This Carnival of Hell: German Combat Experience on the Somme 1916
Blue Acorn Press, Richard A. Baumgartner, editor
This is the latest book from Richard "Rick" Baumgartner of Blue Acorn Press. Blue Acorn is noted for the fantastic collection of Civil War books, both new and reprints of out of print titles.
Rick Baumgartner has been working on This Carnival of Hell on and off for the past 20 plus years. Rick was also a fellow WW I reenactor and one of the founding members of IR 63.
The book is, as the title implies, about the German soldier's experience during the battle of the Somme. The story is told by the soldiers themselves through a variety of means. Rick has extensively studied, collected and translated rare and hard to find regimental histories, published memoirs and other works written in the 1920s and 1930s as well as interviews conducted in the late 1970's and early 1980's with about 16 surviving German veterans including Ernst Junger. As if that wasn't enough, he also used several private unpublished memoirs shared from private family collections. Where possible, he has also included period photographs of the various individuals or their regiments.
This Carnival of Hell does not retell the Battle of the Somme from the grand tactical level but zooms in the level of the microscope to the level of the individual soldier from the level of Hauptman on down. The book follows the battle as much as possible on a day-by-day and month-by-month format with a soldier's story covering several days spent in the front line.
For the casual student of the First World War, this book is a rare fantastic view through the eyes of the soldiers of the Imperial German Army and a sharing of their experience during their time on the front line during this great battle. For the serious reenactor or living historian, this book is an invaluable resource of information useful in assisting with crafting a background of experiences.
This book is well worth adding to one's library collection and one that you will find yourself reading again. I highly recommend reading it.