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on 31 March 2017
An excellent collection of first-hand German accounts of the fighting in and around Berlin, in the last days of WWII in Europe. It is made outstanding by the account of Willi Rogmann, which takes-up the last half of the book. I am very grateful that a few surviving German soldiers took the time to document their stories: history is written by the victors, and the balancing accounts of the vanquished are vital for a more complete understanding.
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on 18 November 2016
At last I have found a book worth a mention and recommend it to people with similar interests as myself. You won`t be disappointed.
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on 11 June 2017
So much we see from an Anglo American perspective.
Truly a must read for all of us in Europe and help us never to make the same mistakes again.
Truly this was a most horrific war and one wonders could it all have been handled differently.
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on 20 March 2017
excellent read, but I just wish it wasnt marred by missing letters, spelling mistakes and the like.
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on 18 July 2017
Well written but more on the detail and less on the personal aspects of war which i prefer
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on 6 February 2009
This is an amazing book of accounts written, with one exception, by members of the small percentage of German soldiers who emerged relatively unscathed from the final battle for Berlin in 1945. Their stories sometimes seem to show unbelievable luck, until one realises that most of their comrades were not so lucky and were killed; a few survived and these are their stories.

As stated in the other revues, Willi Rogmann's account seems incredible. Yet he received medals for actions which were equally incredible and were fully documented. Writing as someone who spent 11 years in Germany and therefore has some understanding of the German psyche and social interactions, I believe Rogmann's story. The description is heavily flavoured by his opinions, of course, but it's clear that he was a uniquely positive-minded individual who simply never gave up trying 100% when most of us would have decided enough was enough. That saw him through where a great many others didn't make it.

It would make a heck of a film!
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on 13 December 2005
I have just read this book in the paperback version and was impressed by it's presentation of the events leading to the fall of Berlin through the eyes of the (mainly)German soldiers. I particularly liked the way some of the accounts overlap and present differing perspectives of the same event, for example the attempted breakout from Berlin to the west in early May and the fighting for the Seelow Heights. For me it puts faces on those that are, for many accounts of the battle for Berlin, merely targets.
It is a shame therefore that chapter 12 blows the whole book out of the water with a yarn that makes The Old Lady Who Lives In A Shoe look like a hard hitting documentary on urban overcrowding.
In it, Sgt. Major Willi Rogmann of the SS begins his tale in February 1945 by telling Hitler, in the bunker, that the war is long since lost. Instead of being strung up from the nearest lamp post like most defeatists he is returned to his barracks.
Come April and the Russian offensive, his battalion commander begs him to join in the fight as he has an order from Hitler not to join in. Our heros' sense of duty gets the better of him and is assigned a group of bandsmen and told to form a mortar platoon. Unsurprisingly his men have no experience of heavy support weapons but off they go anyway. The newly formed section retire for a pre battle drinking session in their quarters only to have the party gatecrashed by an SS Brigadier who gets drunk and fills them in on the true situation in the bunker making our Willi the best informed squaddie in town.
In the morning they march up to the Reichs Chancellery. As Hitler is down in the bunker for the foreseeable future, Willi decides that his office will make an ideal billet for his section and finds a box of cigars and a bottle of cognac in the desk drawer. That's what you call luck in the office of a rabid anti-smoking teetotaller!
Later on Willi has his boots pee'd on by a puppy belonging to a blonde woman wandering around in the ruins. He tells her in no uncertain terms to keep her dog under control. It turns out the dog walker is Eva Braun, Hitlers girlfriend. Could this be the sticky end for Willi? Sadly, no.
On and on he goes, pointing out the shortcomings of superior officers to their faces, conning quartermasters out of hoarded supplies to win the love of his men and civilians alike like a jackbooted Bilko / Robin Hood.
As the Russians begin to close on his positions Willi discovers a supply of heavy rockets in a cellar but does not know how they work, but again luckily, finds someone wandering around who looks like an explosives expert. What an explosives expert looks like and why he isn't busily engaged setting demolitions isn't explained but he is intimidated into showing Willi and his NCOs how they work before they chase him away - WHY?
Now an expert in rocketry Willi later stops a Russian assault destroying numerous tanks. This makes him a well known and respected figure who cannot be allowed to put himself in danger so he is put in charge of escorting stragglers back to the frontline. Again I scream the question Why? Why, when every combat soldier is needed, is a warrant officer required for such a lowly task?
Later in the fighting Willi is hit in the throat by a shell splinter. The wound is sufficient to almost stop him breathing meaning a several hundred yard crawl through the rubble to a field hospital. However after the splinter is removed and a tetanus shot our man is as right as ninepence and on his way.
As the fighting spreads into the Reichstag we are informed that mortars were fired horizontally to create holes on the bricked up doors. Mortars are fired by dropping the bomb down the tube onto a firing pin - they can't be fired horizontally. Even if they could the recoil would cripple the firer.
On the story goes with Willi saving the day left, right and centre until the inevetible capitulation. Willi comes across a large number of men assembled at a brewery. He joins them thinking they a planning to break out to the Americans but....
Willi smells a rat and barges into a room to discover the senior SS officer in Berlin doing a deal with the Russians to sell him and his comrades down the river.
Willi has a shouting match with his superior in front of the Russians before storming out to warn the men to a cry of "Bring him back or he will spoil everything!" from the SS officer
If you're writing comic strip dialog then have him say something entertaining like "Grrr, I'd have got away with it but for that pesky Sergeant Major!"?
Other officers thank him for making them realise what fools they had been and beg him to take them with him to the Americans rather than face Siberia.
At this point the book discribed a long arc towards the waste bin. With five more pages of this drivel to go I finally lost the will to go on.
Had Willi been writing this review it would have plopped in dead centre. As this is real life it missed by about 18 inches and slid across the floor.
To the authors credit, he does question the account and provides the citation for Willi Rogmanns German Cross in Gold from March 1945 the bravery of which cannot be disputed but this chapter, in my opinion, is 84 wasted pages. If they had been used for chapters of the preceding quality this would be an excellent book. Instead it is like finding a maggot in your apple - you forget about the good bits and focus on the maggot.
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on 30 January 2016
I completely enjoyed this book and I'm sure many others will too. As an ex soldier I could easily identify with expressions like 'Taken on ration strength' and the arguments that can cause when the new unit to be is short itself of rations and materials, also the radios dialogues, and the War Diaries' and the information given on various weapon characteristics. I found it all interesting. Willi Rogmann gets a bad press in some of the reviews shown here, however I reserve my judgement, they were desperate days and who knows what is the truth. His citation given at the end of his chapter is extraordinary to say the least, but it did come from 'Higher command.' The SS Divisions and their individual smaller units and their soldiers were a force to be reckoned with, that is for sure. The other chapters also offer good interesting material, especially on the Western Front, in particular with the corroboration of the fine detail of postwar German Army and US Army records. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading of the endeavours of others. and especially to some who may, perhaps like me, know Berlin quite well. Certainly recommended and worth the time spent reading it.
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on 12 September 2006
This is an excellent and gripping collection of first-hand accounts from former German Army and SS soldiers who were involved in the defence of their fatherland, mainly in the last few weeks of the war around Berlin. It provides many insights into the nature of loyalty, bravery and what is like to take place in desperate defence without any real hope of ultimate victory. It should be of interest to anyone interested in what is was like to serve in the German forces at that time.

It is true that the account given in the last chapter of the book "The Band of the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler" by Willi Rogmann does seem a bit far-fetched in places. However in the Appendix the author does invite the reader to assess the credibility of his story. Rogmann's skill as a soldier and bravery are however matters of record, as documented in the Commendations detailed in the Appendix.
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on 5 October 2008
I have just read the book. The depth of knowledge was very impressive, and certainly tells it as it was, I can recommend this read to anyone,
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