154 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the best individual accounts, 12 Nov. 2002
"Black Edelweiss" is one of the best memoirs to come out of WWII that this reviewer (a professional author and film researcher) has read and can be compared with "Saat in den Sturm" by Herbert Brunnegger (another "ordinary" Waffen-SS veteran's candid memoir, only available in German at the time of writing).
"Johann Voss" (pseudonym) decided to write a personal journal about his experiences of the pre-war years and the WWII Arctic and Western fronts while he was still a prisoner of war. He started writing in March 1945 and was basically finished in December 1946. This shows. The book is rich with fine details, strong images and emotions that can't be found in books written later, at least books that ring so true as "Black Edelweiss" does.
The author truly manages to communicate how he probes his own mind on the subjects of national socialism and the war, including the Holocaust. He does not realize the full extent of many things and sometimes speculates naively but "Johann Voss" is to be commended for having resisted the advice to rewrite his notes from today's perspective. His words from 1945-46 deserve to be read just as they were written. However, there are some chapters that lack a contemporary note or two - to avoid misunderstandings. The epilogue, written in today's world, could also have been a bit longer, describing e.g. the author's recent years and his current perspective on society in the Third Reich.
The Editor's introduction to the book provides a good review of previously published books from and about the "lower level" of the German armed forces (esp. from the ranks of the Waffen-SS).
"Black Edelweiss" is a superb individual-level companion to the best overview of the Waffen-SS (in particular SSTK) that I know: "Soldiers of Destruction" by Charles W. Sydnor.