This book is based on a series of diaries and notes that the author made while fighting on the Eastern Front and that he managed to store safely inside his uniform jacket before leaving them with his mother
The author reached the front just at the fighting on the Eastern Front turned against the Germans. He briefly saw combat in Stalingrad, and was involved in the desperate attempts to avoid being trapped after the Soviet's broke the German lines west of the city. After a brief lull spent in Italy he returned to the Eastern Front where he spent the rest of the war. For most of the time he was thus involved in either futile defensive battles or chaotic retreats.
A constant theme of the book is the fate of the author's many comrades, some only briefly encountered in passing, others who remained with him for long periods of time. Some move on to other units but many were killed or mortally wounded.
The author gives a more balanced description of his Soviet enemies than some German memoirs, largely avoiding the clichéd descriptions of mindless hordes advancing with commissars at the rear that blight other accounts. We do still get accounts of outnumbered German units holding off massive Soviet attacks, but it's clear that these were always hard-fought and close-run affairs, with the result often decided by luck. The biggest surprise for many will be the chaotic nature of the German front lines for most of the time, with small units left to fend for themselves before being forced into costly retreats.
1 - En Route
2 - Fighting in Stalingrad
3 - A Narrow Escape
4 - A Last-Minute Reprieve
5 - Blood Red Snow Falls Not from the Sky
6 - A Temporary Lull
7 - Hunting Italian Partisans
8 - Return to the Russian Inferno
9 - Alarm at the Nikopol Bridgehead
10 - Fear and Hatred Supplant Tears
11 - Through Bottomless Mud
12 - Deadly Intermezzo
13 - From Knight's Cross to Wooden Cross
14 - Condemned to Death
15 - Vultures over Nemmersdorf
16 - From Poland to a Fool's Paradise
17 - Better Dead than Siberia
Author: Günter K. Koschorrek
Year: 2011 edition of 1998 German original