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on 7 August 2004
Leon Degrelle was the pre-WW2 leader of the Belgian "Rexist" (from "Christ the King" or "Christus Rex") movement, a basically pro-Fascist Catholic party and organization which, after German invasion and occupation, joined with National-Socialist Germany as a far preferable alternative to both a Stalinist Soviet Union and a mediocre, money and class-ridden USA and UK. Degrelle personally fought on the very front lines of the Eastern Front for years almost to the very end. He then managed to get away, first to Scandinavia (in 1945 under German occupation to a later date than Germany itself) and then, flying a German plane, to Spain. The plane was attacked by British fighters and, running low on fuel, only just made it to Spain, crash-landing on the beach at San Sebastian, only a few miles from the French frontier. Degrelle was granted political asylum and lived the rest of his life happily and productively in Francoist Spain despite being under sentence of death in his native land. What is so very important about this book (amid the plethora of "histories" by people like Andrew Roberts and Martin Gilbert) is that, firstly, the author lived this history and, secondly, he puts forward another view to the usual SS=atrocity canards. This is, to a very large extent, "secret history" today. The book shows that the SS motto "Meine Ehre heisst Treue" (Loyalty is my Honour) has a great deal of truth in it.
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on 29 August 2014
I should have bought this book a few years ago but knowing a bit about Degrelle I thought it would be a politically based account and did not bother, a very big mistake on my account.
While reading the book Degrelles views and beliefs come across but at no point are they pushed in your face or made to be the focal point.
In a way he is to be admired for not compromising his beliefs and being prepared to pay the ultimate sacrifice for his beliefs, if only politicians would show some of his commitment.
Back to the book. Degrelle paints the people, isbas, rivers, sky and all the surrounding features, with wonderful colour, unlike other writers who leave you with a black and white image in your head.
The main part of the book is about the Cherkassy encirclement and the desperate fight of 160,000 men to escape. For further reading I suggest HELLS GATE by Douglass Nash.
Degrelle while being highly decorated and having the wound badge in gold glosses over or dismisses his own actions and concentrates on the actions of his men, detailing the close combat and what they came up against with the Russians.
He does not hold back with graphic detail, such as the time he found a young German soldier who had had both his legs sawn off at the knees by the Russians but in his last moments had dragged himself a few meters in the hope of being saved.
The last couple of chapters deal with the total collapse of the front and in my view give the most vivid account of what it was like.
I can highly recommend this book. In a world where you can be a hero for wiping your backside, I leave you with a quote from the book.
'You, reader, friend or enemy-watch them come back to life; for we are living in a period when one must look very hard to find real men, and they were that, to the very marrow of their bones.'
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on 13 March 2011
Having read a plethora of books on this subject and a huge number of eye witness reports over the years in my own humble opinion this is the best .Leon Degrelle an historical figure well known by everyone who has ever studied the history of the second world war , relates his experience of combat on the eastern front in pedantic detail . The prose is sometimes a bit flowery and the political slant given would of warmed the heart of Goebbels but the fact remains that this is very much a soldiers story . It`s diffacult for us 21st century armchair generals sat warm , dry and in comfort and with a full belly to imagine what it would of been like but this much decorated soldier wounded many times drags us there and it was as close as I want to get ! He spares us nothing . Read his account of the winter of 41 on a warm day and you`ll feel cold . Added to the vivid descriptions of the brutality and cruelty of the combat one gets a real sense of the misery incurred by the soldiers even when not in combat in just trying to survive . More than just the already well documented instances of the effects of frostbite but such things as the open sores caused by the mulitude of lice , filthy clothing having to be worn unchanged for months , the constant exhaustion , the suicides of those unable to bear it any longer. In one chapter he describes 10 days of continual close combat functioning on a mixture of fear , adrenalin and stay awake pills that enable you to understand why the afore mentioned poor sods did put a bullet through their own brain ! side step the politics , just read it because its the fullest acount of the Russian campaign that you will ever read .
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on 6 November 2013
It would be futile for me to attempt to describe this book - but for anyone who wishes to understand the lot of the infantryman - just read it !
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on 16 December 2014
A book that has stood the test of time, first published in the 1980's. Written by an anti-communist patriot, this is much more than an account of the attempt to extinguish bolshevism in Operation Barbarossa. Degrelle's lyrical and even poetic style takes time out from combat and shows the highly educated and previously successful Christian man he was.
Even though drawn from most European nations, the SS was vastly outnumbered by the USSR, which was also aided by the "capitalist" British Empire and the USA, something that is never fully explained in works of history ...
So bolshevism triumphed in Europe (and further afield) with the results we see all around -- perhaps especially in those nations that "won" the War ...

This however is not about larger issues relating to WW2 as the catastrophe that increasingly people are now coming to see it, but an account of the Belgian SS-Wallonie at war, written by their Commanding Officer as a tribute to them. Even casual WW2 readers will appreciate this classic book and the man who penned it.
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on 6 February 2015
A fantastic tale of horror and heroism, written by the man who witnessed both. He and his comrades suffered terrible conditions and great loses. An amazing story told ( I feel) brilliantly and not always in stereotypical,staunch Ss fashion.This would make an amazing movie
A must read for those interested in WW2 or those who just love a fast moving tale of daring do
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on 28 September 2013
Leon Degrelle was a Belgian soldier fighting on the eastern front defending Europe from the bolsheviks. Never really coming to terms with why the allies did not join the fight to save Europe from the red tide, this is his account of the war.
As with any soldier anywhere he was intensely proud of his unit, cared for the men under his command, believed in the greater cause and the leadership.You can't fault him for that, as some reviewer might. What you do get is almost a day by day account from the initial fantastic advances to the freezing winters to the hopeless grinding into submission in 1945. I agree the prose is flowery sometimes in a way that moments of clarity make you suddenly realise you are alive, especially when closely escaping death. Leon leaves you in no doubt about the suffering and the shear horrors of warfare. Some passages genuinely make you cringe especially as he describes death at -40 degrees C where faces and eyes are preserved instantly. You also get truly heroic accounts of soldiers who knowingly sacrifice themselves to defend their comrades and this isnt an unusual event.
On the negative side I did get about 3 quarters of the way through and started thinking the book was repetitive or dragging on a bit, but realised that that was part of the point, it was a real struggle and the endless attacks and counter attacks drew its toll on every person and you really feel it. Towards the end when the Russians are attacking in never ending waves and the troops are encircled in a hopeless situation he describes grown men crying like children. The despair, the inevitability of death is there in spades and you really feel for the men as you have been reading about them following their lives for so long.
It doesn't matter what side you were on or what politics, you cannot fail to be moved by those brave young men facing their own mortality is appalling conditions, it really is awe inspiring stuff, and required reading for anyone with an interest in the period or those that have a certain software title by Gary Grigsby.
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on 1 October 2014
A Truley well written book by the author who was there and lived it. I still fail to comprehend the suffering of all soldiers on the Eastern front whatever their nationality. Degrelle tells it as it happened not how the victors portray it. It is refreshing to hear the defeated soldiers version of events and gives real meaning and balance to the "victors" slant on history. Did Germany deserve to lose?, absolutely the regime was an evil one, however, that does not detract from the heroism of her armed forces.
The preface of this book is frankly pants... ignore that and read the story. I think you will agree it is a valid part of history not tainted by the Allies perspective of it. Balance is key and this gives it. I did not know allied warplanes machine gunned refugee columns in Germany in 1945 and if true I have not read of any war crimes trials for those pilots??. Again balance in all things, read and make your own mind up. I enjoyed it.
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on 14 August 2015
Well written, highly interesting account of the Wallonian Waffen SS, hard to put down, thoroughly enjoyed this and highly recommended to readers who like to hear the truth of ww2 from those who fought it.
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VINE VOICEon 19 October 2014
Leon Degrelle was a Belgian patriot who opposed communism and set off to fight eh Bolsheviks in the German SS. A really enjoyable and extremely graphic account of the second world war from the anti communist perspective. Most of the action takes place on the eastern front and as such I can say that this is the best eastern front biography I have come across and I believe I have read all the ones that are now in English. The reason is the sheer gritty detail and 'on the ground' perspective of this remarkable author and man.
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