Book Review – Fred A. Simon, A Berliner’s Luck (Xlibris, 2004)

A Berliner’s Luck is the memoir of Fred Simon’s service in the Wehrmacht during the Great War. Simon was born in Berlin in 1922, into a working-class family where his father was a tool and die maker.[1] His family had Jewish routes and emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1927. They returned five years later during the depression [2] and Simon grew up in Germany in the 1930s, starting an apprenticeship at Auer and Company, a ladies wholesale business for women’s clothing.[3] On 1 October 1941, Simon was drafted into the Army.[4] He was then deployed to Russia in April 1942, joining the Staff Company of the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Regiment of the 3rd Panzer Division.[5] He was a machine gunner on a detachment of four 50mm guns and saw action in southern Russia before being injured in August 1942.[6]

Insignia of the 3rd Panzer Division

He was sent back to Germany to recuperate and then put on non-combat duties. However, in April 1945 he was deployed to the Dutch island of Texel to help put down a revolt by Georgian soldiers.[7]


After the war, he emigrated to the USA where he had a family.[8] Simon wrote this account so that his children would ‘know their heritage’, World War 2 and the ‘hard times after the war’.[9] This is an interesting narrative but is very anecdotal in nature and lacks detail. It is probably of limited use to scholars and students of the Second World War.



[1] Fred A. Simon, A Berliner’s Luck (Xlibris, 2004), p.13.

[2] Ibid., pp.29-30.

[3] Ibid., p.41.

[4] Ibid., p.48.

[5] Ibid., p.53.

[6] Ibid., pp.66-67.

[7] Ibid., pp.97-101.

[8] Ibid., p.147.

[9] Ibid., p.7.