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Unseen Pictures: American Soldiers In Second World War


In some regards training Americans for the military was probably more difficult than already regimented Germans having gone through the Hitler Youth. Americans are individualistic and don't like following orders, characteristics that do not work well in the military. In addition, the Americans had to be taught skills that German soldiers had learned as boy in the Hitler Youth. Even so, American training programs were able to turn out competent soldiers in a matter of months so any German advantage was probably only minor.

One interesting look at American soldiers is available from a French, Alsatian boy, who had seen the French Army defeated, the Wehrmacht at its peak, Russian and other POWs, and finally the American Army. He writes after liberation in February 1945, "We were disenchanted with the Americans. They seemed to behave like well-fed babies, chewing gum, and didn't seem to care whether they were in France or Germany. Our celebrations and enthusiasms left them cold. In my eyes they didn't act like soldiers--they didn't seem to care very much for their equipment, and I never saw them drill. They would throw chewing gum and chocolates on the ground and watch us scramble to get a morsel. To me they were like amateurs. They weren't really arrogant, just aloof. To them we were part of a 'zoo of savages'. But impressions do not make history--the Americans fought and many died on our soil, for which we re eternally grateful." [ Ungerer, Tomi. Tomi: A Childhood under the NAZIs (Robert Rinehart Publishing Group: Boulder, 1998]

One is unsure about some of the unmilitary characteristics like individuality were actual advantages in combat because American soldiers were willing to take the initiative in critical situations whereas German soldiers were incapciated and would wait for orders from headquarters.

American soldier in action in a town in Germany. Last months of the war


American soldiers walk on as a British soldiers lies dead

A sad way to end the war for proud men of the Wehrmacht


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