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Germans crazy about UK WWII manual

Bestselling ‘Instructions for British Servicemen’ warns against sentimentality during occupation, says ‘Germans have a streak of hysteria’

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

British soldiers in line for tea at NAFFI Mobile Canteen No. 750 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, 16 July, 1945 (photo credit: Imperial War Museum)
British soldiers in line for tea at NAFFI Mobile Canteen No. 750 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, 16 July, 1945 (photo credit: Imperial War Museum)

A 1944 British manual, instructing soldiers on how to behave once they occupy Germany, has surprisingly become one of the top-selling books in Germany.

“The Germans are not good at controlling their feelings. They have a streak of hysteria,” says the manual, which is titled “Instructions for British Servicemen in Germany.”

“You will find that Germans may often fly into a passion if some little thing goes wrong.”

According to the Daily Mail, “Instructions” has risen to fourth place on the German best-seller list. After it was re-released in English, German publisher Helge Malchow picked up the work.

German women are not to be trusted, British soldiers were warned, but they make excellent sausages and beer. “Don’t be too ready to listen to stories told by attractive women. They may be acting under orders.”

The manual, distributed by the Ministry of War, says that Germans are “big, fleshy, fair-haired men and women, especially in the north.”

Demeanor and appearance are emphasized in the book. Soldiers are instructed to give orders in a “firm, military manner” as the German civilian is “used to it and expects it… It is important that you should be smart and soldierly in appearance and behaviour. The Germans think nothing of a slovenly soldier.”

The manual instructs soldiers not to feel sorry for Germans, emphasizing that “there will be no brutality about a British occupation, but neither will there be softness or sentimentality.”

British soldiers were told that “there are signs that the German leaders are already making plans for a third World War. That must be prevented at all costs.”

“Hitler’s aim was to terrorise the German people so that no one would dare resist him by deed or word.

“Woven into Hitler’s doctrine are many deep-seated German ‘complexes’, such as hatred of the Jews, a desire to domineer over others and a readiness to believe that they themselves are being persecuted.”

German coffee is good, said the manual, but soldiers were told to go easy on local spirits. “Whiskey and gin will be scarce and of poor quality but there are many kinds of spirits called Schnaps. The cheaper sorts are guaranteed to take the skin off one’s throat. Go easy on Schnaps.”

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