Prime Trautmann's Journey: From Hitler Youth to FA Cup Legend (Audio Download): Catrine Clay, Gordon Griffin, Soundings: Audible Audiobooks –

Bert Trautmann is famed as the goalkeeper who broke his neck in an FA Cup final and played on But his early life is no less extraordinary he grew up in Nazi Germany and fought for the Germans in World War Two Inhe was captured and sent to a British POW camp where, for the first time, he saw a better way of life He embraced England as his new home and before long became an England football hero This is his extraordinary story Truly well written, informative, entertaining and so much better than the ktischy German film adaption Bert deserves it. This excellent book not only outlines the complex life of a remarkable individual, it also offers the reader a unique inroad into the tragic realities of life in Germany from 1923 to the end of the Second World War Add to this a detailed discussion of the life of the Prisoner of War in 1940s Britain and you arrive at a book that goes far beyond being an excellent biography of a great sporting hero beloved by supporters of Manchester City and respected throughout the wider community A great read There were two foreign born goalkeepers in the post war English First division, Rolando Ugolini, who had moved from Italy to Scotland when he was three before the war and Bert Trautmann who was brought to England as a prisoner of war aged 22 in 1945 Ugolini, who is still living at the age of 89, played for Middlesbrough while Trautmann who died in July 2013, also aged 89, played for St Helens Town and Manchester City Trautmann was this reviewer s favourite Every aspiring goalkeeper in St Helens wanted to be like Trautmann with his athletic skills and fantastic ability as a shot stopper In school dinner hours we tried to emulate the great man without realising that diving on tarmac was not the same as diving on grass Bert Trautmann ruined my knees.The reviewer is privileged to own a copy of Trautmann s early autobiography From Steppes To Wembley and had a clear picture of what he was like There was an opportunity for Clay to do a hatchet job on a life long hero Instead, she has produced a brilliant biography reflecting complete honesty on her and Trautmann s part In addition to his early home life, dominated by an over bearing father and a submissive mother, Clay traces the development of Trautmann s character as a naturally athletic boy who avoided trouble but responded to bullying with short tempered violent responses characteristic of his stubbornness Constantly bombarded by Nazi propaganda he joined the Hitler Youth which he found an exciting addition to his everyday life In accordance with Hitler s policy of taking the boy and moulding the man Trautmann did not appreciate he was being used for political purposes.Trautmann was given an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic but at seventeen, imbued with ideas of the glory of fighting for the Vaterland and the superiority of the Master Race, he joined the Luftwaffe He failed basic training but remained in the Luftwaffe as a member of Nachrichten Regiment 35 operating on the ground where he was placed in a motorised unit, in charge of vehicle maintenance Still in his teens Trautmann was given to practical jokes one of which resulted in his being found guilty of treason and sentenced to nine months imprisonment, later reduced to three Fortunately, his appendix burst and he was removed to a hospital where the medical staff only released him after his sentence had been served.Clay places Trautmann in the context of Nazi ideology, imbibing what he was told because of Nazi propaganda, scarcely entertaining doubts when reality proved to be different The war shaped him in many ways, not least his experience of being scared stiff when waiting to go into battle or on night sentry duty On the Russian front he secretly witnessed SS guards carrying out the execution of men, women and children, which he never referred to but remained in his memory At Kleve he was buried alive for three days under a bombed school Briefly captured by the Russians he was impressed by their fairness and realised they were as war weary as himself Captured by the Americans he was amazed when they told him to scarper which he did The British kept hold of himTransferred to England German POW s were categorised as A anti Nazis, B non committed and C die hard Nazis Trautmann was placed in the last category, not because of his views, but because of his aggressive attitude When shown films of Nazi atrocities many of the latter group dismissed it as propaganda but Trautmann remembered the SS executions he had witnessed and knew it was fact not fiction Attlee and the Labour government ignored the Geneva Convention and refused to repatriate German prisoners of war as soon as hostilities ceased He insisted they should work to repay some of the expense of rebuilding the country However, they were supplied with food, clothing heating, transport and library facilities and allowed to run camps themselves By 1947 they were being paid for their work.When he started playing football for his POW team Trautmann quickly showed his aggressive streak and was advised to move from centre half into goal While the upper class were parroting Noel Coward s sarcastic Let s Not Be Beastly to the Germans the working class recognised the human side of the POW s which influenced Trautmann s decision to refuse to be repatriated when offered the chance At St Helens Town he felt he was treated with respect which made him feel like a human being again, no so than when he was granted three weeks home leave and the supporters club presented him with a travelling trunk full of food to take back to Germany.Once fraternisation was permitted Trautmann showed his selfishness, impregnating a local girl but running away from the responsibility of marriage Forty years later his daughter traced him and arranged a meeting with the girl he jilted, relieved that she bore no bitterness towards him His marriage to another local girl was disastrous She wasn t fond of Germans and in moments of temper would remind him he was German When their son was killed in a road accident their relationship died He often said, it was the kindness of the English people that made him what he became, born a German but in my heart British His transfer to Manchester City was controversial in the Jewish community but the communal rabbi of Manchester chided those who blamed Trautmann for the Nazis crimes.His team mates welcomed him and he became an integral part of the team which lost the 1955 Cup Final but won it the following year when Trautmann s bravery resulted in a broken neck The book is generally well researched so it was surprising to see Clay give the Hungary England match in November 1953 as 3 0 when it was actually 6 3 Clay set out to write a history book which includes Trautmann as Everyman She succeeded magnificently Five stars. bought a different book for my son several years ago but when I asked to borrow it he had loaned it out.That book is a rare and expensive so I bought this really cheap on.Its fascinating and shows a lot of research.The way the ex Hitler youth changed his whole opinion of the beliefs he had adopted through growing up is something to learn about.The notion that not all Germans were Nazis and that Britain was kind to the enemy is a comforting one.