - did not want to turn it off. Cant believe the author is 88 years old.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Nick H.
  • Nick H.
  • 10-06-17

Insight into Waffen SS

Interesting autobiographical look into the life of a loyal Waffen SS soldier who fought to the end of the war in the Liebstandarte. Gives a unique look from the perspective of a soldier uninvolved in anything around the einsatzgruppen or murder squads. The majority of the Waffen SS were men who just wanted to be a part of Germany's elite fighting formations. This book tells the story of one of those men and I absolutely inhaled it. Great listen, check it out.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rhonda
  • 07-04-18

The Ost Front

Where does Fur Volk and Fuhrer rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Close to the top in books about the Second World War.The best and most honest book about the Russian Front.

What other book might you compare Fur Volk and Fuhrer to and why?

It is the best book on the Russian front I've seen .The Forgotten Solider is another good book about the Russian.

Have you listened to any of James Foster’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the best of his books I have listened to.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The honesty of this book .

Any additional comments?

For those who like personal accounts of the common solider this a book for you

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bruce Lynn
  • Bruce Lynn
  • 22-03-18

Highly recommended

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of World War II from a professional German soldiers point of view. The author explains that not every member of the SS was a fervent Nazi. He also enumerates some of the many atrocities committed by the Russians against German civilians.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • lindseyS
  • 23-02-18

A great prospective of life of a German Soldier.

Great book that shows the horrors of the Russian front and the soldiers that lived it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James Carl Barsz, MD
  • 02-05-17

I admire this man's loyalty

I loved this book. I have never before read an SS man's reminiscences, so free of political or self-serving rhetoric.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • PJ
  • 20-02-18

Fascinating story from "the greatest generation."

While narratives from Allied veterans are fascinating and more plentiful in number, it is especially fascinating and valuable to hear the stories and experiences from those who were in an elite squad, faced so much conflict, beat the odds of survival but lost the war. People were indeed of a different generation and they reveal different mindsets and attitudes, shaped by the circumstances they faced, than young people today. Erwin survived the odds to live a well-deserved life in peace and I am glad he shared his tale.

My only and minor complaint about the performance is that I wish the German words would have been more accurately pronounced by the narrator.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful