Gunter Horst Beetz was born in Berlin in 1926. Growing up as part of a typical family-his father was a banker, his mother a housewife-he joined the Hitler Youth-somewhat against his wishes-and after a short period manning anti-aircraft guns in Berlin he ultimately found himself in Normandy, fighting the Allies, where he was captured in July 1944.
`A Soldier of the Reich
: An Autobiography' documents one man's life in Nazi Germany. It examines what it was like to grow up alongside the rise of fascism, exploring the consequences it had on Beetz's life, including what this meant for his relationship with his Jewish girlfriend, Ruth. Beetz also relates his time as an unenthusiastic soldier fighting in Normandy, commenting on the ethics of war, his first sexual encounter with a French prostitute, and life in the sapper battalion with his and his comrades' bungling attempts at front-line soldiery. He was captured in July 1944 and then describes in illuminating detail the life of an ordinary prisoner of war in America. After two years in Pennsylvania he was transferred first for a short period in Belgium, and then to a PoW camp in Ely, England where remained until 1948.
Including previously unpublished images from the author's personal collection, this first-hand account explores a perspective rarely acknowledged in discussions of the Second World War: that of an ordinary Wehrmacht soldier, detailing the beliefs and motivations that shaped him as a person.
A Soldier of the Reich
1 Growing Up in Berlin; 2 Hitler becomes Chancellor; 3 Germany Expands, the Olympics, and the Hitler Youth; 4 War is Declared; 5 Attack on Russia; 6 Gunter's Club; 7 Filming; 8 Luftwaffen Helper; 9 Post Office; 10 Reichs Labour Service; 11 Call Up into Infantry; 12 Journey to France; 13 Training in France; 14 Transfer to Pioneers; 15 At Pont Croix; 16 Cycling to Normandy; 17 Night Stops-Morning Cycle; 18 First Training: Tank Destroying; 19 Patrols and Such; 20 Battlegroup Krauskopf; 21 Captured by the Enemy: A Prisoner of War; 22 Steel Town; 23 Lumberjacking; 24 Return to Europe: A Prisoner of Gendarmes; 25 Work as a POW in England.