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The Undercover Nazi Hunter

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RRP: £25.00
The Undercover Nazi Hunter – Exposing Subterfuge and Unmasking Evil in Post-War Germany by Wolfe Frank, Edited by Paul Hooley.

Wolfe Frank was Chief Interpreter at the Nuremberg Trials where he was dubbed ‘The Voice of Doom’. A playboy turned resistance worker he had fled Germany for England in 1937 having been branded an ‘enemy of the state – to be shot on sight’. Initially interned as an ‘enemy alien’, he was later released and allowed to join the British Army – where he rose to the rank of Captain. Unable to speak English when he arrived in England, by the time of the trials he was considered to be the finest interpreter in the world.

In the months following his service at ‘history’s greatest trials’, Frank became increasingly alarmed at the misinformation coming out of Germany, so in 1949 backed by the New York Herald Tribune he risked his life again by returning to the country of his birth to make an ‘undercover’ survey of the main facets of post-war German life and viewpoints. During this enterprise he worked as a German alongside Germans in factories,
 on the docks, in a refugee camp and elsewhere. Equipped with false papers he sought objective answers to many questions including: the refugee crisis; anti-Semitism; morality, de-Nazification; religion; and nationalism.

The result was an acclaimed series of articles that appeared under the generic title of ‘Hangover After Hitler’. The NYHT said at the time: ‘A fresh 
appraisal of the German question could only 
be obtained by a German and Mr Frank had 
all the exceptional qualifications necessary. We believe the result of his “undercover” work 
told in human, factual terms, is an important contribution to one of the great key problems of the post-war world – and incidentally it contains some unexpected revelations and dramatic surprises’. The greatest of those surprises was Frank single handedly tracking down and arresting Waldemar Wappenhans ranked 4th on the Allies ‘wanted’ list and taking and transcribing the Confession of the Nazi who Himmler had decided would be Head of SS in Great Britain if Germany won the war.

Leaving aside the undeniable atrocities of the Nazi regime, the Confession, and Frank’s assessment of Wappenhans shows him to have been a brave, often honourable, warrior who devoted his life to serving his country with the highest distinction – on land and in the air – throughout some of the greatest battles of both world wars.

The Undercover Nazi Hunter not only reproduces Frank’s published series of articles (as he wrote them) and a translation of the full confession – a hugely important historical document which, until now, has never been seen in the public domain – it also reveals the fascinating behind- the-scenes story of a great American newspaper agonizing over how best to deal with this unique opportunity and these important exposés.

Also available: Nuremberg’s Voice of Doom

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Nuremberg’s Voice of Doom – The Autobiography of the Chief Interpreter at History’s Greatest Trials

The memoirs of Wolfe Frank, which lay hidden in an attic for twenty-five years, are a unique and highly moving behind-the-scenes account of all that happened at Nuremberg – ‘the greatest trial in history’ – as seen through the eyes of a witness to the entire proceedings. They include important historical information never previously revealed. In an extraordinarily explicit life story, Frank includes his personal encounters, inside and outside the courtroom, with Goering, Ribbentrop, Keitel, Ley, Speer, Hess, et al. This book therefore is a unique record that adds substantially to what is already publicly known about the trials and the defendants.

Involved in proceedings from day one and used more than any other interpreter, Frank translated the first piece of evidence and concluded the trials by announcing the sentences to the defendants (and several hundred million radio listeners). This earned him the soubriquet ‘Voice of Doom’.

As an interrogator, he drew many confessions out of the war criminals including Otto Ohlendorf’s admission to ‘humanely’ killing 90,000 Jews with his mobile gas chambers.

Prior to the war, Frank, a man of Jewish descent, was a Bavarian playboy who, for over three years, managed to avoid giving the Nazi salute, even on the many occasions he was in Hitler’s presence. He was also an engineer, a resistance worker, a smuggler (of money and Jews out of Germany) and he was declared to be ‘an enemy of the State to be shot on sight’. Having escaped to Britain and been interned at the outbreak of war he successfully campaigned for his release and to be allowed to enlist in the British Army – in which he rose to the rank of Captain. Unable to speak English prior to his arrival, by the time of the Nuremberg trials he was described as being the ‘finest interpreter in the world’.

A unique character of extreme contrasts Frank was a maverick, a sybarite, a womaniser, a risk taker and an opportunist. He was also a highly intelligent man of immense courage, charm, good manners, integrity and ability. He undertook the toughest assignment imaginable at Nuremberg and he played a major role in ‘materially shortening the enormously difficult procedures by an estimated three years’.

Nuremberg’s Voice of Doom is a story of two interwoven themes: one of love, adventure and excitement; the other of a former German citizen’s fight for the right to become a British soldier and his extraordinary commitment to service, duty and justice. Whilst this book is therefore an important military record that will appeal to those interested in the history of World War II and the rise and fall of the Nazi Party, as well as being a definitive account of all that happened at Nuremberg, it is also an enthralling human-interest story that will intrigue and fascinate a much wider audience.

History of Terror: Zulu Terror

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RRP: £12.99
Zulu Terror – The Mfecane Holocaust, 1815–1840 by Robin Binckes.

When the wagons of the Voortrekkers – the Boers, those hardy descendants of the Dutch – moved into the southern African interior in 1836, on the Great Trek, their epic journey to escape British control at the Cape, the wheels of their wagons crunched over carpets of skeletons of those slain in the Mfecane.

The years 1815 to 1840 were probably the most devastating and violent period of South Africa’s turbulent history. The Mfecane (Zulu) or Difaqane (Sotho) was a result of many factors including internecine conflict among the Zulu tribes themselves. Faced with the wrath of the great King Shaka, Mzilikazi (The Road) fled with his followers, who became the Matabele, cutting a swathe of destruction, pillage and genocide across southern Africa from the land of the Zulu (KwaZulu-Natal today) to the Highveld in the north.

New alliances and allegiances were forged as refugees fled from the path of the rampaging Mzilikazi, leading to the creation of new nations and alliances between the arriving Voortrekkers and the enemies of the Matabele. Finally defeated in 1836 by the Voortrekkers in a nine-day battle, Mzilikazi crossed the Limpopo River and founded the kingdom of the Matabele in what is now Zimbabwe.

Barnsley at War 1939–45

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RRP: £14.99
Barnsley at War 1939–45 by Mark Green.

The ‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’ of 1918 was supposed to be the conclusion of the ‘war to end all wars’.

Just twenty-one years after the armistice was signed, Barnsley, its borough and the world braced itself for a global conflict that history would eventually testify to be deadlier than the war that destroyed a generation of Barnsley men and boys.

After the Great War, the famous market town stumbled into a new era that promised social change, including universal suffrage, economic and political stability and establishments of new international organisations such as the League of Nations to steer the masses. In reality, the town suffered in poverty, endured pit disasters, countless industrial deaths all the while still lamenting its lost generation, mercilessly butchered on The Somme.

The books narrative explains in detail Barnsley’s transition from its interwar years, to the euphoria of victory in 1945, supported by a timeline of national events that helped shape the town. It steers away from the common two-dimensional viewpoints some people had on the Home Front and the endless reusing of the same themes – ‘the Great British spirit’, Churchillian greatness, D-Day, Dunkirk and VE day. Although one cannot dismiss those remarkable qualities the town developed during the war, it also explores controversial topics such as social impacts, the rise in juvenile delinquency, misplaced optimism, increase in crime and the acceptance of the status quo by some members of the ruling council.

Indeed, Barnsley rose to the challenge as it did years earlier, women once again revealed their rightful place in society as equals, miners smashed productivity records, men and women took up arms in anticipation of invasion.

The Second World War had arguably the same impacts on Barnsley as the Great War, further local names etched on the memorials as a timeless reminder of the men, women and children who died or gave their life for their town, county and country. Never to be forgotten.

Also available: Barnsley in the Great War

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Barnsley in the Great War by Geoffrey Howse.

Geoffrey Howse is well known for his books on Yorkshire subjects, including six books in the Foul Deeds & Suspicious Deaths series, two of which cover Barnsley and District and a third which covers South Yorkshire as a whole. In Barnsley in the Great War, he has pulled out the stops and delved deeply into a wide range of diverse events that took place throughout Barnsley during the time when the most horrendous conflict known to man was raging abroad.

As well as including interesting passages about the enormous changes that were taking place concerning the employment of women in roles they had never imagined possible, he has also assembled some fascinating accounts spanning the whole of Barnsley, packed with interesting sometimes mind-blowing facts about this beautiful area and its wonderful people. Within its seven absorbing chapters covering the prelude to the Great War and its aftermath, this book is sure to capture the curiosity of all individuals with an interest in the social history of Barnsley.

28 March 1942: Operation Chariot – the Raid on Saint Nazaire

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RRP: £16.99
Special Operations: The Saint Nazaire Raid, Operation Chariot – The Greatest Raid DVD.

Building on the success of various Commando Raids during 1941, Headquarters Combined Operations moved up the scale of size and complexity by electing to attack and deny the only dry dock that could take a German battleship for repairs, the Normandie Dock at Saint Nazaire on France’s Atlantic coast. The problem was that the port was miles up an estuary that was well defended by the Germans. To deliver an explosive charge big enough to demolish the massive lock gates, an old ship HMS Campbeltown was converted to look like a German destroyer, so as to bluff their way into the heart of the port. With Campbeltown ramming the lock gates the Army Commandos were to fan out across the dock to demolish pumps and winding gear to comprehensively deny the dock to the Kriegsmarine for a significant period of time. Under cover of dark the bluff worked well – up to a point – Campbeltown rammed the gates but the Commandos found that the Germans were alert and had great difficulty in reaching their objectives.

Shot on location in the usual Battlefield History TV style of expert commentary from naval and Commando historians. During shooting the team secured unrivaled access to parts of the harbour and pumping houses that simply can not be seen by normal visitors to Saint Nazaire. These great location shots are complimented by testimony from the surviving veterans, detailed maps, essential for proper understanding of the raid, and some illustrative re-enactment.

The whole film gets under the skin of the Raid in a manner and depth that others have tried; it is altogether an excellent addition to the Special Operations series.

Also available: Try these eBooks for only £1.99 each

A Reluctant Hero Storming St Nazaire Saint-Nazaire Operation Chariot – The Raid on St Nazaire

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