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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 15 December 2016
I should know by now not to take the headline of a book quite literally. All this book was, was a series of paragraphs of how he shot people as a sniper with the score in bold numbers. After that section it's all about his time in captivity in Russia!! I read it because I paid good money for it. Wish I didn't now!!
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on 24 June 2017
Fascinating account of warfare on the Eastern Front and his exile to Siberia amazing he survived all the horror and exile under Stalin.
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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edition, it would have been more interesting to have a just a couple of log samples then perhaps some previously unpublished photos germane to the topic.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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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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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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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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on 17 November 2015
A very interesting read although short in length. The horrors faced by Sutkus on the Eastern Front have been I suspect somewhat glossed over but there is no doubting his assertion that it was kill or be killed.

His affection for Germany never left him and nor did his hatred of the Russians and I can only conclude he was simply of his time.

As appalling as the horrors he went through in the war the years behind the Iron Curtain certainly seemed at least as brutal if not more so and that he survived into his 70's was almost miraculous.

I would readily recommend this book.
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on 17 May 2016
The book comprises two parts: the wartime experiences of the author based on his official Sniper's Log Book and his experiences following the defeat of the Wehrmacht and the author's subsequent captivity and internment by the Soviets.
The first half is a little light on narrative detail but serves as a useful indight into operations during the last months of the war in the east.
The second half is more revealing and reinforces the impression that perhaps the western Allies were naive in their dealings with the Soviets and should have taken a much harder line with them in the months immediately post April 1945.
Many German POWs weren't returned to Germany until the late 1950s and early 1960s if they survived at all: Sutkus wasn't repatriated until the 1990s - after the final fall of communism, such was his notoriety with the Soviets. Even then the German authorities were of little help, refusing him his resettlement entitlement due to him as part of his war-pension...
A sobering account, not to be missed.
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on 5 December 2015
I started this book expecting a war memoir of the eastern front from a German soldiers point of view which it is ,and describes all the horrors of war that go with it.
He also describes his background growing up on the borders of pre and early war years in east Prussia living and working on a farm too.
The second part of the book is about his post war life and how he got banished to Siberia and he describes in detail but without being boring his Daly life and the eye watering incompetence of the Soviet way of running a farming collective.
After I finished it I realised some people did really have a tough life many years after the war ended.
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on 24 January 2016
The book genuinely appears to have been written by, or at least dictated, by the author which is both a strength for it's voice and a weakness for some structure, depth in some areas and editing. Sutkus' life owes much to his luck and will to survive and the book is effectively two parts - the first is life up to and including his sniping and second post-war experiences. Both aspects could actually be much longer and would still be interesting, certainly if there was an additional helping hand in writing them.
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