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Grenadiers: The Story Of Waffen SS General Kurt 'Panzer' Meyer (Stackpole Military History) (Stackpole Military History Series): The Story of Waffen SS General Kurt "Panzer" Meyer Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Length: 452 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Product Description

German General Kurt "Panzer" Meyer's autobiography is a fascinating insight into the mind of one of Germany's most highly decorated and successful soldiers of World War II. If you love small-unit actions, this is the book for you. Follow Meyer with the 1st SS-Panzer Division "Leibstandarte" and the 12th SS-Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend," from the first day of the war in Poland, through service in France, Russia, and Greece, up until his capture in Normandy in 1944 and his postwar trials and tribulations.

About the Author

Kurt Meyer is a Stackpole Books author.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7438 KB
  • Print Length: 452 pages
  • Publisher: Stackpole Books; New Ed edition (June 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
First let me introduce the fact that I read just about every WWII memoir I can get my hands on and this easily stands out as one of the best if not the best. As a Canadian who is somewhat educated on the happenings of the Normandy Invasion and the actions in and around Falaise, the name Kurt Meyer defenity rang a bell. I have debated with people about Meyers Guilt or Innocence over the slain Canadian POW's on more then a few occasions. However I feel totally re-educated in a few ways because of this title.
Kurt Meyer was a un-apologetic Nazi, this however is misunderstood, when he is called a unapologetic nazi, this seems a little harsh, Meyer dosn't praise any racial or radical ambitions, rather he conveys how his soldiers fought and died at his command, how this effected him and how he desperatly wanted to clear thier names which were tarnished by those higher up.
Kurt Meyer was a excellent soldier and furthermore a very distinguishable man, I also suggest "Meeting of Generals - Tony Foster" which also touches on this mans life, but from Meyer himself through Grenadiers you get the impression that Meyer simply provides the truth as he saw it, and he realises its entirely up to the reader as to wether you believe it.
Ethier way the book is gripping, heart wrenching and a title that you will not want to finish, you will be sad to see it end much less ever forget it. If you are a Enthusiest or a student of WWII then you simply must have this book.
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Format: Paperback
There are two parts to this book, on one side we have a first-hand account of the war from the view of a soldier and on the other what appears to be a propaganda leaflet.

To start with, Meyer provides the account of the war he fought, starting in Poland, campaigning through the Balkans, his battles on the Eastern Front, and his final battles fought in the west preluding to his capture, trail and imprisonment as a convicted war criminal. Meyer does provide a graphic account of his experiences, and one is able to appreciate to some degree what it must have felt like to have been there.

However to the other side: one notes throughout Meyer's work how his men never commit any war crimes in the east nor the west however he gladly provides various accounts of the war crimes committed by his foes. As the book proceeds into the chapters dealing with Normandy and beyond, one gets a sense of some pretty warped and radical views: he notes how it was the French resistances own fault French civilians were shot in reprisals and does not provide any feeling of remorse for such comments. He allows room to denounce the Allied bombing of Caen, stating the city was abandoned, yet fails to mention how it was major supply node, headquarters, and eventually a retreat route for German forces - it was hardly abandoned of German forces. It is these types of comments, and his defensive nature of the murder his men committed against Canadian troops that make half this book feel like a propaganda leaflet.
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Format: Paperback
Great book about Meyer's experiences in WW2. I read this after reading Rommel's book and I found Meyer's book to be almost as good. That being said, he does spend a great deal of time defending the reputation of the SS in general and trying to clear his name from allegations that he was responsible for the murder of 150 Canadian soldiers in the opening days of the Normandy campaign. The end does tend to drag a bit as a spends too much time detailing his prison experiences.

This rather dull ending is more then made up for by his fascinating insights into leadership and troop motivation, especially by hand grenade.

When coupled with Rommel's book and Guderin's, one gets a very clear picture of command at all levels in the WW1 and WW2 Germany army. The platoon and company level are covered by Rommel, brigade and divisional level by Meyer while the corps, army and army group levels are covered by Guderian.
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Format: Paperback
This book should be read by everyone. The myth that Waffen SS were all 'ideologically correct nazis' is dispelled by this book which shows how innocent minded youth coupled with worn-out veterans endured horrible hardship like cold, bombing, artillery, the constant death of close friends, and crazy overwhelming odds. Despite the hell of war, these brave warriors conducted operations of tactical brilliance often inspired by many instances of genius by Kurt Meyer who may have been the most effective tactical level commander in modern military history.

The book covers actions including the lighting quick advances through the Lowlands, Greece and Barbarossa throughout which Meyer ordered his recon units to drive around all resistance and keep going at maximum speed to cause disruption. Later actions involve careful sneak attacks always relying on surprise, and finally the sad destruction of the 12th SS youth division through bombing, artillery, murder by French resistance, and the futile struggle to keep the Falaise Gap open while other units tried to escape.

One of the most educational and interesting WW2 books ever written.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9fa156e4) out of 5 stars 69 reviews
57 of 60 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dcd9390) out of 5 stars The View From the Other Side June 8 2005
By John Matlock - Published on
Format: Paperback
Born in 1910, Kurt Meyer was one of the younger generals to serve in the German Army during World War II. Most of the other generals, just like in the American/British armies, had served in World War I.

Meyer's combat career really began with the invasion of Poland in 1939. From there he fought in most of the major battles: Poland, Rotterdam, France, Balkans, Greece, Peloponnesus, Soviet Union and finally France again. In France in 1944 he was commander of the 12.SS-Panzer "Hitlerjugend" division. He was heavily involved with the fighting around Caen and the Falaise Pocket where he was captured.

In British and American histories of Caen and Falaise there is the big argument regarding the British/Montgomery view vs. the American/Patton view. Here is the view of a senior German commander of what happened during the battles. As you might guess, he contradicts both views.

After the war General Meyer was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to death. This was commuted to life in prison where he actually served nine years. He died in 1961, only 51 years old.

This book is based on an autobiography he wrote shortly after his release from prison, newly translated from the German.
58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dcd9798) out of 5 stars Panzermeyer! Oct. 19 2007
By M. G Watson - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like a lot of you reading this, I have read innumerable books about the Second World War, most of them from the German perspective. The majority of these were testaments by former army officers or, in the latter instances, Party-government bigwigs. GRENADIERS was the first work I had ever bought penned by a former SS man, in this case Kurt "Panzer" Meyer. I was very interested to see what an ex-member of two notorious Waffen-SS divisions, the "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" and the "Hitlerjugend", would have to say...not merely about his combat experiences but about Hitler, National Socialism, and the war in general.

GRENADIERS exists on several levels simultaneously: a pure combat memior by a man who saw a hell of a lot of it, a treatise on the relationship of the Waffen-SS to its putative parent body, the Gestamt or "Total" SS, a spirited defense of the Waffen-SS against the "libels" leveled against it by the victorious Allies and by the postwar German government, and a memior of Meyer's trial for war crimes, his imprisonment (originally a death sentence) and his eventual release. On all these levels it much so that it permenently changed my view of the Waffen-SS. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As a combat memior, the book is highly entertaining. It begins in media res, with Meyer's antitank unit rumbling into Poland in September 1939, and continues at a steady clip through the campaigns in France (1940) the Balkans (1941), Russia (1941 - 1943) and finally Normandy (1944), during which time he served with many legendary Waffen-SS frontfighters, including Fritz Witt, Max Wünsche, Michael Wittmann, Gerd Bremer, Theodor Wisch, and Sepp Dietrich. Meyer, who finished his career as the acting commander of the 12th SS Panzer Division, offers almost no biographical information about himself, and seldom "flashes back" to his peacetime existence. For the most part he is simply recounting tales of battle at the head of an elite recon unit as it was transferred from one hotspot to another all over Europe. Because Meyer's troops were motorized, riding on motorcycles, amphibious wagons, armored cars or assault guns, his accounts tend to be like his style of fighting: straight-ahead, breathless and fast-paced (not for nothing was his original nickname "Schneller" Meyer). He's an exciting narrator, if not a very skilled one, and he manages to convey a lot about his personality and philosophy of war without lecturing the reader. His accounts of the Russian and '44 French campaigns are particularly interesting to students of those theaters; he often speaks of the physical and psychological burdens placed on the German soldier by Russia's brutal climate and vast spaces, and of similar strains imposed in the West by the Allies overwhelming superiority of material. He writes without bitterness, and with a strong sense of respect to his own troops and to their opponents, be they Poles, Russians, Canadians (the French don't compare too well).

Meyer makes some very interesting points about the average Waffen-SS man in his outfit. He notes that they were very young (19 years old on average for privates), that 62% of them had been in technical or skilled trades before the war, and that very few of them had actually been members of the Allgemeine (General) SS before the war began. "These young men," he insists. "Fought for Germany and certainly did not die for a political party." Their motivations for joining the Waffen-SS were made from simpler stuff: it had the most attractive uniforms, its exploits were ballyhooed in the German press and it was regarded universally as an elite unit...all powerful motivators to young men looking for glory.

Meyer, who was captured in 1944 and tried for war crimes immediately after the war, recounts his trial with some bitterness, and not merely because he was, as were most German POWs of any standing, badly mistreated in captivity. Having taken great pains to show that he fought chivalrously at all times, he regarded the trial as a humiliation and a disgrace, the moreso because most of the evidence against him was based on heresay, perjury and ex post facto jurisprudence. Having his sentence commuted from death to life imprisonment was, in fact, worse than death for him, since he was incarcerated not in a POW camp or even a place like Spandau Prison but in an ordinary Canadian hooscow - with rapists, arsonists and murderers as cellmates. The agonizing struggle to obtain his release, waged in part by the Canadian press (which righteously pointed out that Canada had violated its own laws in convicting Meyer), and his life as a spokesman for HIAG in West Germany (the Waffen-SS veterans' association, dedicated to securing military benefits for Waffen-SS veterans) close out the book on a more or less uplifting note...though the reader may find himself exhausted emotionally by the time the last page is read. Meyer's journey is truly a punishing one.

It is a defense of the Waffen-SS, however, that the book is most intriguing. Meyer points out - repeatedly - that the Waffen-SS had relatively little to do with its parent body, and was merely a military organization in a slightly different uniform. The picture painted by history - of a band of murderous racial fanatics, screaming "Sieg Heil!" as they shot prisoners in the neck, is (Meyer insists) nonsense. Doubtless there were men of this type in Waffen-SS units, but as Meyer points out, nearly all of his opponents routinely shot prisoners in cold blood, bombed defenseless towns and used civilians as human shields - including, he adds pointedly, the Western Allies, who have tended throughout history to portray themselves as knights in shining armor.

The book isn't perfect. Meyer touches on the murders committed by his men in Normandy only in terms of explaining, after the fact, how he was disgusted by them and ordered an investigation into their commission; he tells the reader nothing about his life before the war or why he ended up in the SS in the first place (he was transferred from a Police unit, the German Police becoming part of the SS in 1936) and his style of writing is amateurish, though not without talent. None of this, however, was a significant detraction from GRENADIERS, which in the final analysis is not so much a memior but a tribute to the 900,000 men who, whatever their motivations or war records, were collectively dubbed "criminals" in 1945...and have spent, along with their families, dealing with the fallout of this sweeping judgement. But as Meyer is quick to point out, the ultimate verdict on a soldier comes from his opponent, and as one Canadian soldier exclaimed: "The SS were a bad bunch of bastards, but were they ever soldiers!"
40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dcd95a0) out of 5 stars Riveting account of one of the best Waffen-SS commanders July 17 2002
By wonderrat - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It's great to see that this book is available again. I got mine a while back when it was hard to find. Anybody with an interest in military history should get a copy. Buy it and be enthralled by this account of perhaps one of the most famous commanders in the Waffen-SS
Grenadiers is the autobiography of Kurt "Panzer" Meyer, arguably one of the best, if not the best commander in the Waffen-SS. Panzermeyer's military accomplishments include being one of the most decorated soldiers in the German armed forces during World War 2 (Knight's Cross with Swords and Oakleaves, and probably the Diamonds as well had he not been captured) and a promotion to Brigadier General and command of the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" at the age of 33, making him the youngest general on either side during the war. Had he not been captured late in 1944, Panzermeyer would have likely been named commander of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and the Battle of the Bulge could have turned out quite differently.
Meyer's account is gripping and grimly realistic, depicting the brutal fighting during the war and the individual bravery of the men under his command. The career of Kurt Meyer is a microcosm of German fortunes during the war: glory, capture, defeat, and eventual rehabilitation. Meyer comes out as extremely modest (he credits his men for earning him his awards and promotions) and fearless (he led from the front and was wounded numerous times and several of his drivers were killed fighting alongside him). Read Panzermeyer's account of how he led his men and his motivational method in leading his men during the Greek campaign. I certainly don't think any officer today would toss a hand grenade into his own men to make them advance, but it does show the fighting spirit of the Waffen-SS.
As commander of the reconnaisance batallion of of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, Meyer earned his reputation as a soldier willing to take risks and thereby gaining tremendous results. His later career in the Hitlerjugend was marked by accusations that he ordered the execution of Canadian prisoners during the fighting in Normandy while in command of the 12th SS Panzer Division. Meyer was sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and was eventually released after serving ten years. One interesting tidbit. Meyer was probably saved by a petition written on his behalf by Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, the archbishop of Muenster and a noted anti-Nazi. Also, Canadian troops were accused of killing German prisoners as well at Normandy. Even Canadian journalists and officers confirm this in their attempts to overturn what was probably an unjust decision. Passions run hot in battle and unfortunate incidents often occur. Meyer probably had no knowledge of the actions taken by some of his troops (although Wilhelm Mohnke, one of Meyer's regimental commanders, probably condoned the execution of prisoners- Mohnke has been accused of war crimes commited against British prisoners in 1940, against Canadians in 1944, and possibly knowing about/condoning the events in Malmedy during the Battle of the Bulge, although he only served time as a POW and never was placed on trial). Meyer was the victim of victor's justice.
Meyer, to his credit showed no rancor towards his captors and frequently praises the bravery of his enemies, including Soviet troops. The book is relatively free of any political views, even though Meyer was a member of the Nazi Party, as were most of the high-ranking SS officers. Some reviewers have noted the wordy style, but that's probably a result of an almost exact translation from the original German (look at the works of the famous German authors like Thomas Mann or Guenther Grass). It does read rather quickly though, unlike Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann, but that's a differnt subject!
One irony, Meyer died on his 50th birthday while trying to petition the German government to grant Waffen-SS veterans the same rights as other German veterans of the war, a goal which remains unfulfilled.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dcd9ba0) out of 5 stars Tactics to be used when constanly out numbered. July 4 2007
By Johnny 88 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kurt Meyer clearly shows how in Poland, France, Greece, Russia the familiar concept "blitzkrieg" is put to use. What was extremely eye opening was that the Germans (Kurt Meyers troops) were always outnumbered, yet with superior tactics and leadership they were able to come out on top. Kurt Meyer clearly illustrates how this was possible, through personal accounts. Furthermore, I was suprised that from the very beginning in Poland that the fighting was fierce - Greece had fierce fighting, and even from the very first month of the Russian campaign the Germans had their hands full.
As you read this book you will see that Meyer used great tactics and was very aggresive to achieve success, yet several times he wrote about how scared he was, how he cried many times at the loss of various friends - Not very Hollywood for a warrior - but very real.
The Normandy fighting is highlighted by how extensively the Germans were bombed by artillery, naval guns, four engined bombers, and attack fighters (the fighter planes according to Meyer were the most feared).

For those that beleive most if not all Waffen SS were involved with atrocities, and are annoyed that Meyer does not confess to the atrocities he comitted, should read James Bacque's Other Losses - after May 8th 1945 approximately 1,000,000 German POWs died under the care of the USA and the French - Obviously the majority of American soldiers and officers were not involved in the death of all those POWs.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9dcd9bc4) out of 5 stars Historically worth it March 25 2002
By Paul H. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wonder if I read the same book as the other reviewers. This book is fascinating since it was written by a highly decorated officer who served in some of the most important campaigns of WWII in France, Belgium, Greece, Poland, and the Soviet Union and an SS officer at that. Meyer was clearly a man of action who was a capable and lucky leader of men. There are several accounts where Meyer almost ends the war early as officers and drivers near him meet hot steel. This is not a detailed "how to command men" text other than it is clear that Meyer and the other SS junior officers lead from the front and it does not provide tactical or strategic overview of any particular battle (other than Meyer's opinion that the HitlerJugend (12th SS) should have been pulled from Caen).
The language is a bit archaic, but not distractingly so. However, multiple passages include phases like "the motor was our weapon, I pushed our men faster and faster, we could not give the enemy a break" and "the brave and loyal <insert SS officer> fell to enemy fire while leading his men as an excellent soldier and an officer". Meyer was certainly a warrior, a man of "blood and iron", he was not, however, a historian or a war reporter.
The trial of Meyer is handled in what appears to be an honest fashion and Meyer does not seem to be a war criminal by this account. He does not doubt that executions occurred when front line soldiers captured the enemy in tense, violent situations, but he is also honest enough to point out that it occurred on both the Allied and the Axis sides of the lines. Meyer provides a convincing argument that the Waffen SS was a separate entity from the extermination camp system (if for no other reason than they were too busy fighting the armies of those who took up arms against Nazi Germany)
This book is worth reading in the sense that it does provide insights into the mindset and the personality of one of the bravest of officers, a member of the SS, a man decorated by Hitler, a man who opposed the July assassination attempt, and yet a man who claims to have served for his love of Germany and not to have been aware of the extermination program or the aims of the criminal regime he served.