Military history


This book is based principally on the captured German documents, the interrogations and testimony of German military officers and civilian officials, the diaries and memoirs which some of them have left, and on my own experience in the Third Reich.

Millions of words from the German archives have been published in various series of volumes, and millions more have been collected or microfilmed and deposited in libraries—in this country chiefly the Library of Congress and the Hoover Library at Stanford University—and in the National Archives at Washington. In addition, the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, at Washington is in possession of a vast collection of German military records.

Of the published volumes of documents the most useful for my purposes have been three series. The first is Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series D, comprising a large selection in English translation of the papers of the German Foreign Office from 1937 to the summer of 1940. Through the courtesy of the State Department I have been given access to a number of additional German Foreign Office papers, not yet translated or published, which deal primarily with Germany’s declaration of war on the United States.

Two series of published documents dealing with the main Nuremberg trial have been invaluable in taking one behind the scenes in the Third Reich. The first is the forty-two-volume Trial of the Major War Criminals, of which the first twenty-three volumes contain the text of the testimony at the trial and the remainder the text of the documents accepted in evidence, which are published in their original language, mostly German. Additional documents, interrogations and affidavits collected for that trial and translated rather hurriedly into English are published in the ten-volume series Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Unfortunately, the extremely valuable testimony given before the commissioners of the International Military Tribunal is mostly omitted from the latter series and is available only in mimeographed form on deposit with a few leading libraries.

There were twelve subsequent trials at Nuremberg, conducted by United States military tribunals, but the fifteen bulky published volumes of testimony and documents presented at these trials, titled Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, contain less than one tenth of the material. However, the rest may be found in mimeograph or photostats in some libraries. Summaries of other trials which shed much light on the Third Reich may be found in Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, published by His Majesty’s Stationery Office in London, 1947–49.

Of the unpublished German documents other than the rich collections in the Hoover Library, the Library of Congress and the National Archives—which contain, among other things, the Himmler files and a number of Hitler’s private papers—one of the most valuable finds has been that of the so-called “Alexandria Papers,” a good proportion of which have now been microfilmed and deposited at the National Archives. Information about a number of other captured papers will be found in the notes. Among the unpublished German material, incidentally, is General Halder’s diary—seven volumes of typescript with annotations added by the General after the war to clarify certain passages—which I found to be one of the most valuable records of the Third Reich.

Some of the books which have been helpful to me are listed below. They are of three types: first, the memoirs and diaries of some of the leading figures in this narrative; second, books based on the new documentary material, such as those of John W. Wheeler-Bennett, Alan Bullock, H. R. Trevor-Roper and Gerald Reitlinger in England, of Telford Taylor in America, and of Eberhard Zeller, Gerhard Ritter, Rudolf Pechel and Walter Goerlitz in Germany; and third, books which provide background.

A comprehensive bibliography of works on the Third Reich has been published in Munich as a special number of the Vierteljahrshefte fuer Zeitgeschichte under the auspices of the Institut fuer Zeitgeschichte. The catalogues of the Wiener Library in London also contain excellent bibliographies.

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