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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warts and all, 15 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjager on the Eastern Front 1941-43 (Hardcover)
When Omar Bartov sought to explain the staying power of German infantry soldiers on the Eastern Front (Hitler's Army) he concluded that it was a thorough indoctrination in the most lethal aspects of Nazi ideology that provided the essential motivation. The author of the diaries on which this book is based, Hans Roth, supports the accuracy of Bartov's analysis in his own words. Roth was a thoroughly unpleasant character - an opinionated racist and a blindly loyal extremist. He worships his officers and is unable to recognize courage in soldiers other than those on his own side. He is still less able to consider them as even human. The limited introspection he is capable of degenerates immediately to maudlin sentimentality. His concern when he learns of the murder of civilians - from one of their murderers - is for the killer's mental state. He doesn't question its justification or the morality of it.

There is no doubt that he was an excellent soldier and that he saw himself as an admirable one. But one can fairly wonder if Roth, and those like him, were actually courageous as we understand the term. Was his behavior under fire and in hand to hand combat simply the result of the brutally intensive training for which the German army was infamous? Roth himself seems not to know how he lived through many of the encounters he describes which suggests that instinct and conditioned response played a large part in his survival.

This book doesn't suffer from the reinterpretations that many recent Wehrmacht memoirs exhibit because he didn't outlive the events he describes. We can be grateful for that.
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