This work traces and analyses the evolution of the German fighting man and the army in which he served during three and a half centuries. It sets his patriotism against his cultural background and against the ever-changing national imperatives of the time. His cultural legacy encompassed the romanticised Teutonic legends of Germanic mythology and of the mighty Rhine. There were also the more immediate and pragmatic imperatives of national survival in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which reinforced Germany's emerging awareness of its national identity, precipitating the heady brew of spectacular military victories and imperialist aspirations which dominated the following century. But then came the pervasive and misplaced - but irresistibly attractive in post-Versailles 1930s Germany - lure of National Socialism: a perverse path, which subsequently resulted in the divided and Allied-occupied German state of 1945, after a conflict which proved to be both the zenith and the nadir of his military fortunes. Finally, yet another culture with its very different social and wider priorities today underwrites the new post-Cold War Bundeswehr of reunified Germany.
This new work by a former soldier seeks out and analyses the true nature of the German soldier: his motivation, his preparation for war, his conduct in battle, and all those aspects of his training, organisation, leadership, and lifestyle which may indicate why these fighters 'fur Gott und Vaterland' have consistently proved to be so formidable, and why they have had such a pronounced impact upon European and world history during the last 350 years.
David Stone is a former British army infantry officer. Much of his service was in Germany, both with and alongside soldiers of the Bundeswehr in peacetime and on operations. He became a military historian in 2002, and is the author of the authoritative works Hitler's Army: The Men, Machines and Organisation, 1939-1945 (2009) and Fighting for the Fatherland: The Story of the German Soldier from 1648 to the Present Day (2006). Richard Holmes described the latter as 'the most comprehensive and accessible account of the German soldier ever published in English.' His other titles include the acclaimed 'First Reich' (2002), Battles in Focus: Dien Bien Phu (2004), Wars of the Cold War (2004) and War Summits (2005). He also wrote Cold War Warriors (1998) and was a consultant and co-author of World War II Chronicle (2007).