Fighting for the Fatherland

“One French Major who saw his battalion running away stood up on the bank of a trench and shot himself.”

This quote was taken from Fighting for the Fatherland 1914, a compelling book that relates the exciting and cruel experiences of the German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers at the beginning of the “war to end all wars”.

The German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers’ moving stories and opinions about their lives and the clashes on the western and eastern fronts, are told through a series of letters from the battlefield, newspaper reporting, and observation; there are descriptions of the fighting at Verdun, of the massive artillery gun known as “Big Bertha”, of the submarine war, of the air war.

Their words tell of fearless derring-do actions, of luck, self-sacrifice and humanity, and in contrast to WWII Nazi or Allied war reporting in Germany, they describe the bravery of enemy combatants, too.

With humanity and humour, the accounts show that the Germans and Austrians, too, believed that the day would be won swiftly with a shout of “Hurrah!” and a glorious cavalry charge.

It was confidence that was echoed in the words of one American journalist who reported: “We were sitting in a cafe one evening (in Ostend, Belgium) talking to the (German) officers. They told us that they would be in London in four weeks.

And, of course, there is sadness as this quote shows; “They brought up a friend of mine, a young lieutenant, his chest brown with dried blood, his pistol still in his hand.” Heroism was not always emblazoned in the headlines. 

Now this rare book is available to English readers for the first time. It is a unique historical record of how the First World War looked from “the other side” of the trenches. 



Additional information


Michael A. O'Neill


Otto Promber


E-book, Paperback




BfP Books

Year Published



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