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Summary

A stunning look at World War II from the other side.... From the turret of a German tank, Colonel Hans von Luck commanded Rommel's 7th and then 21st Panzer Division. El Alamein, Kasserine Pass, Poland, Belgium, Normandy on D-Day, the disastrous Russian front - von Luck fought there with some of the best soldiers in the world. German soldiers. Awarded the German Cross in Gold and the Knight's Cross, von Luck writes as an officer and a gentleman. Told with the vivid detail of an impassioned eyewitness, his rare and moving memoir has become a classic in the literature of World War II, a first-person chronicle of the glory - and the inevitable tragedy - of a superb soldier fighting Hitler's war.

©1989 Hans von Luck (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • R
  • Wokingham, United Kingdom
  • 27-08-14

Shame he was on the wrong side

If you could sum up Panzer Commander in three words, what would they be?

Honest, forthright and non-sensasional

What did you like best about this story?

The very sincere way he felt about the fighting

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The journey back home and his feelings of the world he was now away from

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No

Any additional comments?

He was a very honest man who must have felt bad that he was tarred with the brush of Nazism

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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'Allo 'Allo

An interesting and absorbing subject from a participating character right at the centre of the action. My only issue with this audiobook is the narrator, why oh why did an American actor with a perfectly listenable voice insist on an 'Allo 'Allo style German accent that occasionally varied to French when pronouncing words such as 'adjutant'. I listened to the end purely for the sake of the story of an interesting officer.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Les
  • Epsom, United Kingdom
  • 03-05-15

Fascinating funny and horrific read

This guy took part in almost every theatre of the war. Gives a fascinating insight into the life of the average soldier in detail rarely told, a must read for anyone interested in military history, especially from the German perspective!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An Unmissable Different Perspective

As a British person growing up watching war movies you believed all Germans were bad and emotionless. Listening to this book my eyes opened to the German cause and suffering. It also highlighted to me how crazy some of the actions the German high command made during the war. Would you believe that half way through I started to feel sorry for the ordinary German soldier who didn't stand a chance in many aspects but was forced to carry on. Excellent book, highly recommend to anyone to read or listen and get a perspective from the other side of the front line. RIP Hans Von Luck

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • frank
  • Isle of Anglesey
  • 10-01-15

Fascinating read

Superb book for those interested in the German viewpoint - honest and sometimes brutal a must for anyone interested in WWII

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a fantastic read and insight

a fantastic read and insight.
an unbiased and great insight into the other side.
highly recommend this read

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What is the purpose?

It's a very good and well written diary, but I have to ask?

Why ruin the experience, by having a non German speaking narrator read it out with an acquired German accent.

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Powerful

Quite the story.. wow!

Some adventure, I feel motivated get back in touch with people from my own small past now

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A great listen

What a story without the glorification of war! Well written and documented. Enjoyed it immensely

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Amazing Individual

I'd say he was born at the right time but in the wrong place.

To reach such high levels of maturity so young is incredible.

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  • Randall
  • 08-11-16

Reads like Forrest Gump ( a fiction )

This guy has a grand opinion of himself. We are expected to believe all these tales. Von Luck must have been Superman. All his deeds were honorable and all his enemies became good friends, and he was best friends with all the generals in Germany. This book can only be entertaining if you think of it as a fiction or you are very gullible. Maybe Von Luck has "added" a little each time he told his tales until he came up with this grandiose story.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Justin
  • 19-03-18

Great listen but be wary

Any additional comments?

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but do be wary. von Luck was pretty notorious for embellishing his stories. They tended to change slightly with each telling so take what you hear with a grain of salt.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-06-15

Hard to listen to the fake accent

This is a good story if you can get past the horrible fake German accent. If you like this kind of book, you would probably enjoy "A Higher Call" by Adam Makos. It is a great book that is so much easier to listen to.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Jim "The Impatient"
  • 25-11-15

A Lover of His Enemies

He loves the Russians, he loves the Polish, he loves the French, he loves the bedlams. He was a professional solider. He killed Russians, he killed Poles, he killed Frenchmen. This guy never meet an enemy he didn't love and kill. He did not like Hitler or the SS. Pretty interesting how politically correct he is in his old age.

This is a must read for Military enthusiasts and World War II historians. The book is full of German Strategies, military jargon, and high adventure.

I got it, because I thought I might get some answers on why Hitler did what he did and why people followed him. Luck did what he did because he was a Prussian Aristocrat, whose family had a history of being in the military. He followed orders. If told, "Go invade Poland", he did not question it and looked forward to the adventure of getting out and killing Polish people. The same for France and for Russia. He knew nothing about concentration camps, even though all his Jewish friends kept disappearing. I never found out why Hitler invaded anybody.

This is a great book for looking at World War II from the rarely seen other side, as far as strategy goes, but don't look for Why?

20 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • A Texan 2
  • 15-09-14

A compelling look into WW2 from the "other" side

This is not a book I would have normally found on my own. But, a good friend recommended it and I am most grateful that he did. It is a recollection of World War II that everyone should read.

These are the memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck and in it he shares his experiences of his life as an officer in the German army leading up to and through World War II. It also gives his account of the five years he spent after the war in a Soviet POW camp and his eventual return to life as a civilian.

This book is not a glorification or romanticization of war. It is not a defense of Hitler's Germany, nor an apology. It is an explanation of how men who were patriots of their country had that loyalty twisted and abused in Hitler's quest for world domination. It is a view "from the trenches" and gives great insight into both the details of the battles von Luck fought in, and the thoughts and feelings of him and his men through the various stages of the war.

While I did find the narrative bog down from time to time with the details of movements during some of the campaigns, what really makes this book a standout are von Luck's insights into how the German army viewed the war as well as the descriptions of encounters that he had with his enemies both as captor and prisoner. von Luck also brings into this collection additional stories from his companions who got separated from him over the course of the war - of people he befriended in Paris during the time Germany initially occupied it, of subordinates captured by the Americans in North Africa and the time they spent in POW camps in the American Midwest, of the woman who was for a time his fiance before his capture and five year internment.

In war, governments seek to make their citizens see the enemy as something not human. von Luck makes nots of the Nazi propaganda machines efforts to make the German citizens see the Soviets as "sub-humans" at the time that Hitler broke his non-agression pact with Stalin and started the disastrous invasion of the Russian homeland. This book shows that all of these peoples - Russians, Germans, French, Brits, even the Americans - weren't just "others" but were men doing their best to follow the orders of the civilian leaders under difficult circumstances. It is a book anyone who would claim the mandate of leader of a country should read to better understand the human face of war and the young men whose lives are spent engaging in "politics by other means."

For the narration - Bronson Pinchot did an excellent job of bringing this story to life. His inflection, rhythm and accents really made me feel like Colonel von Luck was sitting down in the room with me and telling his story.

24 of 41 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • 26-07-14

Wonderful new perspective; Best narration ever

What was one of the most memorable moments of Panzer Commander?

It was wonderful to hear this perspective from the other side of the conflict (I listened to the book while re-watching Band of Brothers). Hans von Luck was a professional soldier who did an extremely tough job with determination, discipline and high intelligence. The question here is naturally how someone like that could work within the Nazi cloud, and do the Nazi bidding? His contemplative reflection of his own role goes a long way to answering the question for this man at least.

What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

Pinchot's use of a German accent was a spot-on choice, and immaculately executed. His gentle tone also went a long way (rightly or wrongly) to shaping my impression of Hans von Luck himself. I immediately looked at all the other books Pinchot has narrated, and have already picked another one.

Any additional comments?

If you want to see how a refined man of great intelligence could be drawn into the Nazi strategy even though he did not share their ideology, and continue to execute his military assignments with astonishing professionalism even though he knew the war was lost years before, this is the book for you.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Joel Langenfeld
  • 06-12-16

Pinchot, what were you thinking?

Bronson Pinchot is perhaps my favorite male narrator on Audible, but loses his way here. His "German accent" would be acceptable for the voice of a native German speaking character in a novel, but it is clearly a native English speaker with attempting a German accent. Given this is the English memoirs of a native German speaker, this gimmick is a tragic, unforced error of judgement.

von Luck is clearly shaping his memoirs to advocate peaceful coexistence among Europeans. While I have a lot of sympathy with this perspective, one does have to wonder where the line between memoir and advocacy lies.

Military historians will probably find his discussions of some of his accounts of noteworthy actions in WWII short on detail. I found myself drawn to his accounts of life in the Soviet internment camps after the war at least as compelling.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles Tate
  • 16-09-14

Part of the whole story of WWII

Would you listen to Panzer Commander again? Why?

Yes, the subject was interesting, the author erudite and engaging, and the performance delightful

Which character – as performed by Bronson Pinchot – was your favorite?

Hans von Luck, and many of his conversations with various other military figures

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

The pathos of a cultivated and decent fellow caught in the dirty maelstrom of the Second World War.

Any additional comments?

A splendid book to gain insight into aspects of the war not in the common American narrative. Contrary to the usual story the Germans were not monsters, and not even largely Nazi. Also provides that the Russians weren't quite as monstrous as we have been led to believe too. And like most, only wish they had never been subjected to the pernicious ideology of their insane government.

9 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph Hayek
  • 10-06-14

From a former tank commander

If you could sum up Panzer Commander in three words, what would they be?

Delightful, Humbling, Forgive

Who was your favorite character and why?

Von Luck

What about Bronson Pinchot’s performance did you like?

Nice accent...sometimes German...sometimes French...but always delightful. He tried hard to sound German

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Reconciliation is Necessary for Soldiers

Any additional comments?

I was a tank commander with D. Co. 2/112th AR, 49th Armored Division. Military History was my minor in college. I needed to listen to this book. The reader does a great job. He tries the accent. Sometimes it sounds German...sometimes French. But always delightful. It only takes about 15 minutes to get used to it. The book is delightful!! But...if you want to hate someone...Germans, Russians, Blacks, Democrats, Republicans, Gays, Straights, Muslims, Christians...whoever!!!! You will not like this book Von Luck ends up saying that "forgetting" is good..."forgiving" is better..."reconciliation" is the best. He should know! Think you have a reason for hating??? You should have lived his life. I don't think he ever reconciled with the Nazis, but he did with everyone else he fought or suffered under.

19 of 36 people found this review helpful

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  • teak421
  • 10-10-18

outstanding

unbelievably human... excellent battlefield reporting without going too much into depth... meets some fascinating people as well. do not pass up.