Whatever It Took: An Army Paratrooper's D-Day, Capture, and Escape from Nazi Concentration Camps

WHATEVER IT TOOK                                  HENRY LANGREHR

Now at 95, one of the few living members of the Greatest Generation shares his experiences at last in one of the most remarkable World War II stories ever told. As the Allied Invasion of Normandy launched in the pre-dawn hours of June 6, 1944, Henry Langrehr, an American paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne, was among the thousands of Allies who parachuted into occupied France. Surviving heavy anti-aircraft fire, he crashed through the glass roof of a greenhouse in Sainte-Mère-Église. While many of the soldiers in his unit died, Henry and other surviving troops valiantly battled enemy tanks to a standstill. Then, on June 29th, Henry was captured by the Nazis. The next phase of his incredible journey was beginning.

Kept for a week in the outer ring of a death camp, Henry witnessed the Nazis’ unspeakable brutality—the so-called Final Solution, with people marched to their deaths, their bodies discarded like cords of wood. Transported to a work camp, he endured horrors of his own when he was forced to live in unbelievable squalor and labor in a coal mine with other POWs. Knowing they would be worked to death, he and a friend made a desperate escape. When a German soldier cornered them in a barn, the friend was fatally shot; Henry struggled with the soldier, killing him and taking his gun. Perilously traveling westward toward Allied controlled land on foot, Henry faced the great ethical and moral dilemmas of war firsthand, needing to do whatever it took to survive. Finally, after two weeks behind enemy lines, he found an American unit and was rescued.

Awaiting him at home was Arlene, who, like millions of other American women, went to work in factories and offices to build the armaments Henry and the Allies needed for victory. Whatever It Took is her story, too, bringing to life the hopes and fears of those on the homefront awaiting their loved ones to return.

A tale of heroism, hope, and survival featuring 30 photographs, Whatever It Took is a timely reminder of the human cost of freedom and a tribute to unbreakable human courage and spirit in the darkest of times. 


My wife was able to receive this book from Netgalley for an honest review. Knowing that my father had served with the 82nd during WWII she knew I would be very interested in this story. Though my father was never captured. This man’s story at the beginning was much like my father’s and so many others. His description of the training and what was expected of each soldier was also what I had heard from my father, as well as the reason they were so successful was one General Gavin was there with the troops in the mud or the river at Market Garden. Also, each officer was expected to do the same.
This author’s story of being a POW and then finally escaping and his ordeal not to be captured added to this story and really made for a different read. He finally making it the American lines to be treated for his wounds and then back to the U.S. was equally powerful. Like some from that generation, the love of two people stayed until they were reunited and finding that his love Arlene was there still wanting for him and the two married just added to this story. I was glad he added the part of what the 82 and other troops did during the Battle of the Bulge, for many think just the 101st and Patton’s tanks were the only ones that fought. I found this to be a wonderful story and truly a lost generation. Received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at

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