I Served With Hitler in the Trenches (Hardback)
In the Field, 1914–1918
This remarkable book details the shared experiences of Hans von Mend and his comrade in arms, Adolf Hitler, throughout almost the whole of the First World War. Mend writes of his call-up as a reservist in July 1914 and of joining the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, more commonly known as List Regiment after its commander Colonel List. It was then that he first met the 25-year-old Hitler.
Together, they marched out to the front, and to Flanders, where the regiment was involved in the struggle for Wytschaete, where few men survived unscathed. Hitler was one of those, being promoted to lance-corporal and assigned to the position of regimental runner.
Over the course of the following years, the regiment participated in the battles of the Somme and Fromelles in 1916, and Arras and Passchendaele in 1917. At Fromelles the messengers had to navigate along a particularly dangerous path, which, according to Mend, Hitler ‘passed many times daily and, if he wanted to come through safely, had to more crawl than march. The slightest movement did not elude the English sharp shooters.’ Mend states the Hitler’s personal courage ‘was acknowledged by those around him’.
Mend wrote of Hitler’s conversations during quieter periods in the trenches, of how the future Führer spoke of his favourite topics, including art and painting. Mend claims that he ‘listened to him willingly and was amazed how he knew about this field … He could explain, like a professor, about German history of art.’ But, intriguingly, according to Mend, Hitler’s political views, which he was never shy in expounding, made enemies of some of his fellow soldiers.
Perhaps inevitably, Hitler was wounded – in his left thigh – and he was decorated with the Iron Cross Second Class, as well as, unusually for a lowly corporal, the Iron Cross First Class. The latter award was for stumbling into a French-held trench while delivering one of his messengers. Reacting quickly, he pointed his rifle at the French soldiers and ordered them to surrender; Hitler delivered twelve prisoners to his commanding officer.
Though I Served With Hitler in the Trenches was written in a certain era, it provides much detail about the personal nature and actions of Adolf Hitler. In some ways it is perhaps more insightful than many of the accounts that were to follow when the man who became the German Chancellor was known to the world and a new image of him had been formed.
After being seriously wounded in the 1939 Polish campaign, Rochus Misch was invited to join Hitler's SS-bodyguard. There he served until the war's end as Hitler’s bodyguard, courier, orderly and finally as Chief of Communications. On the Berghoff terrace he watched Eva Braun organize parties; observed Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer; and monitored telephone conversations from Berlin to the East Prussian Headquarters on 20 July 1944 after the attempt on Hitler's life. Towards the end Misch was drawn into the Fuhrerbunker with the last of the faithful. As defeat approached, he remained in charge…By Rochus Misch
Click here to buy both titles for £28.00