This book is a strange "war memoir" that anyone familiar with the WWII Eastern Front will find puzzling.
Mr. Metelmann claims to be a veteran of the 22nd Panzer Div. who went to the eastern front in the winter of 41/42. The author's story begins at childhood, then moves to his training and service in the Wehrmacht on the eastern front,fighting and surrendering to the Americans, and finishes in the immediate post-war situation.
This book gives the reader little information about the war on the eastern front except for his contact with soviet soldiers and civilians. Despite the premise of the book (i.e. as a war memoir), the author spends little time on his supposed combat experience. He doesn't talk about his weapons or the vehicles he drove (he claims to have been a panzer driver). He doesn't talk about the types of tanks he drove, their characteristics, or being retrained for new models (tank types were upgraded throughout the war on all sides).
The author, unlike all other war memoirs (axis and allied) that I have read, does not even name his comrades. In fact, he hardly mentions them and then only with first names. This seems strange in light of the strong bonds communicated in books as diverse as "Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer and "With The Old Breed" by American Marine E.B. Sledge.
He seems to spend an inordinate amount of time with soviets. All Soviet soldiers are portrayed as heroic figures who die making political speeches about the glories of marxism. Every soviet civilian he comes upon vows they will defeat the evil facists while also making boring political speeches about Lennin and the communist cause. I find it odd that he never ran into anyone in the Ukraine that welcomed the German invasion since the Soviets had starved millions there. He never runs into a russian civilian who curses the collectivization that destroyed the lives of millions and sent millions to the gulags. He never speaks to a soviet soldier who was forced into suicidal attacks by commissars and NKVD troops. Curious.
His brief overviews of combat actions always extol the wily Soviets who always seem to get the better of the Germans whose officers are usually portrayed as mindless Prussian aristocrats who can think of nothing other than costly frontal assaults. This seems to be exactly the opposite of all other historical analyses of German vs. Soviet performance. Curious.
Strangely enough, he seems to omit all of 1943! He seems to go from the retreat after Stalingrad in the winter of 42/43 directly to the retreat after Bagration in the winter of 44/45! He does not mention participating in Manstein's counterstroke at Kharkov in spring 43 even though he certainly would have taken part, given that he was part of Army Group South. He makes no mention of Citadel except to mention that an officer he served under will finally die in the battle. Curious.
His encounters with soviet soldiers and civilians seem almost scripted, like bad Soviet propaganda. Although he accurately portrays the brutality of the war on the eastern front with regard to the treatment of civilians by the Germans (but, strangely enough, not by the Soviets), there's very little else here to be commended.
In short, this is a book which has very little useful historical information to offer. This book would not be reccommended by anyone who knows anything about the eastern front and I certainly would give it zero stars if I could. Buy "Forgotten Soldier" instead.