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Adventures in my youth
on 13 July 2013
This is the military memoir of Austrian Armin Scheiderbauer who, whilst in his teens, fought on the Eastern Front, mainly during the German retreat through white Russia and Poland. He was eventually captured in a Danzig hospital and he then spent two and a half years in captivity. The book follows his call-up to his eventual release, about six and a bit years. As with most of these types of memoirs there are usually long stretches of boredom followed by moments of absolute horror. The many anecdotes are the best: the tank shell stopped by a hay bale and a belt buckle, the crossing of a river in white Russia, a wrong turn into an occupied village, the dried out corpses of Volkssturm in a cellar in east Prussia etc. I personally found his captivity most illuminating as I'd imagined it to be far worse than he describes! There are a few gripes: Armin refers to photographs but they are not reproduced, there are no maps of Poland/Russia so it's difficult to gauge what the local and wider picture is and there are German words that don't appear in the glossary. On the whole though, this is an interesting and excellent primary source.