Great book! Gives a vivid account into the life of an ordinary German Solider at war. It can be quite depressing but overall it truly captures the horror of war and is a fantastic historical read form a primary source.
This is truly a remarkable first hand account of the fighting on the eastern front during WWII. There are many other books which have all dealt with the same topic, but I have never read a book which simply describes what happened with honesty and simple clarity. We follow machine gunner Koschorrek between the years 42-44 in different parts of Russia, Italy and Romania. The book actually starts with his lucky escape from the Stalingrad pocket in Dec -42, from there on it just gets worse. He describes the incredible bravery performed by the average soldier, the friends and comrades who were not so lucky and last but not least, the inhuman conditions of war as they were experienced on the eastern front. I read this book in two days - it was impossible to put it down.......
I don't really want to repeat what other reviewers have said. What I would like to add though, as an ex-professional translator, is how well this story was translated into English - by a Norwegian translator. Apparently the translator himself is of the wartime generation, having fought in the Norwegian Resistance, so he has some experience of the German Army in WW2. I found it especially interesting how he gave British Army equivalents some very specific German military designations, and how he conveyed the German flavour of the story so well.
There is always unfortunately great potential for a poor translation to ruin a good story, but in this case the translator has done the author proud.
Good if albeit hard going in places account of an ordinary German soldier's experience fighting the Russians on the ground as an infantryman. It underlines how by no means were all the Germans bad people, they just found themselves in a situation in which it was fight or die. They would never fire on an unarmed foe, or on women or children, that was the code in this particular group, one of them even closed his eyes when he fired as he couldn't bear to see what his bullets were doing, presumably he missed most of the time anyway. Of course there were as the author says the sadists who were able to use war as an excuse for their vile behaviour, and I have read an excellent book by a German Sniper who pulls no punches on the total brutality of both sides, describing scenes that make the start of saving private Ryan look like walt disney. Can't remember the title the surname was Albrechter an Austrian that is definitely worth reading. This is gentler in details than that, but even so one definitely gets the atmosphere of the conditions that they fought and died in. If I took one thing away from the book it was that in a different life probably most of the ordinary soldiers, not the units like the SS were just doing their job and had no choice and would have led peaceful lives and been caring towards others. My father who lived through the war, toured southern Germany by train with his wife in his 70s and he returned with huge praise for the German people, he told me that not once did he have to lift his suitcase onto a train or escalator, a member of the German public would offer to do it for him despite him obviously being British and not able to speak a word of German. I think sometimes that needs pointing out.