Tanks Break Through!: A German Soldier’s Account of War in the Low Countries and France, 1940

SF Tafel

There are many eye-witness accounts of the military disaster that led to the fall of France, 1940, from the Allied point of view.  For a look at the experiences of the common German soldier, there is no better source than Tanks Break Through! written by Alfred-Ingemar Berndt, a journalist and close associate of propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. When the 1940 attack was in the offing, Berndt joined the Wehrmacht and afterward published his recollections. Berndt's memoir is a tale of German military prowess, valor and violent death, a Teutonic Iliad. His gruesome descriptions of battle are morbidly fascinating. Hitler sensed French weakness and unwillingness to fight. Berndt writes of the formidable foe the French faced. 
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About the author

 Alfred-Ingemar Berndt was born 22 April 1905 in the West Prussian city of Bromberg, now Bydgoszcz in Poland. Berndt's family was expelled and dispossessed from West Prussia in 1920, a result of the Versailles Treaty. In December 1928, after interrupted study of German literature and volunteer work for German newspapers, Berndt got a job at Wolffs Telegraphisches Bureau (WTB), the largest news agency in Germany. Berndt was able to disguise his Nazi leanings as serious journalism. When Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, Berndt’s position in the Kampfbund für deutsche Kultur led to his promotion in Wolffs Telegraphisches Bureau, which had become the Nazi press office, the Deutsche Nachrichtenbüro (DNB). In December 1933 he became chief editor of the DNB. Joseph Goebbels, with his doctorate in German literature from Bonn University, knew a good writer when he read one. In 1935 Goebbels hired Berndt as official head of the Reich Press Office in the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. In April 1936, Berndt was appointed head of the press department of the Propaganda Ministry (Division IV). After the partitioning of the press department in March 1938, Berndt was made head of the newly created home department (Division IV-A). Berndt devised the propaganda for the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland. In February 1940, Berndt reported that he had fulfilled his task of adapting the German broadcasting system to the requirements of war and war propaganda. He was released from all functions in the Propaganda Ministry and enlisted as a volunteer in the Wehrmacht. In the French campaign he was a sergeant in Heavy Tank Division 605. He was awarded the Iron Cross second class, 27 May 1940. On June 6, 1940 he received the Iron Cross First Class. In May 1941 he went back to the front; this time as a lieutenant on the staff of the German Afrika Korps under Lieutenant General Erwin Rommel. Berndt pulled out all the stops of the propaganda organ to blare out the myth of Rommel the "Desert Fox." After a dispute with Goebbels, Berndt volunteered for combat. In September 1944, through the mediation of Heinrich Himmler, Berndt was elevated to the military rank of SS-Hauptsturmführer, the equivalent of captain, in the Waffen SS. According to several eyewitnesses, Berndt, as commander of the Second Division of SS Panzer Regiment 5 "Viking," was killed at Veszprém, Hungary, during an attack by Soviet dive bombers, March 28, 1945.

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SF Tafel
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Published on
Nov 23, 2016
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History / Europe / France
History / Europe / Germany
History / Europe / Western
History / Military / World War II
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Barbara W. Tuchman—the acclaimed author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning classic The Guns of August—once again marshals her gift for character, history, and sparkling prose to compose an astonishing portrait of medieval Europe.
The fourteenth century reflects two contradictory images: on the one hand, a glittering age of crusades, cathedrals, and chivalry; on the other, a world plunged into chaos and spiritual agony. In this revelatory work, Barbara W. Tuchman examines not only the great rhythms of history but the grain and texture of domestic life: what childhood was like; what marriage meant; how money, taxes, and war dominated the lives of serf, noble, and clergy alike. Granting her subjects their loyalties, treacheries, and guilty passions, Tuchman re-creates the lives of proud cardinals, university scholars, grocers and clerks, saints and mystics, lawyers and mercenaries, and, dominating all, the knight—in all his valor and “furious follies,” a “terrible worm in an iron cocoon.”
Praise for A Distant Mirror
“Beautifully written, careful and thorough in its scholarship . . . What Ms. Tuchman does superbly is to tell how it was. . . . No one has ever done this better.”—The New York Review of Books
“A beautiful, extraordinary book . . . Tuchman at the top of her powers . . . She has done nothing finer.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Wise, witty, and wonderful . . . a great book, in a great historical tradition.”—Commentary

NOTE: This edition does not include color images.
The New York Times Book Review • The Economist • The Christian Science Monitor • Bloomberg Businessweek • The Globe and Mail

From the bestselling and award-winning author of Paris 1919 comes a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, a fascinating portrait of Europe from 1900 up to the outbreak of World War I.
The century since the end of the Napoleonic wars had been the most peaceful era Europe had known since the fall of the Roman Empire. In the first years of the twentieth century, Europe believed it was marching to a golden, happy, and prosperous future. But instead, complex personalities and rivalries, colonialism and ethnic nationalisms, and shifting alliances helped to bring about the failure of the long peace and the outbreak of a war that transformed Europe and the world.
The War That Ended Peace brings vividly to life the military leaders, politicians, diplomats, bankers, and the extended, interrelated family of crowned heads across Europe who failed to stop the descent into war: in Germany, the mercurial Kaiser Wilhelm II and the chief of the German general staff, Von Moltke the Younger; in Austria-Hungary, Emperor Franz Joseph, a man who tried, through sheer hard work, to stave off the coming chaos in his empire; in Russia, Tsar Nicholas II and his wife; in Britain, King Edward VII, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, and British admiral Jacky Fisher, the fierce advocate of naval reform who entered into the arms race with Germany that pushed the continent toward confrontation on land and sea.
There are the would-be peacemakers as well, among them prophets of the horrors of future wars whose warnings went unheeded: Alfred Nobel, who donated his fortune to the cause of international understanding, and Bertha von Suttner, a writer and activist who was the first woman awarded Nobel’s new Peace Prize. Here too we meet the urbane and cosmopolitan Count Harry Kessler, who noticed many of the early signs that something was stirring in Europe; the young Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty and a rising figure in British politics; Madame Caillaux, who shot a man who might have been a force for peace; and more. With indelible portraits, MacMillan shows how the fateful decisions of a few powerful people changed the course of history.
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Praise for The War That Ended Peace
“Magnificent . . . The War That Ended Peace will certainly rank among the best books of the centennial crop.”—The Economist
“Superb.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Masterly . . . marvelous . . . Those looking to understand why World War I happened will have a hard time finding a better place to start.”—The Christian Science Monitor
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“A magisterial 600-page panorama.”—Christopher Clark, London Review of Books
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