An Honorable German by Charles McCain

germanReviewed by Cy Hilterman

I have read many books about various wars. WWII has always been my favorite war to read about and study since I was seven-years old when it started. That day, December 7, 1941 will never be forgotten by me. I know where I was and what my family was doing there. However, I have never read a book that so vividly took me into the heart of Germany and into the shoes of a German military member as he served his nation.

“An Honorable German” begins in 1939 in the south Atlantic on board the huge German battleship Admiral Graf Spee. This ship was one of the fiercest weapons of the day and thought almost unsinkable when WWII began. Max Brekendorf is an Oberleutant assigned to the Graf Spee, having a very responsible job as one of the leading officers on the ship. The mission of the Graf Spee was to find any enemy ship, which at that time of the war were mostly British built, either war ships or freighters. As long as they were British built and did not fly a flag of a neutral nation, they were attacked and sunk with much success.

The descriptions that the author used and his wording of the same were beyond imagination. You were there on the ship in the shoes of each sailor and each survivor of any ship sunk. You also understood the camaraderie between officers and non-commissioned officers and there respect for each other in most cases. Some officers, such as Max, treated his men humanly and did not think of them as slaves as many officers did.

Max’s war is told from before he joined the navy, his beginnings learning the ropes, his advancement to an officer, and his progression through ranks to his own ship. From his work on small ships, to his officer status on the Graf Spee, to various ships after the Graf Spee had been sunk, to commanding a submarine, all is told about Max, his military career, and his love life. You will join him in good as well as bad situations, in times of happiness and times of sadness in personal and military life.

You will learn much about the Germany run by Adolph Hitler and his officers. The German people had to show nothing but respect for Hitler or they would be arrested or shot on the spot. I will never understand how the people of most German cities existed through all the bombing missions that wrecked those cities and caused utter destruction. The fires caused by the incendiaries wiped out what the original bombs had left-mostly in tiny pieces. I can only imagine how difficult it was to gather all the history needed to write this book, especially the way Charles McCain has written it in such a very interesting way.

I eagerly await another book about this war or any other part of history that the author might study and pass on to fortunate readers. I highly recommend this book unless you have no interest about true war and the turmoil they create with individuals and families.


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