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138 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best individual accounts
"Black Edelweiss" is one of the best memoirs to come out of WWII that this reviewer (a professional author and film researcher) has read and can be compared with "Saat in den Sturm" by Herbert Brunnegger (another "ordinary" Waffen-SS veteran's candid memoir, only available in German at the time of writing).
"Johann Voss" (pseudonym) decided to write a personal...
Published on 12 Nov. 2002 by Lars Gyllenhaal

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I have read better accounts.
Heavy going not what I expected. I have read better accounts.
Published 8 months ago by RIch


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138 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best individual accounts, 12 Nov. 2002
By 
Lars Gyllenhaal (Rosvik, Sweden) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
"Black Edelweiss" is one of the best memoirs to come out of WWII that this reviewer (a professional author and film researcher) has read and can be compared with "Saat in den Sturm" by Herbert Brunnegger (another "ordinary" Waffen-SS veteran's candid memoir, only available in German at the time of writing).
"Johann Voss" (pseudonym) decided to write a personal journal about his experiences of the pre-war years and the WWII Arctic and Western fronts while he was still a prisoner of war. He started writing in March 1945 and was basically finished in December 1946. This shows. The book is rich with fine details, strong images and emotions that can't be found in books written later, at least books that ring so true as "Black Edelweiss" does.
The author truly manages to communicate how he probes his own mind on the subjects of national socialism and the war, including the Holocaust. He does not realize the full extent of many things and sometimes speculates naively but "Johann Voss" is to be commended for having resisted the advice to rewrite his notes from today's perspective. His words from 1945-46 deserve to be read just as they were written. However, there are some chapters that lack a contemporary note or two - to avoid misunderstandings. The epilogue, written in today's world, could also have been a bit longer, describing e.g. the author's recent years and his current perspective on society in the Third Reich.
The Editor's introduction to the book provides a good review of previously published books from and about the "lower level" of the German armed forces (esp. from the ranks of the Waffen-SS).
"Black Edelweiss" is a superb individual-level companion to the best overview of the Waffen-SS (in particular SSTK) that I know: "Soldiers of Destruction" by Charles W. Sydnor.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 18 Mar. 2008
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M. Petzold (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
This is the kind of book I had always hoped to find - an intelligent and well-written first-hand narrative and reflection of someone who has been a volunteer of the Waffen-SS. I'm glad that with this book I did. I don't think there are many other books that even fall in the same category, let alone that would compare to it.

The book might be disappointing to those who are interested merely in battle field action, but for the same reason it can be all the more fascinating and rewarding to those who are also, or perhaps even mainly, interested in the private thoughts and motivations of people who volunteered in those days and went on to do the fighting (and sometimes even, as in this case, lived to tell the tale).

It's a very personal account - "A memoir of combat AND conscience". So nobody should be surprised if it isn't anything else, that is, more or less than that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something different to read., 3 Feb. 2014
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I chose this this rating as I thought the author could have put more into his narrative. I am not sure if he is being politically correct at times given the nature of the subject. However it is a really good read and I do so in two days. I was impressed with the way the story unfolded but there was a nagging boubt about the "denial" passages where he stated he had no idea about the general situation re SS contribution to the "darker side" of WW2. For me it was about the execptional long march and the stab in the back from Finland. I understand better now the war in that inhospitable region and also give credit to the tenacity of the SS in the march back to Germany through Finland and Norway. It made me smile at times in particular the chapter about the engagement on the Swedish border and the almost carnival approach the Swedes took to the unfolding battle across the river. History is tempered by time and for me Mr Voss has had to walk the tightrope between what the victors imposed as criminality and how he saw himself as a prisoner trying to escape that persecution or more accuratley prosecuction. I would agree not all SS soldiers were aware of the Einsatsgruppen commandos 100% but the evidence was certainly out there. Maybe fighting in the Arctic circle insulated the SS gebirgsjager from the vast majoirty of it.
However a good book, worth a read and if it is an honest account so much the better. Buy it and see!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 31 Mar. 2014
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A good account.
He makes an interesting point - all SS soldiers were condemned out of hand as war criminals as they were the hands-on units for the state to exterminate jews and so on.

However - the SS also fielded a number of prestigously named elite army units who fought as ordinary soldiers and did it well.

He makes a valid point when he speaks of his comrades who fought honorably for Germany who are not only not commemorated as heroes but reviled as criminals when this is not the case.
Victors justice which was hard to swallow for some, this young man went on to the US he eventually decided not to pursue the point and eventually pursued a carreer in law.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 15 April 2008
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
Not to be bought if you are after details of battle as the author does not go through them in too much details, or in the amount of details some would expect. However a very interesting book for those like me who wondered how a kid ended up in teh Waffen SS, and his thoughts during the war.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting facts of a unkown front, 13 Dec. 2006
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J. R. Mcallister "jock1" (Edinburgh, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
Decent book, which i found a eye opener to the Finish front and how the germans were froced to retreat. More factual than about soldiers minds and experinces. Having said that, it does give a insight to why so many young soldiers from all over Europe went to fight the Soviets with the SS. Plenty of romatic visions of 'Old Europe'.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but ultimately sad... An un-PC review, 10 Mar. 2009
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
Firstly let me say this. I feel we should be grateful to any Waffen-SS veteran who chooses to share their memories with us. All the veterans from both sides will soon to be gone from this Earth, and something unique will have gone with them. Their memoires will be all that future generations will have. Well, we must all die sometime...

There are two kinds of Waffen-SS; those who joined at the beginning, 'the True Believers' and tasted victory,knew what it meant to them, then endured defeat until death in true Waffen-SS style.Then there those like Herr Voss, who joined after Stalingrad, who only knew defeat and the prospects after that. The ones that died cannot tell their tale, but they died with their Ehre intact. Most published veterans have to kowtow to post-45 denazification, PC and modern German/Western culture values. So, to be frank, a book by a Waffen-SS veteran reads much like a book by any other war veteran e.g. paratroops, other non-SS formations.

I agree with another reviewer, that it is an interesting perspective from a forgotten front. But his 'crisis of conscience' doesnt really do it for me. Too many Waffen-SS veterans falling on their swords for PC.

Why is it that Waffen-SS was declared a criminal organisation but not the Cheka/OGPU/NKVD/KGB (for having massacred up to 4 times as many people under Stalin?). Why is it you can buy pictures of Stalin openly but not of Hitler in Germany? Why is it that former Nazis and Waffen-SS have to fall on their swords and 'repent', but not former Stslinists, Communists or NKVD/KGB people? Are 6 million worth more than 20-30 million?

Which Holocaust are we damning or ignoring, the Nazi or the Stalinist? However many million innocent people died, by whatever means at whomsever's hands, they still died.

If and when former Waffen-SS veterans (those who are left) canspeak theirminds and hearts freely about all aspects of their service, however 'disagreeable' to modern sensibilities, to be received with respect and objectivity not predjudice and knee jerk reactions, then we may begin to understand why they were fighting as they did. Until we can balance Nazi horrors with equivalent Soviet/Stalinist horrors, and stop persecuting just the Nazis, or better still stop persecuting full stop and begin understanding, Waffen-SS veterans will be obliged to continue writing this sort of relatively anodyne stuff.

I respect him for writing but it just doesnt feel 'real' for Waffen-SS. Too anodyne, too PC. I doubt he could have done it any other way and got published.

No, I dont believe he was a murderer nor any of his comrades; his were just ordinary soldiers, a bit like the British
'Forgotten Army' in Burma. But if other Waffen-Ss did commit acts on the Eastern front, just as did their NKVD military opposites, they all, both sides, still deserve to have their say, their 'day in court'(post-Nurnburg). We can only understand with open minds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 1 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
After reading other reviews I'm glad I went ahead and bought this book. It puts issues such as the fear the German people had of the Bolsheviks into a better perspective. These men were fighting for a cause that they believed in, and not one that is these days is commonly associated with the Waffen SS. The challenge he faced once captured by the Americans is so well written that you cannot help but feel for this proud soldier.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing book, but lacks a little depth, 6 April 2012
By 
Steven Brown (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
Thought this would be a very interesting insight into being on the "wrong" side of a war. How could someone in the SS justify or believe in their actions?

This is a very interesting of a young volunteer who signed up to join the Waffen SS. He describes his pre-war thoughts and life, before describing the battles he took part in, interspersed with life in the PoW camp.

The book is interesting, but the best bits are all too fleeting. Seeing a Jewish prisoner about to be summarily executed, and the confused feeling of him and his comrades. Dark hints from his father about other "behind the front lines" duties that the SS were doing. It all adds to an intriguing picture of ordinary Germans who would not stand for the concentration camps going on, but almost didn't want to look hard enough to see if they were.

The book does draw you in, and is very interesting, but the interesting points never quite get covered in enough depth to make it a great book. But in summary, definitely recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It has the warmth and honesty of a man who although very young had a great passion but tempered this with a reasoning mind, 19 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Black Edelweiss (Paperback)
This is not a real life Sven Hassel epic.
It has the warmth and honesty of a man who although very young had a great passion but tempered this with a reasoning mind.
I found that it helped me to connect with the people and the times much better than most books on the subject that I had previously read. (He grew up under the Third Reich but coming from an educated Middle Class background still questioned everything he had been told).
It came as quite a surprise how many elements of his life were both fervently pro regime whilst other were openly anti Nazi. The author himself quotes the great struggle against Communism as his personal motivating factor.
A good book for those questioning what they themselves would have done in those circumstances.
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Black Edelweiss
Black Edelweiss by J. Voss (Paperback - 1 Jun. 2002)
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