It is important for anyone interested in the air war over the Eastern Front to read this book, even though it is highly biased in favor of the Russian cause. It is even more important to read both the German and the Russian version of events. Since I can read German, I have many volumes of fighter and bomber units published in Germany. Mr. Bergström lists some of these sources in his bibliography and hence cannot claim ignorance to some of the statements he makes. One thing which disgusts me is his sympathy for Russian soldiers committing atrocities against German civilians, claiming this was caused by the Germans committing atrocities in Soviet towns and villages and in the concentration camps which the Russians uncovered in 1944. What is the author's excuse for the Russians committing war crimes earlier in Finland (1939/40), the Baltic states (1940 on), against German soldiers and airmen as early as 22 June 1941? What is his excuse for the Russians taking few, if any, POws before Stalingrad? Why did only about 6000 Germans return home after over 90,000 had been captured in Stalingrad? Why did the Russians kill wounded German soldiers throughout the campaign?
Bergström gives the Russians the benefit of the doubt but not to the Germans. Several times he cites total German aircraft losses to include those which were only damaged and losses not incurred in combat. He cites only Russian combat losses of aircraft. In one example, he states that Lt. Walter Wolfrum, I./JG 52, was shot down, whereas in fact he was wounded but safely landed his Bf 109G-6. He gives credit to the Russian pilot for his claim. In other cases he cites various Jagdgeschwader and lists total losses, but he includes losses to all causes. I have examined these statistics in the many volumes of Jochen Prien. There is no problem with listing such losses but one should do this with the Russian side also to get a better view of the losses of both sides. One example is the case of III./JG11 where the author states that on 29 June 1944 the unit had 12 Fw 190s "put out of commission." In actuality, only one fighter was destroyed in air combat with the pilot killed, another was destroyed on the ground, and ten were damaged, of which three were due to mechanical failures. Another example is where he lists Oscar Romm, C.O. of IV/JG 3, as having been shot down and wounded. In actual fact, I read Romm's account where Romm states that his radiator of his Fw 190D-9 overheated before he made contact with the enemy, resulting in an engine fire and he had to crash-land, resulting in his injuries. Bergström also states that the previous C.O. of this same unit, Koall, was probably shot down by Russian fighters even though the German records indicate that Koall was shot down by AA during a low level attack. One last case is Walter Brandt of I./JG 3 who was shot down according to Bergström but his aircraft was only damaged 20%.
Bergström tries to minimize Soviet aircraft losses. In his appendix he states that the Soviets lost 37,165 aircraft in combat. Yet, when I consulted General G.F. Krivosheev's "Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century," the figure therein was 43,100 aircraft lost in combat. Why the difference? Who is accurate? Krivosheev also states that a total of 88,300 Soviet aircraft were lost to all causes! It would be interesting to see a list of all 88,300 aircraft with the cause of the loss, pilot/crew casualties, date, unit and place. This might go a long way to explain so-called German overclaiming compared to Soviet losses. Many years ago I had read that the Soviets did not classify as a combat loss any aircraft which was damaged and written-off. The Germans did.
The author makes no mention of the part played by the RAF and USAAF in the destruction of the Luftwaffe's Jagdwaffe which sustained such heavy losses, especially at the Normandy front, that the German fighter Gruppen had to give up in June at least 12 pilots which basically reduced their strength in half. He does occasionally state that the claims of the Soviet Air Force were nine or ten times the actual Luftwaffe losses but he never challenges the claims of individual Soviet pilots.
One last comment. Many years ago, my uncle, an infantryman in the 225th Infantry Division during the war, told me that while his Army Group was bottled up in the Courland pocket in 1945, he saw two Fw 190s attack a group of Il-2s and he saw eight crash into the ground. Two excellent pilots!