PDA

View Full Version : Question for Celeon (or anyone else familiar with Wolfgang Hirschfeld's books)



VikingGrandad
05-01-2006, 01:20 PM
Celeon - a few weeks ago I finished reading your grandfather's book 'Hirschfeld : The Secret Diary of a U-Boat'. I really enjoyed it - very well written and an amazing story. In the 'Notes' section at end of the book, it mentions two other titles by Herr Hirschfeld:

- 'Das Letze Boot: Atlantik Farewell', which apparently covers the events after the war ended, during his time in US captivity. Do you know if this book is still in print and has it ever been translated into English? I would really like to read it (I did find a used German version on amazon.com for $100!)

- 'Feindfahrten: Das Logbuch eines U-boot Funkers' - this title sounds similar to the English title, but the description says "his voyages aboard U-109 appear in diary form.", which suggests it is more of a word-for-word copy of your grandfather's original diaries, with diary dates etc included. Is this right?

By the way Celeon, when I was searching the web for info on the above books, I found this photo (apparently of your grandfather) which isn't in my copy of the 'The Secret Diary...':

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c188/VikingG/hirschfeld.jpg

You've probably seen it before, but I thought I'd post it just in case.

I thought of some questions to ask you about certain details in 'The Secret Diary...', but I've forgotten what they were now http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

I'll read it again soon and make notes next time...

VikingGrandad
05-01-2006, 01:20 PM
Celeon - a few weeks ago I finished reading your grandfather's book 'Hirschfeld : The Secret Diary of a U-Boat'. I really enjoyed it - very well written and an amazing story. In the 'Notes' section at end of the book, it mentions two other titles by Herr Hirschfeld:

- 'Das Letze Boot: Atlantik Farewell', which apparently covers the events after the war ended, during his time in US captivity. Do you know if this book is still in print and has it ever been translated into English? I would really like to read it (I did find a used German version on amazon.com for $100!)

- 'Feindfahrten: Das Logbuch eines U-boot Funkers' - this title sounds similar to the English title, but the description says "his voyages aboard U-109 appear in diary form.", which suggests it is more of a word-for-word copy of your grandfather's original diaries, with diary dates etc included. Is this right?

By the way Celeon, when I was searching the web for info on the above books, I found this photo (apparently of your grandfather) which isn't in my copy of the 'The Secret Diary...':

http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c188/VikingG/hirschfeld.jpg

You've probably seen it before, but I thought I'd post it just in case.

I thought of some questions to ask you about certain details in 'The Secret Diary...', but I've forgotten what they were now http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/35.gif

I'll read it again soon and make notes next time...

Celeon999
05-01-2006, 02:18 PM
Feindfahrten covers both, his adventures on U-109 , the voyage on U-234 and the following time in the usa. I dont know if "Secret diary" is 1-1 translation of Feindfahrten.


With "Das letzte U-boot" he describes more exactly what it was like in captivity after the war.

He goes more into detail about that time. The good and bad sides, especially the understandable but often strangely opposite attitude of the americans towards him and other captured u-boat men.

Some people were like "i would like to kill all of you damn nazis" and others were like "i have no problem with you".

The u.s navy people were strangely kind to them but everything changed as they reached america. People were spitting on them and screaming nazipigs and nazihuns.

In general he wanted to destroy the myth which is widely spread that all who came into u.s captivity could call themselves lucky.

This wasnt so.

They became the personal slaves of their prison guards (mostly polish immigrants who were selected for that) , were beaten, humiliated , treated like animals.

An big wave of hate was rolling over them from all possible sides.


The german prisoners had no rights at all and were although beeing declared free men, sold like goods to britain or equipped with u.s pow release papers that are nothing worth outside of america and ended once again in british or french captivity as they reached europe.


But there were also other people who treated them fairly and some friendships were made that still exist today.

It was strange.

The polish guards hated the germans, the american guards hated the germans and the polish guards.

Some american guards liked the germans pows and hated the polish guards or liked the polish guards and the germans.

Some hated no one others hated only peticular persons..... unbelievable complex and very confusing.

To make it short : The main message of the book is : When you get into captivity , you are screwed.

All war conventions focusing on POW rights and paragraphs are not more worth than the paper they were written on.

No rights, no rules, they can do with you whatever they please, your fate depends fully on the people that deal with you.

Nothing more and nothing less is the truth.

Kaleun1961
05-02-2006, 11:19 AM
It can take a long time for emotions generated in war to die down, if ever. My family roots go back to Newfoundland sailors in both world wars. My great grandfather served in the Royal Navy in WW1 and my grandfather served in the merchant marine in WW2. I had a great-uncle who twice survived torpedoing by U-boats. Even as an old man, I can recall my grandfather cheering during a war movie on TV as the Germans were attacked, as if he were watching a sports match. Particularly embittered are many of the Allied soldiers who had to endure brutal captivity at the hands of the Japanese. Although much has been made of the "abuse" of P.O.W's at the hands of the Germans, it pales in comparison to what the Japanese did. It seems that Asians in general had a contempt for their White prisoners: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Viet Namese, they all seemed particularly brutal above and beyond what the Germans ever did. Statistics I saw in a History channel documentary prove that the death and/or abuse of American P.O.W's was worse in any war that America fought against Asians: WW2 , Korea and Viet Nam. I can't find any German equivalent to Bataan or the Hanoi Hilton.

My wife's older friend from work back in England married a German who was a P.O.W. who chose to stay in England after the war. I also met a German who runs the armour vehicles at the Muckleborough exhibit in England [this museum of WW2 armour was made famous in the documentary series "Line of Fire" as shown on History channel.] He respected how fairly he was dealt with during captivity and chose to stay in the U.K. after the war. My father in law in the U.K. also remembers German prisoners who worked the land. Some were no doubt mistreated, but overall they were dealt with fairly.

I suppose the experience is as widely varied as there are so many individuals. I have no reason to doubt Celeon's Grampa's version of things. The Luftwaffe fighter pilot, Erich Hartmann, who endured almost 11 years of Soviet captivity said he was dealt with brutally, but over time people's feelings softened and when they could, ordinary Russian people near the camps would occasionally try to slip them some items of food as they marched out to labour.

I think it requires a lot of deep-seated anger to be able to carry animosity for many years. Most people tire of it eventually and soften their hard attitudes. We see this today as some people say to stop bothering old men who may have been war criminals. They are tired of it and just want it to stop, especially when they see how selectively war criminals are prosecuted.

ATTACK_HAMSTER
05-04-2006, 01:32 PM
Ruddy bloody hell http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/agreepost.gif

I have read "The secret diary of a U-boat"

I must say Celeon that it is a truly fantastic read (my favourite naval book) i feel extremely privileged to have been able to read such a compelling account.

I am especially interested in the section in latter half of the book which talks about the secret bomb.

I personally feel that this book is far superior to other u-boat accounts.

If you have not read it go buy it !! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

VikingGrandad
05-07-2006, 08:48 AM
Sorry I missed these replies earlier in the week. I don't get to read the forums daily at the moment.

Thanks for the extra information Celeon, and for your sharing your knowledge K61. Always worth reading http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

I agree with Attack Hamster - it's a superb book. That's why I am now so interested to read 'Das letzte U-boot'. Perhaps one day it will be translated into English (or I will learn German well enough to read it http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif).