The trouble with "The Black March" or "SS" as was it's original title years ago, is that no one seems to know just Who Peter Neumann Was. The book(and I devoured it many years ago), is excellently written and obviously by someone who knew what he was talking about. But veterans of the Wikings that have been questioned have no clue as to who he was either. When asked of the publisher, they insist that Neumann Was real and that his family authorized this book by and about him. Personally, I believe that he Was, as the detailing in the book is too exact, but who knows? The only problem that I ever had with the book was the strangely abrupt ending. It is difficult to believe how this book could have been written by an SS officer that was taken prisoner and wounded(Did they Take wounded SS Officers prisoner, I wonder? Especially one that had just sprayed a platoon of Red Army soldiers with bullets) and yet somehow he is said to have returned from captivity years later and written this amazing book. In any case, it's an excellent read by Someone who sounds like they Knew. Definitely a great read!
P.S....If it Was a work of fiction by a ghost writer, I'd sure like to know who he Was and whatever books he's written besides. He was a hell of a writer! You would think, after over a half a century, that the true author-if it Was- would have been long ago revealed, but no such luck..
"Much that once was, is lost. For none now live who remember it."
Many thanks for your fine post Wagriff. I did read the same criticism you state in your post some time ago. When there are no pics in the book of the author one may wonder of the books authenticity. I purchased this book back in 71 in paperback and was astounded at its content. that is why I recommended it to War Relics Forum members. just wish I could get a poster blow-up of the cover. Believe it was a painting by J. Bama. I have read Forgotten Soldier also and was simply blown away by his accounts although I have also read of its authenticity. Simply incredible someone could have gone through this kind of hell. Will keep members informed of any outstanding reads and again thanks for your post
I'm a bit late coming to this thread, but Wagriff's comments, which are right on the mark, prompted me to add my two cents to the discussion. Some readers of Peter Neumann's The Black March, question whether or not the book is non-fiction or fiction. Others wonder if it might have been written by a ghost writer. I have read the book twice; the first time in 1960 and again a week ago. I came away from the first reading thinking it was an interesting and accurate description of the Waffen-SS from an officer's viewpoint. But not so after the second reading a week ago. I found what some might call nit-picky errors but they are errors that should not have been in a manuscript written by a German. For example, on p.21 of my Bantam edition Neumann writes that after completing his Abitur he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree. But the Arbitur is the final exam at a Gymnasium, the rough equivalent of a US high school, whereas a Bachelor of Arts degree is a lower division University degree in Europe as well as the US.
On page 27 the Gestapo arrest his father and send him to a concentration camp for disloyal, probably communist, activities some years earlier. Later in the book, Neumann falls in love with a Jewish girl, Brigitta, a romance that endures throughout the war. He even visits her in Munich in May 1943 at her home (pp. 218-22). There are other similar examples of what one might call aberrational behavior for a devout Nazi and a member of the Waffen-SS throughout the book, all of which cause me to question whether or not an SS officer would have done such things and retained his rank.
Throughout the book I found frequent examples of writing that seemed to fulfill the wartime propaganda expectation of the inhuman, brutal SS juxtaposed with Neumann's basic humanity. The combination occurs so frequently that I now wonder if the book was written to be a postwar propaganda work designed to perpetuate the total brutality and inhumanity image of the SS. If so, it is well done. On the other hand, it might have been constructed that way to illustrate that there is no absolute evil in an organization, but that the evil is temporized by the likes of Peter Neumann.
To some degree, my take on the book as postwar propaganda stemmed from the fact that the book was first published in France by the Paris publisher, France-Empire in 1956, under the title SS. The publishers said that Peter Neumann's family, from whom they received the journal, specifically wanted the work kept intact, exactly as he wrote it during the war, and the publisher did not revise or alter it. Maybe. But why did the family give the journal to a French, rather than a German, publisher? German publishers were publishing wartime memoirs as early as 1949, and in even greater numbers in the early 1950's. I have several of those early postwar books on my shelf.
Fact or fiction, the book has proved to be enduringly popular as evidenced by its publishing history. The British publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, published the first English language edition in 1958 as Other Men's Graves: Diary of an SS Man, followed by the US publisher, William Sloane Associates in 1959 titled, The Black March: The Personal Story of an SS Man. The 1960 and 1967 Bantam paperback editions, The Black March, seem to be the last editions printed. Dwight
Last edited by drmessimer; 12-10-2012 at 05:11 PM.
Im going to have to read that one Mauser. Thanks for the heads up. Got it on my Ebay saved searches.
Thanks for recent replies guys. I read this book a couple of times myself. In fact I sent for it back in 71 I think. Rates right up there with Forgotten Soldier and Hells Gate but unfortunately it is possible is not authentic. Man that can disappoint. Well anyway will report on future reads. Ordered some for Christmas. Happy Holidays