18 March 2020

Book Review - Cover Name: Dr. Rantzau - Nikolaus Ritter, translated by Katherine R. Wallace (2019)

A few years ago, I stumbled my way through Nikolaus Ritter's memoir: Deckname Dr. Rantzau - Die Aufzeichnungen des Nikolaus Ritter, Offizier under Canaris im Geheimen Nachrichtendiesnt. [Cover Name Dr. Rantzau - The Notes of Nikolaus Ritter, Officer under Canaris in the Secret Intelligence Service].

I say stumbled, because my schoolgirl German found the espionage lingo quite challenging. But... I think I got the gist of the book.

Luckily, Ritter's daughter, Katherine Ritter Wallace, decided to have Ritter's memoirs translated and published in English via the University Press of Kentucky in 2019. Sooooo much easier to read and understand! Having read Katherine's translation and my original blog post on the German version, I believe my comments stand the test of time and interested readers can read my book review blog post.

Overall, I'd say the translation was quite well done as Ritter's stuffed-shirt, patriarchal German personality comes through loud and clear!

As I noted with the original German version, Ritter does tend to play hard and loose with the facts. On top of that, he portrays himself as the consummate spy and spy master who engages in meticulous preparations for his missions. All this while tossing disposable and poorly prepared agents at England with casual disdain. While Ritter focuses on the "successful" agents, he spends no time touching on the failed agents who ended up being hanged or shot.

Overall, Ritter's memoir (German or English) needs to be taken with a grain of salt. It's a great book for an overall view... not so good for the detailed facts.

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