Hitler's Generals in America: Nazi POWs and Allied Military Intelligence
Americans are familiar with prisoner of war narratives that detail Allied soldiers’ treatment at the hands of Germans in World War II: popular books and movies like The Great Escape and Stalag 17 have offered graphic and award-winning depictions of the American POW experience in Nazi camps. Less is known, however, about the Germans captured and held in captivity on U.S. soil during the war.
In Hitler’s Generals in America, Derek R. Mallett examines the evolution of the relationship between American officials and the Wehrmacht general officers they held as prisoners of war in the United States between 1943 and 1946. During the early years of the war, British officers spied on the German officers in their custody, housing them in elegant estates separate from enlisted soldiers, providing them with servants and cooks, and sometimes becoming their confidants in order to obtain intelligence. The Americans, on the other hand, lacked the class awareness shared by British and German officers. They ignored their German general officer prisoners, refusing them any special treatment.
By the end of the war, however, the United States had begun to envision itself as a world power rather than one of several allies providing aid during wartime. Mallett demonstrates how a growing admiration for the German officers’ prowess and military traditions, coupled with postwar anxiety about Soviet intentions, drove Washington to collaborate with many Wehrmacht general officers. Drawing on newly available sources, this intriguing book vividly demonstrates how Americans undertook the complex process of reconceptualizing Germans—even Nazi generals—as allies against what they perceived as their new enemy, the Soviet Union.
Derek R. Mallett is a World War II historian at the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command.
Hitler's Generals in America will frame and inform American discourses about German 'Nazi' generals imprisoned in American camps for some time to come and also breathe new life into the field of WW II POW scholarship. Mallet utilizes exciting new source materials from the transcripts of secretly taped and very candid conversations between these general officers. The result is a thrilling new treatment of the 'captive mind.' -- Günter Bischof, Marshall Plan Professor of History and Director of CenterAustria at the University of New Orleans
"Derek R. Mallett carefully compares the British, who were vitally interested in and committed to gathering useful, possibly actionable intelligence from captured German general officers, to the Americans, who cared less about the German generals in their care until the intelligence community realized in 1944 that the Cold War was about to begin. Mallett does a wonderful job: the research combines excellent primary and secondary sources, archival sources, government documents, interviews, and thorough analysis. This work’s scope, including the major events that shifted World War II’s battlefields and prison camps, is stunning in its breadth and clarity."--Robert C. Doyle, author of The Enemy in Our Hands: America's Treatment of Prisoners of War from the Revolution to the War on Terror
"Mallett's provocative analysis, based on recent revelations concerning the American military's half-hearted interrogations, electronic eavesdropping, and attempts at 'reeducation' of Hitler's generals held as POWs in America, makes for intriguing reading. So too does his caustic evaluation of the U.S. government's belated postwar enthusiasm for using some of those generals in its early Cold War security planning."--Robert D. Billinger Jr., author of Nazi POWs in the Tar Heel State
Mallett's approach is methodical and yet entertaining, interspersing solid analysis with just the right mix of anecdotal examples to back up his main points
[...] this is an interesting study that raises a lot of good points [...] a good entry point to the subject of high‐ranking prisoners
in World War II -- Paul Springer -- H-War
[. . .] By telling the remarkable story of high ranking German military officers and their treatment by their American captors this book fills a gap in the field of World War II POW scholarship.
Mallett makes good use of an array of primary and secondary sources, providing rich details about the “general officer prisoners who seemed to most capture the interest of American authorities”, their American captors, including camp commanders and interrogators and their seemingly impossible efforts to gauge the prisoners’ political and ideological commitment to National Socialism. -- Journal of Military History