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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2014
Think again while reading this! A hugely tough character hewn out of the accident of birth and an ambiguity of birth place which follows him for years. With the mindfulness that comes from having to be on the ball without the comfort of modernity to survive, in a physically tough environment, moulds this young East Prussian into a survivor. Allied with the unusual ability to fire a rifle accurately and be at home outside in all weathers, conspire to turn Sutkus into a master assassin.
It may lack literary style and can be a bit matter of fact, but is an unusual story from the losing side turning the reader into a wide eyed spectator of the incredible challenges he faces in Siberia. A tiny glimpse into the fates of the Axis POW's who were banished to the furthest Eastern reaches. Imagine the courage, nay...'balls' of a man who even in the 1960's still declines an invitation from one of the most powerful men in the USSR at the time, Yuri Andropov, to spy on their behalf as he still wants to remain faithful to his desired homeland, Germany!
An incredible story and there must have been plenty more of a similar ilk!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 3 November 2009
Bruno Sutkus' Scharfshutzenheft (sniper's log) recorded his killing of 207 Soviet soldiers between May 1944 and January 1945 and formed the basis for a book published in Germany in 2003, the year in which Sutkus died, after a life which can only be described as very harsh by today's standards.
The first part of the book contains sparse detail of his early life and is mainly about his career as a sniper with Grenadier Regiment 196 on the Eastern Front. It is a grim kill-by-kill account, he was clearly an exceptional shot, 'winning' 52 sniper duels. It is a bit repetitive though, besides narrative on each shooting, it reproduces the log entry for each kill. There are also 18 pages of plates reproducing parts of his handwritten log. To me, in this English language edition, it would have been more interesting to have a just a couple of log samples then perhaps some previously unpublished photos germane to the topic. The narrative tell us little of Sutkus' obviously excellent fieldcraft or weaponry other than that he used the ZF-K98k rifle. On both tactics and German sniper weapons, Albrecht Wacker's book, 'Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger (Pen & Sword, 2005) provides more detail and a more interesting read. Sutkus' book reflects what was in his log and his memory of subsequent events but would benefit from more editorial narrative and explanation of the circumstances. Ultimately, one gets the impression that Sutkus showed little contrition for the fact that his country had started the war, or the way it proceeded to wage a war of annihilation. He was clearly an extremely tough character and when you read of his apalling treatment in post-war Soviet labour camps you can understand his rabid anti-communism. Of course he takes this too far stating, for example that "[B]efore the Bolshevik Revolution the Russian people were wealthy and propertied. They harvested so much that their barns overflowed with wheat to the extent that they were at a loss what to do with it all" (p132). That said, this book will interest historians of the Second World War, not for its writing but the comparative rarity of such accounts in English.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2014
This book is incredible and shocking.
The military part of it is quite interesting but not especially remarkable - it's what happens after the war that is the most interesting and tragic part of it all and at times made me feel very sad indeed.
Life in Stalinist Russia is an example of just how uncaring human beings can be to each other - and that was how they treated fellow citizens. WW2 only ended in 1945 for some people - for others it continued until 1989!!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 1 November 2010
Being a member of a shooting club, and trying to develop my sniping skills, I am also interested in the historical context and evolution of sniping. There are some really good technical manuals on the market, but I also like to read the personal accounts of this special breed of soldiers, especially those who fought in WWII. I started reading this particular book with great anticipation, expecting an original story from a real sniper ace, and some interesting technical details about the rifles and different scope and ammunition he used and how he developed his personal skills. However, to start with, only half of the book is about his actual sniper's career, which started rather late in the war. Rather than telling an intriguing story of his life at the frontline, the first part of the book rapidly becomes repetitive (and therefore somewhat tedious) as it quickly becomes a mere summing up of each kill, which is then also repeated in more "official" terms, providing time, place, witnesses and effects of the Russians he kills ("shot in the chest" is I believe repeated almost a hundred time (or at least so it sounds...) It is described in a cool, almost distant manner, which almost makes the reader forget that behind the daily cummulative counter, each victim was a human being after all. Half way the book, Sutkus is captured which is the start of a totally different novel, describing his relationship with a woman and child he wants to take care off when these are banished to Siberia. It is a sad story about deprivation, humiliation, escaping death by a wisker on a number of occasions. Of his life on a collective farm, where he develops agricultural working methods that are superior to those of the corrupt Soviet system. In the end he is allowed to go back to Lithuania and finally Germany where he is reunited with the Red Cross Nurse he feel in love with during his time in the army. As such - from the point of view of a reader who expected a real sniper's story, this was a disappointment. The translation isn't that accurate either, which made the balance finaly tilt toward two starts rather than three. I can much more recommend: "Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knight's Cross" by Albrecht Wacker or "The Sniper" by James Riordan.
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VINE VOICEon 12 November 2014
a quite shattering account of a young man whose life was destroyed by the Russians. By all accounts a normal decent young man called up to fight his country who was then captured in East Germany AFTER the end of the 2nd world war by the russians and spent the next 50 odd years as a slave labourer in Siberia. I came away appalled that anyone could dare fly a communist flag or support communism when it destroyed so many lives. A very gripping account of how the russians destroyed a young mans life. Recommended
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on 13 July 2015
An interesting book for any one interested in WW2 from the German perspective . As the information is taken from Sutkus personal writings ,what I have read so far is basically an after action report . If you are not of a military mind set this book could be found to be callous and boring , having said that I found this book very interesting and informative as to the use made of the sniper by the officers in the field .
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on 1 June 2014
Whilst I appreciate that the catalogue, which forms much of Part One, is necessary, as a foundation for Part Two, I found the detail somewhat irksome. However, Part Two absorbed me completely and I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the Eastern Front of WW2 and it's aftermath. The survival of the author is miraculous.
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on 29 June 2014
Excellent life story of a man who fought against the Soviets and spent most of his life banished to Siberia to live the Bolshevik 'paradise'. Death was with him most of his life, a tough man and survivor. A great book, the type that is hard to put down.
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on 11 July 2015
Another insight to life 'on the other side'. Chilling in its factual depictions, it shows the suffering that continued for decades after the war was supposedly over.
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on 6 April 2014
The 1st half of the book is Bruno war diary, the second 1/2 is his life story after 1945. An amazing account of life in russia makes you realize how luky we are.
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