We all know what WWII was like from the British view point, but have you ever wondered what it was like to be on the losing side? I have many many times, my parents grew up during the war. My mother & father have told me many things about what it was like for them and their families during the war.
One day my mother spoke with one of her neighbours and asked her, what her life was like growing up during the war as she is German. It turned out that here life wasn’t much different to my parents, they just happen to have lived in different countries.
So this book really caught my attention and once I read the synopsis I knew I just had to read it. Was the war the same for the German soldiers? When did the German soldiers realise that they were going to loose this war? How did it make them feel? Well this book gives us an insight in to one German soldiers experience.
Callum is British but his maternal grandfather is German. On one of Callum’s rare visits to see his grandfather he asked him what it was like to be a German soldier and when did he realise that they were going to loose the war. His grandfather wasn’t very receptive to being asked these question as he didn’t talk much about what happened in the war.
To Callum’s surprise after his grandfather had passed away his uncle found a letter that his grandfather had written for him telling him of events that he witnessed and how they affected him. The events that he wrote about happened in late 1944.
By late 1944 for some of the German soldiers that were still alive knew that Germany was going to fall and they started fleeing west on foot, they were broken, bedraggled, their tanks had been blown up their artillery abandoned, their friends & brother’s-in-arms buried in hostile soil.
Now displaced from his own company Callum’s grandfather had been put in to a small party and sent out to forage for food. While this small band-of-brothers were out foraging it became more and more obvious to the men just how futile this was was for them. Weak and starving themselves they were becoming more and more discourage and some of them kept picking fights with each other.
As they wondered in the woods trying to stay undetected by the Russian’s, they would come across the odd German soldier or a small group of German soldiers that obviously knew that they couldn’t go on. That they had decided it would be best to die by their own hand rather than the enemy or fellow Germans for being cowardice and to be shot anyway.
Throughout their time foraging they saw such inhumane acts that had befallen some of the small Russian villages and their villagers. Seeing these atrocity’s that their fellow brothers-in-arms committed it made some of them think that they should in fact loose the war.
They were eventually successful in finding food, but what they had to do to get this food is something that only the most desperate of man would do and these men were that desperate.
Eventually Callum’s grandfather was captured and sent further east to a Russian POW camp. Which he wasn’t released from until 1948, four years after the end of the war.
We all know about the atrocity’s of WWII, but to also hear the viewpoint from a German soldier makes you realise, that some of the soldiers didn’t even want to be doing what they were doing. However they had no other choice, it was either do as they were instructed or be shot as a traitor and not knowing what affect that this would have on their families back home.
A very insightful read, for anyone who is interested in WWII or for someone who want to know a German soldiers perspective.
Pages: 208, Publication Date: 14 May 2020, My Rating: