First I'll tell you what this book is not. Its not a graphic account of all the battle action of troop movements or objectives captured seen on the Eastern Front by the author. It is a highly personal, sometimes emotional and biased account of the few joys and the many horrors of sights and experiences during and after battle to the author, his comrades and civilians that were caught up in the war. But its also more than the anecdotal experience for it appears the author after surviving the war, studied the war for decades, gaining an understanding far greater than his own personal experience and has included brief summaries and background information that is sometimes overlooked by other historians. The author also quotes from Charles Sydnor, David Irving, Paul Carell, Douglas MacArthur and other European authors I'm not familiar with to support some of his comments.
One of the most intriguing comments dealt with the opening week of Operation Barbarossa when it was discovered the great number of Russian troops, planes, tanks and supply warehouses so close to the border that both German soldier and officer felt sure Russia was preparing their own invasion of Europe. He confirms his thoughts by quoting the Russian defector, Viktor Suvorov.
The author begins his story by telling a little about himself, his family and his family's heritage. He moves on to discuss the relationship of Holland and Germany after WWI, the despair of Germany experienced at the hands of the Allies, the rise of Hitler and his successful attempt to pull Germany up from the depths of economic depression which also benefited Holland. He explains how many Dutch were proud of Hitler to succeed against the determined efforts of France and England to keep Germany destitute. Hitler's stance against Communism was also appreciated and the main reason Verton and so many other non Germans volunteered.
After volunteering, he was handed over to the Wafen SS and drilled to be physically and mentally tough. When the Wehrmacht couldn't accomplish something, they'd send the SS to complete the job type of attitude.
As mentioned above the author discusses the personal ramifications and doesn't describe specific battle engagements in depth from a military perspective for most of his war experience like you'd read from Glantz, Nash, Nipe etc. That changes, to a small extent, in the last months of the war with the siege of Breslau. Mr Verton spends half of the book on the determined resistance of the German garrison holding off a far superior Russian force from daily attacks, artillery barrages and strafings from their air force. He clearly writes with pride with their resistance and the total despair with their surrender in early May. He continues to explain the Russian revenge on the people and soldiers of Breslau and how helpless they were. He explains how he exchanges his SS uniform for an Army NCO uniform and makes his escape to the west where he finds his father and older brother were killed. He concludes his life with marriage, finding a job and keeping in touch with his surviving comrades.
This is a very personal account, delivering hundreds of experiences and tribulations and the author doesn't hold back any punches on the brutalities the Russian Army inflicted on its own people, German soldiers and European civilians. I can think of only a few instances where praise was delivered on the Russians. The T34 tanks, Kayyuska rockets and partisans were mentioned as being the dread of the German infantry. In the last days of the war while the author was recovering from a gun wound a Russian soldier could have killed him but didn't.
Besides the personal, other topics were discussed. The valor of General Niehoff at Breslau, the betrayal of Paulus and Seydlitz after Stalingrad, the vast amount of aid the US gave Russia, the pride in Hitler for trying to defend Europe from Communism are just a few examples.
There are a couple maps, a few photos of the author and fellow soldiers and a number of sketches to study. A Bibliography ends the story.
Depending on your interests, this is the type of book you'll either really like or hate. The author seemed very straight forward about his views and though I don't agree with everything said, it was still an interesting read.