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In the Service of the Reich

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In the Service of the Reich is Walter Görlitz's edited translation of German Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel's memoir. It was written during the Nuremberg Trials in captivity. This memoir gave me an in-depth look into the top echelons of German leadership during WW2, though most importantly, it was taken from the perspective of a non-Nazi member. Throughout his career, Keitel fought the impossible battle to keep the military an independent from the Nazi Party, and even though he had often disagreed with Adolf Hitler, he continued to be trusted and valued by Hitler. Through this book, his deep belief in the German military tradition was really made clear. One such concept that came forth was the honor in loyalty through the chain of command, illustrated by a policy drawn up by Hitler to execute all Allied paratroops caught in German territory without question; even though Keitel sternly argued it was against laws of the Geneva Convention, because Hitler would not budge, Keitel still signed the policy into effect. When questioned for this policy at the Nuremberg Trials, Keitel insisted that it was his duty as a soldier to obey the chain of command, thereby maintaining his soldierly honor through loyalty. Though this type of action left doubt in me in terms of Keitel's capacity in ethics (if he knew something was against international law, did his obedience really outweigh his sense of right and wrong?), this memoir was still a most valuable insight into Keitel's mindset and the mindset of the German military tradition overall.

The translator and editor Walter Görlitz had also made several contributions to the memoir. He added his analysis of Keitel at the end of the book; the analysis was perceptive and very well researched, though I personally find certain passages rather dry. One complaint I had with the editor was his practice to omit passages that were personal to Keitel in nature and somewhat irrelevant to the war. While I understood that these passages strayed from his focus on publishing the memoir as a representation of Keitel the soldier, as a reader I was also interested in Keitel as a whole person; understanding the civilian part of his life would undoubtedly cast new light in understanding him as the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. DeJon says:
15 Jan 2008 06:50:01 AM

You are very right
2. Ryszard Mirski says:
15 Mar 2009 01:30:05 AM

It is not mentioned the book: Der Zweite Weltkrieg 1939-1945, written by Walter Gorlitz Copyright 1951 by Steingruben-Verlag Stuttgard.
Very interesting view of those times.
3. sk07 says:
6 Jul 2009 12:55:55 AM

wilhelm keitel is my great great uncle. and i happen to know for a fact that he was a nazi for some time and beleived in the nazi ways very well. he was also killed for it and tried to denye any power of his actions.

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