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The Last Panther - Slaughter of the Reich - The Halbe Kessel 1945

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  3,237 ratings  ·  203 reviews
While the Battle of Berlin in 1945 is widely known, the horrific story of the Halbe Kessel remains largely untold.

In April 1945, victorious Soviet forces encircled 80,000 men of the German 9th Army in the Halbe area, South of Berlin, together with many thousands of German women and children. The German troops, desperate to avoid Soviet capture, battled furiously to break
Kindle Edition, 129 pages
Published May 20th 2015 by Bayern Classic Publications
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Trey Spencer Read some of the comments or watch Lindybeiges video on the book. Its speculated that this book is fake so Wolfgang probably never existed and if he d…moreRead some of the comments or watch Lindybeiges video on the book. Its speculated that this book is fake so Wolfgang probably never existed and if he did he is not the one from the book. (less)

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Borge Arild
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book claims to be a first-hand account of the battle of the Halbe in late April and early May 1945. However, it is for a number of reasons most likely a war novel in the same league as Svein Hazzels stories. While the author might have some technical understanding of tanks and how they work, he certainly does not understand how tanks die on the battlefield. There are a number of graphic scenes in the novel that simply do not happen with real tanks, but only in the fantasy of a man making up ...more
Aug 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: world-war-ii, history
This book, like the rest by Sprech Media (SS Panzer - SS Voices, The Last Panther, Tiger Tracks, Hitler's Children) is a piece of fiction.

There's just too many details that point to that - from the utter and complete lack of sources or identifiable unit numbers (or ANYthing that could have led to verifications of facts) to technical and historical mistakes (for instance, the IS-3 tank appearing in a 1943 story) it's quite evident that this is not a collection of "eyewitness accounts" but merely
Mark Luongo
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Gritty, at times disturbing, view of the war's end from a German perspective. Emphasizes the horror and brutality of those final days as Germans, both military and civilian fled the onslaught of the Red armies. A good account of tank warfare as well, German Tigers and Panthers versus T34s and Stalins. An excellent primary source. ...more
The end of World War II from the German POV the last month of intensive combat just south of Berlin, a narrative of horror and pain that is hard to grasp it was very well done the Author obviously knew what he was talking about. The only image that comes to mind is a forest fire a terrible fire that destroys everything plant, tree, animal, everything tries if it can to escape the destruction but so few manage to make it out this is like a human fire of rockets and bullets, and flame and so few m ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, but it really feels like fiction to me. Still better than the previous book Tiger Tracks. But this is not a non fiction book. I've read plenty of first hand accounts of German panzer commanders of WW2, this is not like those. Having said that, this was still enjoyable to read. I just wish Amazon would list this properly as fiction. ...more
Bon Tom
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some images will stay with me for life. Not sure if I'm enriched or ruined because of it. ...more
Sarah Macarthur-King
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Emotionally exhausting, detailed account of a horrific part of the Second World War from the perspective of a German tank commander.

I was struck by the intricate details recounted by the author of accounts that most people would blank from their minds forever due to the terror and stress.

Secondly, I found it interesting how the author notes how material possessions become valueless in such conditions, where food, ammo and fuel become the only currency.

Human destruction on this scale, inflicte
Mark Jeffs
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a brutal account of a desperate battle to break across river Elbe at the end of the second world war by a mixture of German soldiers looking to surrender to the Americans to avoid the retribution and gulags of the Soviets. Amongst these units is a panther commanded by Wolfgang Faust. The panther is their deadliest weapon in there fight to break through.

The account is viseral, bloody and dramatic. There are many atrocities described in the account in vivid detail but with a detatchment t
Mike Hales
Dec 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Fascinating and horrifying

The slaughter is endless as is the brutality but this book contains a view of the war I'd not seen before. The gradual stripping away of humanity in the war setting is awful but the practicality of the writing somehow softens the horror. A chilling reminder.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great story

This was a very interesting and enthralling story-a real page turner. I would certainly recommend this. It was like the Odyssey in the time of World War II
Zeth Sampson
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very good read, horrific but that's war. He may have embellished it slightly but it must have been hell for the people trying to make it back. ...more
Gavin O'Brien
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I would like to open very briefly by highlighting that I do not believe this work, regardless of the intro, is an actual memoir written by a former soldier Wolfgang Faust. In truth I doubt the latter ever existed. The Publisher and Translator, Sprech Media, have released a number of similar war titles over the last two years, and the translator noted at the end of the work does not turn up anywhere other than as part of the Sprech Media fold. Within the work itself the author names none of those ...more
William Webb
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There seems to be significant debate about whether this book is fiction or truth. Told in first person, the author gives no details about his own unit or those fighting around him, no names that we can verify his story with, nothing to prove it one way or the other. And yet this doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of reading it.

IF the book is fiction, as many think it is, then the author has written a brilliant story that required intimate knowledge of many aspects of operating a Panther.
K.C. Sivils
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This autobiographical account of the Halbe Kessel reads like a novel. The author, Wolfgang Faust, commanded a German Panther. A veteran of the Eastern Front, he'd seen more than his share of horror. What he witnessed in the Halbe Kessel made even a hardened veteran take pause.

It's a bit strange reading a book about WW II where the Germans are not the bad guys (I'm American) as the story tells of the frantic attempt at escape by German military personnel and civilians. Hoping to reach the America
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2
The book is not well crafted, but the author was not a writer but a tank commander in the 21st Panzer Division of the German Wehrmacht in May 1945. Consequently the style is unsophisticated and virtually a continuous, straightforward narrative. Perhaps this is best, because what Wolfgang Faust describes is simply Hell on Earth. This is warfare at it's most savage where more civilians were being slaughtered than soldiers.

The Soviets were exacting a bloody, terrifying revenge upon the fallen Reich
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is supposedly a first-hand account of the Battle of Halbe in 1945, where the German Ninth Army attempted to break out of the Russian encirclement of the Spree Forest and head West, the object being to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russians.

The author's name is apparently a pseudonym, and it's not clear who the actual author is, so estimating the authenticity of the account is difficult. Also, details presented in his other works, notably Tiger Tracks, have been effectively debu
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is quite difficult to rate. It either gets near top marks, or none. If this is, as it claims, a true story, then it deserves praise and commendation as a gritty, realistic retelling of war. For all those observing that he "cant" have seen all that he saw - most of the book takes place with him scanning the periscope of his panther - it was his job to see, as well as being life or death for his crew.

However, there remain some doubts as to whether this is all a fantasy retelling of a historic
Jan 28, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a great deal of speculation about this book and others including Tiger Tracks and D-Day Through German Eyes. I, too am sceptical of the authenticity of this book. Other reviewers have substantiated their case through tangible detail. For me, I find the lack of content around tank mates most disturbing. In close quarters, even for a few months, human character and behaviour will be more imprinted than the recollection of weaponry and firefight details. So I suggest readers view this as e ...more
Jeff Swystun
Jan 30, 2016 rated it liked it
There is a great deal of speculation about this book and others including Tiger Tracks and D-Day Through German Eyes. I, too am sceptical of the authenticity of this book. Other reviewers have substantiated their case through tangible detail. For me, I find the lack of content around tank mates most disturbing. In close quarters, even for a few months, human character and behaviour will be more imprinted than the recollection of weaponry and firefight details. So I suggest readers view this as e ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
The only things about this book that seemed to be true statements are the title page and the page numbering. If it had been accurately advertised as a novel, I would have given two stars. Not even good as fiction.
Jeffrey Lee
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a good story, but I don't think its 100% accurate. I think Faust may have been a real tanker, but the story is embellished. There's just no way he could have seen the whole of the battlefield the way he describes it from the narrow field of view he had. ...more
Jim Sanderson
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well done, not happy. Faust is clearly not a fan of how we treat each other.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I just finished and this is a gritty, often graphic novel depicting war through the eyes of a tank leader. But here's my only rub; what's real? The hatred between Russians and Germans is well documented. They would not hesitate to kill each other and prisoners were often not taken. But in my opinion, these books by Wolfgang are too fantastical. Too precise. Too Hollywood. So many things are believable, but the fact his tanks get hit but don't blow up, while everyone else's does has that Bruce Wi ...more
Paul Janiszewski
May 04, 2019 rated it liked it
The forces of collective vision continually colour the path of thought. Judgement is initiated, compounded and perpetuated through "intellectual authority" with regard to perceived values of provenance, validity and execution of the written material. Wolfgang Faust's - 'The Last Panther' is largely relegated to the ether of myth and legend. Indeed reference to this memoir does not appear in any serious bibliography nor footnote. I myself had made a conscious decision to avoid it. Critical judgem ...more
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
It's a gripping narrative but therefore because of that it's easy to suspect that it is to a degree fictionalised. No names (except for the author of course) and one is left wondering how the author could remember all that happened. Some incidents, it is the case, would be seared on anyone's memory for the rest of their life. Having said that, the combat is tense, brutal and raw, and the life of a tanker (from what I've read elsewhere) is well-captured. Death comes quickly and horribly for men w ...more
Mai-Lan Hanley
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting Real

Once again a first hand description of the horrors of modern war from the experiences of one who had been there. Interesting in that this was a German Soldier and a tank commander toward the end of the war with the Russians during the final days! The book offers an insight into things we don't normally hear given our focus on the battles in Western Europe following D Day. I arrived in Germany the first time in 1962 seventeen years after the war. Even then much of the aftermath o
Simon Mulqueen
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
It's not a bad book, exceptionally violent and to-the-point in its writing as if it were written by a soldier and not an author. However I can't shake the feeling that so many others echo - that it's a piece of fiction. There appears to be no historical evidence for the author, also during the book there's never any word of the unit they're in beyond ''the 9th army'' and for the length of the book the crew of the Panther are not named, Gunner, Loader, Radioman etc. they're all just called by the ...more
David Devine
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Faust's second book of his experiences during the final days of the war kept me riveted. From beginning to end his harrowing experiences as he and his crew made their last ditch attempt to escape the Russian juggernaut that hounded them seeking to destroy every German in its path, not caring if they were soldier or civilian. The absolute horrors he faced exceeded anything he had seen on the Russian front. He recounts the myriad of things that happened to him and around him as he and his crew fou ...more
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is a book of fiction.

I'm fairly sure of this.

Those of us who are used to reading military memoirs will know that although violence is a part of the story its not usually as brutally described as it is in this book. Veterans tend to draw a line under the depths they go.

This book is extremely gory and graphic to the point it just comes across as a work of fiction. Its just dream world stuff put together by a part-time historian playing on the readers lust for gore.

It uses shock tactics to en
Hans Brienesse
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Harrowing and concise, this is the gripping story of the close of the Second World War in Europe in all it's savagery and pathos. The author in this reminiscence brings to us who were not there all the details of just what it was like to be fighting for your life when the end is so near in distance terms yet so far in real terms. The details of the butchery and treachery in this small sector of the front are graphic and true; the author holds nothing back. Those who hold the glory in war must ne ...more
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20 likes · 2 comments
“That was the way my war ended, in May 1945, on the West bank of the Elbe, under American occupation but without an American in sight. After my two years of fighting, after Kursk and the retreat to the West, after the Halbe Kessel and the fields full of bodies. After everything I was ashamed of, and everything that I took pride in, my war ended with a drunken Kettenhund shooting a hole in my shoulder blade.” 2 likes
“It was amazing to think that the complete Hetzer vehicle, at barely sixteen tonnes, weighed less than the turret on a King Tiger, which I believe weighed eighteen tonnes. How many more Hetzers could Germany have built, for the cost of the five hundred King Tigers which we produced in total in our factories? Two thousand Hetzers, or three thousand? What effect would this have had on the war? Such questions can lead to all manner of calculations and alternatives.” 2 likes
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