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Blood and Soil: The Memoir of A Third Reich Brandenburger

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_'The author is a sympathetic narrator and he has told his story... with genuine verve and style... [His] South Tyrolean origins, and his role in the Brandenburg Division make the book very distinctive._' Roger Moorhouse. The Brandenburgers were Hitler's Special Forces, a band of mainly foreign German nationals who used disguise and fluency in other languages to complete da _'The author is a sympathetic narrator and he has told his story... with genuine verve and style... [His] South Tyrolean origins, and his role in the Brandenburg Division make the book very distinctive._' Roger Moorhouse. The Brandenburgers were Hitler's Special Forces, a band of mainly foreign German nationals who used disguise and fluency in other languages to complete daring missions into enemy territory. Overshadowed by stories of their Allied equivalents, their history has largely been ignored, making this memoir all the more extraordinary. First published in German in 1984, de Giampietro's highly-personal and eloquent memoir is a vivid account of his experiences. In astonishing detail, he delves into the reality of life in the unit from everyday concerns and politics to training and involvement in Brandenburg missions. He details the often foolhardy missions undertaken under the command of Theodor von Hippel including the June 1941 seizure of the Duna bridges in Dunaburg and the attempted capture of the bridge at Bataisk where half of his unit were killed. Translated into English for the first time, this is a unique insight into a fascinating slice of German wartime history, both as an account of the Brandenburgers and within the very particular context of the author's South Tyrolean origins. Given the very perilous nature of their missions very few of these specially-trained soldiers survived the Second World War and much knowledge of the unit has been lost forever. Widely regarded as the predecessor of today's special forces units, this fascinating account brings to life the Brandenburger Division and its part in history in vivid and compelling detail.


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_'The author is a sympathetic narrator and he has told his story... with genuine verve and style... [His] South Tyrolean origins, and his role in the Brandenburg Division make the book very distinctive._' Roger Moorhouse. The Brandenburgers were Hitler's Special Forces, a band of mainly foreign German nationals who used disguise and fluency in other languages to complete da _'The author is a sympathetic narrator and he has told his story... with genuine verve and style... [His] South Tyrolean origins, and his role in the Brandenburg Division make the book very distinctive._' Roger Moorhouse. The Brandenburgers were Hitler's Special Forces, a band of mainly foreign German nationals who used disguise and fluency in other languages to complete daring missions into enemy territory. Overshadowed by stories of their Allied equivalents, their history has largely been ignored, making this memoir all the more extraordinary. First published in German in 1984, de Giampietro's highly-personal and eloquent memoir is a vivid account of his experiences. In astonishing detail, he delves into the reality of life in the unit from everyday concerns and politics to training and involvement in Brandenburg missions. He details the often foolhardy missions undertaken under the command of Theodor von Hippel including the June 1941 seizure of the Duna bridges in Dunaburg and the attempted capture of the bridge at Bataisk where half of his unit were killed. Translated into English for the first time, this is a unique insight into a fascinating slice of German wartime history, both as an account of the Brandenburgers and within the very particular context of the author's South Tyrolean origins. Given the very perilous nature of their missions very few of these specially-trained soldiers survived the Second World War and much knowledge of the unit has been lost forever. Widely regarded as the predecessor of today's special forces units, this fascinating account brings to life the Brandenburger Division and its part in history in vivid and compelling detail.

30 review for Blood and Soil: The Memoir of A Third Reich Brandenburger

  1. 4 out of 5

    Grant S

    Engrossing second world war autobiography. The author was a member of the 'Brandenburgers' who were considered by some to be Germany's special forces answer to the Commando's and SAS. I didn't know much about this unit so found it a very informative read. It also contains some very evocative thoughts and introspection by the writer about the after effects of being in action and how he was left feeling mentally. What we'd now probably call battle stress. A fair chunk of this book is political and she Engrossing second world war autobiography. The author was a member of the 'Brandenburgers' who were considered by some to be Germany's special forces answer to the Commando's and SAS. I didn't know much about this unit so found it a very informative read. It also contains some very evocative thoughts and introspection by the writer about the after effects of being in action and how he was left feeling mentally. What we'd now probably call battle stress. A fair chunk of this book is political and sheds a light on the writers homeland of 'South Tyrol' and the states attempt to gain freedom from Italy and be incorporated fully into Germany and the 'Third Reich'. In depth and enjoyable war memoir.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Charles m smith jr

    From the other side. A look at war. Very interesting to hear from a soldier who believe in what he was fighting for,then his change of mind. Only to carry on to the end like the true soldier he was.

  3. 5 out of 5

    John Somers

    `13/20. `13/20.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Dan Kurt

    Marvelous read. One should read One should read Manstein’s LOST VICTORIES first where he comments on the Brandenburgers capturing the bridge at Dvinsk and how critical it could have been had Hitler allowed the bridge head to be exploited. This book gives the story on how this bridge was actually captured. Note: the bridge is under a different name in Blood and Soil than in Lost Victories.

  5. 5 out of 5

    James Flack

    I found this a fascinating read about a side of the war that we never learn about. I can understand the author's desire to believe in the German ideal, and what he saw and fight to achieve it, but also you soon see the despair about what he is really doing as the war progresses and questioning his commitment. Really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who wants a more balanced view about WW2 I found this a fascinating read about a side of the war that we never learn about. I can understand the author's desire to believe in the German ideal, and what he saw and fight to achieve it, but also you soon see the despair about what he is really doing as the war progresses and questioning his commitment. Really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who wants a more balanced view about WW2

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christina S

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think it's quite unique as most Brandenbürgers didn't survive to tell Their first-hand accounts as their operations were usually suicide missions . It's very easy to read,well written, action packed . It's only a pity he was never a National Socialist . Because he's from Südtirol ,and all the other Südtirolers ,they only wanted to be joined with the Greater German Reich as Hitler had promised ,and not under the oppressive italian fascist rule which attempted to destroy all german culture in t I think it's quite unique as most Brandenbürgers didn't survive to tell Their first-hand accounts as their operations were usually suicide missions . It's very easy to read,well written, action packed . It's only a pity he was never a National Socialist . Because he's from Südtirol ,and all the other Südtirolers ,they only wanted to be joined with the Greater German Reich as Hitler had promised ,and not under the oppressive italian fascist rule which attempted to destroy all german culture in that area . They were shocked when Hitler & mussolini agreed on the pact that Südtirol would forever remain under italian rule. They were given the option to become german citizens and emigrate to Germany ,or remain italian citizens in italy,or not decide at all. Over 80% opted for Germany . The Author wanted to join the Wehrmacht but was soon after transfered to the "special units" for "special operations " which he was never happy about as he did not voluntarily sign up for that and only wanted to be a Gebirgsjäger . And stupidly he questioned his commander about if it was right and honourable to fight in disguised uniforms and not be in a german uniform , like wtf, this is a war ,the only thing that matters is that you win,the enemy did no different . - consequently, he was always watched by his superiors after his doubting. What I don't like throughout the entire book he was always thinking " what are we actually fighting for? this war is wrong," (no shit,Hitler didn't start the war) & was disillusioned in the Führer . But in any case he was always a loyal soldier and rose to Second Lieutenant ,at the end of the war he was captured,but escaped many times and made his way back home in 1945.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tam Le Blanc

    Giampietro was an ethnic German from South Tyrol. Despite being let down by Hitler who valued his ally Mussolini higher, the people of South Tyrol were eager to join the Wehrmacht. Giampietro’s story moves quickly through training and onto Greece where the Brandenberger unit raced the motorcyclists to raise a swastika over Athens. The book only starts to take a darker turn with the invasion of Russia. Giampietro claims that he unit initially believed a rumour that they were transiting Russia to Ir Giampietro was an ethnic German from South Tyrol. Despite being let down by Hitler who valued his ally Mussolini higher, the people of South Tyrol were eager to join the Wehrmacht. Giampietro’s story moves quickly through training and onto Greece where the Brandenberger unit raced the motorcyclists to raise a swastika over Athens. The book only starts to take a darker turn with the invasion of Russia. Giampietro claims that he unit initially believed a rumour that they were transiting Russia to Iran to attack the British. Brandenburgers camouflaged themselves in Russian uniforms (taken from prisoners because issued uniforms were too clean) their task was to cross bridges and cut detonation wires. First couple of attempts, the bridges were not wired. At one point they had to pop orange smoke to keep a Messerschmidt away. By the time they arrived at Dünaberg, Latvia, the Russians had succeeded in wiring the bridge. After the battle a sniper took a heavy toll on the unit, with the first death attributed to a random bullet. A year later at Rostov, the Brandenbergers were again called upon to seize a key bridge. Sepp criticizes one officer who supported plan he only wanted an iron cross. They had taken the bridges at Dünaburg on the sixth day of war, Rostov was a fortified city with well entrenched positions. And in a grisly reminder that this wasn’t a war of mere steel and machinery: the stench of dead horses. Mission was swapped from camouflaged to urban warfare. They arrived at the first bridge two days late and with part of it blown, they found and repaired a barge to make their way across. They then made their way to yet another bridge. Unlike many of his Russian counterparts, Sepp had a luminescent watch. Unlike actions the previous year, they could not sneak their way across, they had to storm the bridge and the operation went badly. The commander was killed and Sergeant Giampetro had to order a retreat. Sepp was shaken and although he recovered from the initial shock he began to question what they were doing. Another survivor of the battle in Rostov eventually committed suicide with a hand grenade. There are a few nitpicks and question marks. Inconsistent nomenclature for various small arms such as machine pistols, pistols and machine guns. Although by 1942 Giampietro has seen enough failures and death to start questioning what he was doing most of the horror visited on civilians is only obliquely mentioned. The translator could perhaps have provided a bit more background. But this book is focused on the Brandenburg unit and is useful in that context. A useful memoir for those interested in tactics, but it has some obvious limitation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Al Williams

    If for no other reason, this book is well worth the read for its insights into Brandenburger operations. His experiences as part of this division differ greatly from most other TR memoirs that I've read. There is some great reflections on the author's motivations and background, and I found the cultural and national affinity of the South Tyroleans with Germany particularly interesting. There's no doubt a certain degree of embellishment in the recounting of certain elements of the his story, but If for no other reason, this book is well worth the read for its insights into Brandenburger operations. His experiences as part of this division differ greatly from most other TR memoirs that I've read. There is some great reflections on the author's motivations and background, and I found the cultural and national affinity of the South Tyroleans with Germany particularly interesting. There's no doubt a certain degree of embellishment in the recounting of certain elements of the his story, but I am certainly in no position to measure the veracity of another individual's memories or the long term impressions left by his experiences. Especially when the most pertinent details remain accurate. There's enough accounts of action to keep those that crave that type of thing happy but for me, it served very well as an insight into his unique experiences and his capacity for introspection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Guycarrwuzrght

    If you want a first hand account of what being a Brandenburger was like than read this book. Quite an amazing read! If you want to learn about the Brandenbergers and their exploits this your book. Another interesting piece of history I learned was the South Tyrolean situation. A little known struggle for independence for the German people who live in South Tyrol Italy. This part really peaked my interest given how Hitler moved to liberate all german speaking peoples of Europe. The authors struggl If you want a first hand account of what being a Brandenburger was like than read this book. Quite an amazing read! If you want to learn about the Brandenbergers and their exploits this your book. Another interesting piece of history I learned was the South Tyrolean situation. A little known struggle for independence for the German people who live in South Tyrol Italy. This part really peaked my interest given how Hitler moved to liberate all german speaking peoples of Europe. The authors struggle and that of his South Tyrolean brethren is central to the theme of story. I would definitely recommend this book

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michel D. Guernsey

    Excellent account of the Brandenburgers teams in WW2 Excellent first person account of Brandenburg teamwork on the Eastern front by a member of the team and his struggles to get home postwar. Very enjoyable and well edited. What I would like to see is Brandeburger team employment during the closing days of the war retreating across Hungary/Finland and Bohemia. I travelled through those areas in the 1970s and was offered weapons, uniform items and historic accounts from residents who lived in home Excellent account of the Brandenburgers teams in WW2 Excellent first person account of Brandenburg teamwork on the Eastern front by a member of the team and his struggles to get home postwar. Very enjoyable and well edited. What I would like to see is Brandeburger team employment during the closing days of the war retreating across Hungary/Finland and Bohemia. I travelled through those areas in the 1970s and was offered weapons, uniform items and historic accounts from residents who lived in homes and farms during that turbulent period in 1945. A brief accounting of the Brandenburgers activities would be welcomed.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Larmie Fahrendorff

    An interesting detailed account of a soldier's personal battle. I found this book to be not only an account of one soldier's WWII experience, but also his questioning of his original ideals and the realization of the eventual perversion of the leadership's intent. I found his fidelity to his ideals laudable. I do believe, however, that the author may have omitted some details of his battles which were not so laudable, taking this conclusion from other sources regarding details of the battles here An interesting detailed account of a soldier's personal battle. I found this book to be not only an account of one soldier's WWII experience, but also his questioning of his original ideals and the realization of the eventual perversion of the leadership's intent. I found his fidelity to his ideals laudable. I do believe, however, that the author may have omitted some details of his battles which were not so laudable, taking this conclusion from other sources regarding details of the battles herein described.

  12. 4 out of 5

    DARRYL J

    I read this to further my understanding of what motivates a young man during war service. It confirmed my view that Nationalism is a misplaced virtue, it is a form of racism, and can easily be used to justify immorality. I thank the author for writing such an honest account as he could. He described the horror of war vividly.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Daugherty

    Not as actioned packed as I had expected. The author is very humble and mainly focuses his story on what it was like to stay alive and out of captivity. It is good, and it was good to read something from a special operator that is not overly boasting of how he is the greatest to have ever fought.

  14. 5 out of 5

    John Slatton

    A realistic look An amazing and realistic look at World War 2 from a German perspective. The transition from an idealistic youth, to a seasoned noncom, to a disillusioned officer is well laid out. An excellent read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dan S

    Very informative read. Learned a lot about the Tyrol culture and interesting to see the story told from the Wehrmacht perspective.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mark Baines

    An interesting insight into the motivation and thinking of the people in South Tyrol at the start of WW2 and the way the followed Hitler in pursuit of the securing of their German roots, rather than any fascist ideal. The author (and his friends) enlist in the Wermacht and seem to fall into the role of the 'Brandenburger' assault troops. His writings suggest these were the equivalent of commando or similar 'specialist' troops in the British form/use of them, and description of method of use indic An interesting insight into the motivation and thinking of the people in South Tyrol at the start of WW2 and the way the followed Hitler in pursuit of the securing of their German roots, rather than any fascist ideal. The author (and his friends) enlist in the Wermacht and seem to fall into the role of the 'Brandenburger' assault troops. His writings suggest these were the equivalent of commando or similar 'specialist' troops in the British form/use of them, and description of method of use indicate more of the assault pioneer or even 'forlorn hope' of Napoleonic times, who were brought/sent forward for almost suicidal missions to secure a bridgehead required for the success of Blitzkreig. Interesting that there is little on his action/time in Italy post officer training; preferring to muse on the validity of his motivations and the benefit of hindsight. The trek home would probably benefit from some mapping to demonstrate the distance covered; his matter of fact prose gives the impression at the start that this is a relatively short venture whereas it is actually some feat with its own merit.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fulop Gabriel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Johanna Campbell

  19. 4 out of 5

    steven a smierciak

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jacquie Thomson

  21. 4 out of 5

    Vicki Ballard-Gilbreath

  22. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Bentley

  23. 5 out of 5

    G Stephenson

  24. 5 out of 5

    thomas smith

  25. 5 out of 5

    jose luis alonso

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lucio Michaelis

  27. 5 out of 5

    Felopateer Hossam

  28. 5 out of 5

    DAVID MANLEY

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debeehr

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Bilodeau

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