Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay

Tiger Command, Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay

The first thing the reader needs to do here is ignore the claims on the back that this is a 'new novel' by Carruthers and McLay. As their own postscript makes clear this is in fact a translation of a German novel written by an anonymous author, 'Ritter von Krauss'. His works remained unpublished until the death of the last of his children, who had blocked their publication because they disagreed with their father's political beliefs and in particular his campaign to restore the legal rights and pensions of former members of the Waffen SS. The translated text reads very fluently (so much so that I didn't realise it was a translation until the end).

I didn't realise this until I had completed the novel, and it makes a big difference to my attitude to it. It would have been a very odd novel for a modern author to write, with entirely decent Germans struggling against sadistic 'Soviet' villains and high ranking traitors, with the aim of bringing the Tiger tank into service, little mention of German war crimes, and a largely positive view of Hitler (including the false view that he didn't especially celebrate his birthday in wartime). There is a brief mention of forced labour and hints of darker things that are dismissed by the main character.

However the novel makes much more sense with a former German tank commander as author, especially one who remained a convinced nationalist even after the war. It makes the book a valuable source, giving us a view of the attitudes of a wartime tank commander (or possibly the attitudes and knowledge that a post-war tank commander wants the reader to believe he held at the time), slightly modified by later knowledge of some of Germany's war crimes and of the complex world of Admiral Canaris. We also get an interesting view of the technicalities of tank warfare, at least from the German side.

Translators: Bob Carruthers and Sinclair McLay
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 314
Publisher: Coda Books
Year: 2013 edition of 2011 original

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