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The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge


The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge Cover

ISBN13: 9781137278548
ISBN10: 1137278544
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Werner Otto Müller-Hill served as a military judge in the Werhmacht during World War II. From March 1944 to the summer of 1945, he kept a diary, recording his impressions of what transpired around him as Germany hurtled into destruction—what he thought about the fate of the Jewish people, the danger from the Bolshevik East once an Allied victory was imminent, his longing for his home and family and, throughout it, a relentless disdain and hatred for the man who dragged his beloved Germany into this cataclysm, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Müller-Hill calls himself a German nationalist, the true Prussian idealist who was there before Hitler and would be there after. Published in Germany and France, Müller-Hill's diary has been hailed as a unique document, praised for its singular candor and uncommon insight into what the German army was like on the inside. It is an extraordinary testament to a part of Germany's people that historians are only now starting to acknowledge and fills a gap in our knowledge of WWII.


A recently discovered diary held by a German military judge from 1944 to 1945 that sheds new light on anti-Hitler sentiments inside the German army

About the Author

Werner Otto Müller-Hill was a military judge in the Wehrmacht who began a diary in the last days of World War II. He survived the war and went on to become a prosecutor. He died in 1977.Robert Gellately is the Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University and recently was the Bertelsmann Visiting Professor of Twentieth Century Jewish Politics and History at Oxford University. He is the author of Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler and Backing Hitler, and he edited The Nuremberg Diaries by Leon Goldensohn.

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HistoryWriter, October 14, 2013 (view all comments by HistoryWriter)
Werner Otto Muller-Hill was an upper-middle class German from Frieburg. He served as a military judge in the First World War before he went home to pursue a legal career. He was recalled to active duty in the German Wehrmacht, again to serve as a military judge in 1940. He was very pro-German, and very anti-Nazi. He started keeping a journal in March 1944 as a record for his young son, in the event he did not survive the war. Defeatism and criticizing the Fuhrer were crimes in Hitler's Germany, so if the things Muller-Hill wrote in his diary were ever found out, it could mean his death. But he survived the war, closing his journal two weeks after the German surrender to the Allies. He was sixty years old at the end of the war. Muller-Hill died in 1977.
German military justice was draconian during WWII. For example, the introduction provides the statistic that during WWI, German military courts sentenced 48 soldiers to death. However, under Nazi rule from 1933 to 1945 at least 20,000 and maybe as many as 33,000 or more soldiers, civilians, and POWs subject to military justice were put to death. (p. xvi) As Benjamin Carter Hett says, "Nazi military law...specified both harsh penalties and a speedy procedure, with few rights for defendants." (p. xix) Werner Otto Muller-Hill was one of the "good" judges though, who obviously thought a soldier would perform better back in his unit rather than hanging on the end of a rope.
What makes Muller-Hill's diary so interesting, and so valuable as a historical tool, is the amount of information he had, or moreover, what he knew. On April 5, 1944 Muller-Hill wrote that "We are rushing head-long into the worst kind of defeat...In a year we'll know more!!!" He almost predicted the outcome of the war and the date of Germany's defeat. Filtered through propaganda, briefings through his chain of command, newspaper and radio, this rear echelon officer knew quite a bit about things that previously we thought the average German did not. Along with his insight, he was often sarcastic and sometimes humorous. He talks of missiles being fired at London as "retribution" for the landings in Normandy (pp. 49-52) and also predicts the futility of the Battle of the Bulge (p. 131). He praises the attempt on Hitler's life (p. 59) and is upset about the use of 14-year old boys being put into defensive positions toward the end of the war (p. 92).
Most startling is Muller-Hill's rant about a speech given by Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, where he writes "What nerve this man has! How dare he talk about gruesome maltreatment of women and children, when we've summarily murdered hundreds of thousands of Jewish women and children in Poland and Russia!" (p. 155). For me this helps to dispel the myth that the general populace of Germany, particularly the Wehrmacht, had no knowledge of the Holocaust before the end of the war.
"The True German" is a quick read, and in the real voice of an astute observer of what was going on around him. Reading this book provides the opportunity to hear what a very knowledgeable German officer was thinking at the time the events unfolded around him. His words are not filtered by a historian or other writer. The book is, in fact, a primary source document, both enlightening and entertaining. A nice addition to your WWII library.
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Product Details

Mueller-hill, Werner Otto
Palgrave MacMillan
Hett, Benjamin Carter
Gellately, Robert
Mueller-Hill, Werner Otto
Military - World War II
Lawyers & Judges
Europe - Germany
World History-Germany
Publication Date:
Includes one 8-page black-and-white phot
10 x 7 x 2 in 1 lb

Related Subjects

Biography » Lawyers and Judges
Biography » Military
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
History and Social Science » Europe » Germany » Nazi Germany
History and Social Science » Military » World War II » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
History and Social Science » World History » Germany » General

The True German: The Diary of a World War II Military Judge New Hardcover
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Product details 240 pages Palgrave MacMillan - English 9781137278548 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , A recently discovered diary held by a German military judge from 1944 to 1945 that sheds new light on anti-Hitler sentiments inside the German army
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