Book Review – Friedrich Reiner Nieman, Feldpost [Denis Havel (Ed.)] (Stroud, Gloucestershire: Fonthill, 2016)

Feldpost is a collection of letters from Friedrich Reiner Niemann who served with the 58th Infantry Regiment that was part of the German 6th Infantry Division during the Second World War.[1] The correspondence covers his life and front line experiences on the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1945. Niemann came from a well to do middle-class family living in Cologne where his parents were artists.[2] Born in 1922, Neiman himself was training to be an architect with Dominikus Bohm when the war broke out.[3] In his letters, he describes his various actions around Rzhev during 1942 and 1943 and his miraculous retreat and survival during the Soviet summer offensive Operation Bagration that destroyed Army Group Centre in June 1944.[4] During his service, he was wounded three times and the book is organised into his four individual episodes of service in the frontline. He wrote his final two letters home from Poland on 12 January 1945 before he disappeared during the Soviet Vistula Offensive.

6th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht) logo

After the war, the Niemann family preserved Reiner’s letters and photographs and shipped them to New Orleans when Reiner’s sister, Liselotte Andersson, had emigrated. This correspondence remained neglected in an attic for over fifty years and the documents surfaced only after Hurricane Katrina flooded the family house. Andersson’s daughter-in-law, author Whitney Stewart, discovered the letters in 2012 and contacted academic Denis Havel to translate them. The letters are unusual in that they have no mention of politics or the ‘justice’ of the war, either for or against.[5] The other thing that is absent is any mention of the war crimes, either those committed by the Wehrmacht or the Red Army. These letters are an important addition to the growing number of personal accounts by German soldiers and make give the perspective of a NCO and the challenges of leading a squad.



[1] Friedrich Reiner Nieman, Feldpost [Denis Havel (Ed.)] (Stroud, Gloucs: Fonthill, 2016), p.40.

[2] Ibid., p.19.

[3] Ibid., p.24.

[4] Ibid., pp.124-130.

[5] Ibid., p.13.