War Diaries Talk

Do German diaries exist?

  • Stork by Stork

    The German units must have kept diaries like the ones we're tagging- are they available to the public or do they even still exist? I'd love to read them, especially if they cover the battles that I've already gotten the British version of. My German is poor, but with a dictionary I could probably stumble through them enough to understand.


  • marie.eklidvirginmedia.com by marie.eklidvirginmedia.com

    I have read many ww1 books. I think the following would be of interest to you and maybe other citizen historians. You capture the 1st world war from the German perspective. I read this book last year and it is a very interesting story by the German Officer Ernst Junger. Well worth reading.

    "Storm of Steel" (in German: In Stahlgewittern, ISBN 0-86527-310-3) is the memoir of German officer Ernst Jünger's experiences on the Western Front during the First World War. It was originally printed privately in 1920, making it one of the first personal accounts to be published. The book is a graphic account of trench warfare. It was largely devoid of editorialization when first published, but was heavily revised several times. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_of_Steel

    Also of interest an Extract from an unpublished diary of a NCO serving in Fusilier-Regiment 73, The Hannovarian Regiment.

    “The following text is an extract from an unpublished diary of a NCO serving in Füsilier-Regiment 73, the Hannovarian Regiment in which ranks Ernst Jünger served. The diary is wonderful as it gives a fascinating insight into the daily routine of a German regiment. I do not have the time to transcribe and translate it all, so I have chosen to publish a section that was written in March and April 1915, when the regiment fought in and around the village of Courcy, near Reims, in France.” Link: https://gottmituns.net/2013/05/09/life-in-the-trenches-diary-of-a-german-soldier-courcy-france-1915/


  • ral104 by ral104 moderator, scientist

    One thing you have to understand is that there wasn't a 'German' army as such during the First World War. There were armies from Prussia, Saxony, Bavaria and Württemberg. Because of that, records are held by various state archives.

    The Prussian Army was the largest and most dominant force and their records were held in Berlin, but many of them were destroyed during the Second World War.

    I think the Bavarian (in Munich) and Württemberg (in Stuttgart) archives hold all sorts of information including reports equivalent to our battalion war diaries. I really don't know anything about the Saxon archives.


  • cyngast by cyngast moderator

    That's interesting. I didn't know that about the German army, or armies, as the case may be.


  • David_Underdown by David_Underdown moderator

    Some do exist, but many were lost in Second World War bombing and fighting. So far as reading them goes, I understand the biggest challenge is the style of handwriting and printing, which still used a much more gothic style of writing (fraktur), which even many Germans today struggle with.