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on 25 October 2013
This book is truly absorbing. Obviously the rarity of a personal account from a Waffen SS combat soldier is something in itself and this is very well written. The shock and disbelief the young SS soldiers experience when encountering the Russians is truly believable, especially when they leave their wounded Kameraden behind to the fate of the enemy with dire consequences. I was a little surprised at the level of animosity he showed against the Wehrmacht but this becomes understandable at the end as the witch-hunt begins.

Bartmann gives us a insight of what it was like to be an SS soldier in probably the most dangerous place in the world. He does not shirk responsibility and carry`s out ordered tasks with no concern for his own well being.

The retreat westwards is truly harrowing with the Russian vengeance on the civilian population particularly hard reading.

Obviously it his personal account during war time but I would be interested to see what happened post war, particularly to his brother and parents as there is little mention.

Suggest get the hard back as this is a book to own for life. Take down from the shelf every few years. You won`t need the TV on.
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on 14 October 2013
I have just completed this long awaited title, and I must say it was well worth the wait! The Author has produced a refreshingly honest account relating to his time has a soldier in the elite Waffen SS Division Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler. There a many thrilling tales relating to his day's on the "Ostfront", culminating in his attempt to evade Russian imprisonment escaping from the Halbe pocket. His lines a sprinkled with both humour and his political viewpoint back then during his day's with the SS and in summary at the conclusion of his memoirs. I would highly recommend this book to all historians of both WW2 in general, and specifically student's of Hitler's Elite Forces
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on 1 February 2014
Wow! A truly magnificent and horrific story, which kept me engrossed, page by page. A real eye opener as to what really went on during the Battle for Berlin, and the fighting in Russia, a really gripping true life story, which captures your imagination well.
I would recommend this book to most people I know
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on 1 March 2014
Really liked the book it was a little light on details ( maps etc ) but as a personal account a great read, not the monsters we are led to believe, at least Bartmann stood by his beliefs.
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on 16 March 2017
I really enjoyed this book. It offered a different perspective on some of the fiercest fighting of WW2.
I note that several reviewers use the word " honest" . Hmm. Insofar as Mr Bartmann has told no obvious untruths of which we are aware, then that is accurate. As to him making full disclosure of all he did in LAH, of what he was aware and what he saw - then I am seriously skeptical. I was somewhat taken aback when I realized that he seemed quite vague in exactly where he was in Russia, despite recalling with clarity the day to day exchanges. LAH were the sharp tip of the Nazi spear - they went where others feared to tread and they fought with absolute fanaticism, literally to victory or death. So much so that other units would do all they could to avoid sharing flanks with them as they knew wherever went LAH, only death and destruction followed. Nothing much about the extermination squads - Einsatzgruppen - yet a brief mention of Totenkopfverbande - which comprised the Concentration Camp Guards and who were trained in Dachau. I'm sure when they met up the air would sizzle with rumors and stories, but no, it seems Mr Bartmann just missed out on that bit.
I find it hard that the elite Division of the SS actually didn't seem to come across or hear about the round ups and mass executions - 500, 1500, 5,000 and 50,000 a time. The Wehrmacht were tied in to it far more than history openly discloses so how did a faithful LAH mann seem to miss out ?
I may be doing a disservice to Mr Bartmann, but I can only see his extremely readable and to a degree insightful book as an attempt to whitewash himself and his alte kameraden. To ask us to believe that a soldier on the inside of the most prestigious and feared SS regiment, who frequented command bunkers and acted as communications runner in one of the most bloody and horrific battle fronts never heard anything that made him stop and think for a moment what he had gotten himself into - or what on earth he was being asked to do - no, that bird just doesn't fly.
Still, with war crimes like that attributed to your comrades and your family eager to read what you did in the war - what really does one expect ?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 May 2014
I am passionate about reading memoirs because I believe you can only get the true flavour of the soldier's experience by reading the words of veterans. My understanding of some aspects of WW2 for the Waffen SS and the people of Berlin has been enhanced by reading this book but I'm afraid I have to class my experience as mediocre. That's not to say I wouldn't recommend the book; I certainly would, because I feel it is accurate and well written. What it lacks however is an edge. I feel that Bartmann held back on how he described some of the events he took part in and that includes everything from his experiences at Lichterfelde Kaserne right through to how he describes the fighting on the Eastern Front. Perhaps it was a natural reservation on his part, to preserve his own dignity and that of his comrades. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's my opinion.

Still, I give it 5 stars because we will never see his like again but I'll be looking forward very much to the release in the UK of the memoirs of Rochus Misch this August which I'm hoping with be edgier.
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on 26 January 2014
Erwin Bartmann account of his war was absolutely top draw !!! i can highly recommend this book indeed a must must
read for all ww2 buffs.
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on 25 September 2014
I found this a truly excellent read. I have been reading true war books for many years but have found few books written by German soldiers. This book tells of the author's own experiences and is very graphic in places. It is interesting how the SS soldiers were both admired and feared by the German population prior to and in the early days of the war and as the allied bombing took it's toll and with two fronts closing in on Germany to the German people the SS were seen as part of the regime that caused Germany's plight, he was even stoned in the street by a crowd just for wearing the SS uniform (something that would never have happened in the early days of the war). The book covers the authors time on the Eastern front and the continued retreat back to Germany.
This was an enjoyable read which I would recommend to anyone interested in true life stories during WW2.
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on 2 October 2014
Very absorbing and interesting book told from the other side. I found it fascinating and he comes across as a well grounded, honest young guy who makes no apologies for serving in the waffen SS, nor appears to need to. Lots of interesting accounts from the eastern front and Germany towards the end of the war as it slid into the apocolaypse.
A great read
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on 3 March 2017
Tremendous read. Well-written, heartfelt, honest. Uncluttered by apology, political context or unconvincing tactical passages, we are given a young soldier's account of war experienced in a vacuum. His Regiment and comrades are what interested him. Interestingly, we are given details of capture, post war experiences in captivity and images of civilians caught up in the turmoil of defeat. A superb memoir.
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