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Total War: From Stalingrad to Berlin
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ARCHIVED READS > 2013 - February - "Total War" by Michael Jones

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Jan 07, 2013 08:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments This book is open for a group/buddy read and comment/discussion starting on the 11th February 2013.


Total War From Stalingrad to Berlin by Michael Jones by Michael Jones
Reviews:
"The horror and scale of the Eastern Front were unspeakable – 27 million soldiers and civilians died on the Russian side, 30,000 Jews murdered at Babi Yar on a single day – but Jones has elicited astonishing accounts from both sides.

We learn the transforming effects of war. Women became adroit snipers (Lyudmila Pavchenko 'amassed 309 kills') while Vladimir Hotenkov, who could not kill a chicken before the war, dug himself out of a collapsed trench and destroyed a tank with two Molotov cocktails.

Despite becoming inured to carnage, the discovery of the death factory at Auschwitz shook the Russians: 'Some were sobbing; others stood ... silent, rigid with shock.' Terse, colloquial, unrelenting, this book is an epic depiction of 'a tarnished victory'."
- The Independent



"It is curious to think that it is not so long ago that the eastern front in the Second World War barely featured in the western consciousness.

That particular myopia has long since been corrected, of course, not least thanks to the work of such luminaries as John Erickson, David Glantz and Antony Beevor. Indeed, the correction has been so complete that one is already tempted to ask if there is anything new to be said about that most decisive of theatres.

Michael Jones’s Total War answers that question in the affirmative. Using first-hand testimony and memoir accounts from both sides, he weaves an engaging narrative outlining the human dimension of the conflict.

Jones tells his story with his customary flair. Starting with the battle for Stalingrad – the high-water mark of Nazi expansion – he traces the Soviet advance through the killing fields of Byelorussia and Ukraine into the very heart of the Reich, focussing throughout on the experiences of the ordinary men and women who were doing the fighting.

The theme that looms particularly large in this book is the growing desire for revenge that was engendered among Red Army soldiers as they advanced.

In the first instance, as they recaptured their own villages and towns, they saw the horrors left by the German occupation: entire families hanged, homes torched, communities destroyed. Spurred by the imprecations of arch-propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg, the Red Army was determined to avenge its people.

“Kill the German”, Ehrenburg wrote in 1942: “Your motherland demands it.”

Then, as the Red Army entered occupied Poland and discovered the unspeakable crimes of the death camps, those sentiments were further amplified. Far from being hardened to such bestiality, Jones argues, Red Army soldiers were profoundly affected by what they saw.

As one of them noted of the liberation of Auschwitz: “I never saw anything so terrible throughout the entire war. It pierced me to the very soul.” As a consequence, their desire for revenge would be transformed into a righteous and sometimes uncontrollable rage. German civilians would reap a whirlwind of retribution.

Jones’s approach is necessarily pointillist, but he writes engagingly and with considerable verve, giving a convincing impression of the whole.

As well as using excellent first-hand testimony, including poetry, letters and diaries, which allow the reader into the mind of the average Soviet soldier, he has also unearthed some genuinely new material, such as the deliberate Nazi attempt to infect the Red Army with typhus in the spring of 1944.

If there is a caveat to be expressed, it is simply to suggest that Jones might use his excellent first-hand material a touch more sparingly. Occasionally the reader has the feeling of being overwhelmed by the multiplicity of voices that he employs, and a leaven of context or analysis – or some judicious editing – would make its impact all the more powerful. In this instance, one suspects, less might well be more.

However, that minor grumble should not detract from what is an excellent book and a genuine contribution to our understanding of a war that was characterised by such unimaginable suffering."
- Roger Moorhouse


message 2: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Feb 11, 2013 04:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments On page 1 the author talks about his visit to Poklonnaya Hill and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow. Below are some images of the granite obelisk he talks about and a link to some details on the museum.


description

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http://www.ww2-landmarkscout.com/2009...


message 3: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I appreciated this sentence from the author, setting out the basis of the book, from the Preface (page xvi):

But the achievement remains a heroic one nonetheless. Between brittle Soviet propaganda – never able to acknowledge that victory against the Nazis was a flawed triumph – and Western cynicism, which denigrates the unflinching courage of the vast majority of Red Army fighters, lies a remarkable human story, one of astonishing bravery, brutalizing depravity and a deeply moving struggle against the corrosive cruelty of the war. For while some Russian soldiers succumbed to this cruelty, revelling in atrocities they themselves committed against the weak and the unprotected, many others pulled back from the brink. ‘Our army was battling for its very soul,’ one veteran said. It was a battle never fully won. But the very fact it was fought at all makes the story powerfully redemptive.

What did others think of the author's statement?


message 4: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (last edited Feb 11, 2013 03:42PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments I was a cold war warrior in my youth, studying Russian language and all things Soviet because they were the great enemy. I remember being sceptical (not cynical) about the claims of the "Great Patriotic War" sacrifices because the Soviets always lied or exaggerated. But now I am coming to appreciate how large a sacrifice they made and am glad to see the truth coming out. Without taking anything away from the western allies sacrifices, reading about the massive combat in the east gives a new appreciation for their soldiers' achievement on the eastern front. They were subjected to the most horrifying brutality and not hard to see why they visited the same back on the Germans.


message 5: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments Hi Mike,

A very valid observation and comments. I also suppose the Soviets didn't help their cause but not allowing Western historians access to the archives for some time.


message 6: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments I think I've heard somewhere that the Putin regime is closing off access to historical records again. If so, more heroes will be lost to history.


message 7: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I hope that's not true, Russia seems to be regressing rather than moving forward, a shame for the people and the country.


message 8: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments On pages 38 -39 the author mentions Wolfram von Richthofen and his role in the bombing of Stalingrad. For those interested in further reading on this man and the Luftwaffe during this campaign here are two books of interest:

Wolfram Von Richthofen Master of the German Air War by James S. Corum by James S. Corum

Stopped at Stalingrad The Luftwaffe and Hitler's Defeat in the East, 1942-1943 by Joel S.A. Hayward by Joel S.A. Hayward


message 9: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Feb 11, 2013 04:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I was slightly intrigued to read the account from Stepan Mikoyan on page 40 about Turkey mobilising their forces in 1942 and conducting reconnaissance missions across the Russian border. Had anyone else read this before?

I did a search on the Internet and found this information on Turkey and its role during WW2:

Turkey was neutral until several months before the end of the war, at which point it joined the Allies. The president Ismet Inonu did his best to keep Turkey out of the war despite pressure from Nazi Germany and the Western Allies. During the War, Turkey helped the Jewish Community by protecting those who made it to Turkey. Later, most of the Jewish people who lived in Turkey during the War moved to Israel or the USA.

Turkey began WWII bound to Britain and France by the military alliance of October 1939; declared neutrality in June 1940 after the fall of France; and ended the war allied with the Allies. Much of Turkey’s proclaimed neutrality was a result of Turkish fears of a Nazi invasion. After the fall of the Balkans to the Nazis, Turkey signed a Treaty of Friendship with Germany in June 1941.

Throughout the war, Turkey walked a tightrope, balancing the needs and expectations of the Nazis against those of the Allies. While Istanbul was a center of spying and intrigue during the war, Turkey took no overt action against the Nazis, and in turn the Nazis never violated Turkey’s borders. In October 1941, Turkey signed an important trade agreement with Germany. In exchange for raw material, especially chromite ore, Germany would supply Turkey with war materials and other finished goods. At the same time, Turkey maintained friendly relations with the U.S. and Britain, which supplied Turkey with modern war equipment in exchange for chromite ore. Turkey’s chromite ore was critical for the Nazis. Turkey was their sole source for chrome, a vital element in steel making. Albert Speer stated that Turkey’s chromite ore was so vital to the Nazis that war production would come to a complete stop 10 months after the supply was cut off. The ore was shipped from Turkey by rail through some of the most rugged country in the world. Towards the end of the war, the allies targeted bridges along the main rail line to stop the chromite shipments.

In 1941, Turkey was added to the lend-lease nations available to receive equipment. In January 1943, during the Casablanca Conference, FDR considered asking Turkey to enter the war. In November 1943, all three of the big leaders, Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin, called for Turkey’s entry into the war. In February 1944, after Turkey made its entry into the war contingent upon massive military assistance and a significant Allied military presence, Britain and the U.S. stopped their aid program. By 1943, the Allies foresaw no threat from a Nazi invasion. It wasn’t until April 1944 before Turkey ceased the chromite exports to Germany, and then only after being threatened with the same economic sanctions that the other neutral countries were under. Later in August, Turkey suspended all diplomatic relations with Germany. Late in February 1945, on the eve of establishing the United Nations, Turkey declared war on Germany.


And for those interested in further reading on Stepan Mikoyan:

Stepan Anastasovich Mikoyan Memoirs of Military Test-Flying and Life with the Kremlin's Elite by Stepan Anastasovich Mikoyan by Stepan Anastasovich Mikoyan


message 10: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments Very interesting tidbit on the chromite ore, don't recall ever hearing about this as a target for allied bombing. Knew the Turks joined late in the war but not about the recce missions.


message 11: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I have never read about the recce missions either Mike, that's why it sparked an interest in Turkey, some very interesting information above.


message 12: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments Backing up a bit, I thought the scene of Pavel Antokolsky with his son at the Moscow Station was so moving. It is what I was looking for, making the connection that these people are no different from us. Bringing the tragedy of 2.7M soldiers lost in less than a year down to a personal level. I am reading Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945 at the same time and these two books complement each other nicely.


message 13: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments A very profound statement by General Zhukov on page 47:

(view spoiler)


message 14: by A.L. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I appreciated this sentence from the author, setting out the basis of the book, from the Preface (page xvi):

But the achievement remains a heroic one nonetheless. Between brittle Soviet propaganda..."


Reading the preface made me glad we're reading this book. I've been guilty of oversimplifying the eastern front into two huge empires led by evil men trying to destroy each other. I'm looking forward to getting more of the human side to the Red Army.

Thank you for posting the pictures and the info on Turkey.


message 15: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments Glad you mentioned that scene Mike, it was very good how the author has introduced a human element into what we know is going to be one of the most inhuman conflicts in the 20th century.

Reading Armageddon with this book will be a very interesting experience Mike.


message 16: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments A.L. wrote: "I've been guilty of oversimplifying the eastern front into two huge empires led by evil men trying to destroy each other. I'm looking forward to getting more of the human side to the Red Army...."

I associate myself with this too. So easy to oversimplify and also just classify the Soviet armies as "brutes". I like how Jones is approaching this.


message 17: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I suppose the interesting paradox is as you mentioned A.L. that we have two evil empires, both led by evil men but containing soldiers that were decent ordinary men fighting for their homelands.


message 18: by A.L. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments Mike wrote: "Backing up a bit, I thought the scene of Pavel Antokolsky with his son at the Moscow Station was so moving. It is what I was looking for, making the connection that these people are no different fr..."

I agree, Jones is doing a good job showing that common humanity we all have by showing the love of a father and a son.

It's heartbreaking to read things like this: (view spoiler) and then to think of it happening millions of times over.

I read somewhere (I think in The Last Battle The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin by Cornelius Ryan ) that there wasn't a system in place to tell next-of-kin when soldiers were killed. If they were lucky, a friend would send the news. If they were members of the Communist Party, the Party would notify their loved ones. Before major campaigns, there were lots of new party recruits


message 19: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments At the end of the battle of Stalingrad, Jones attributes the success in large degree to patriotism and love of the motherland by the soldiers. I think he oversells that a little bit, at the expense of other factors.


message 20: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Feb 11, 2013 10:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I tend to agree with you there Mike. There were still a lot of threats (punishment battalions) and summary executions in the Red Army to help motivate their soldiers.

Although on reading these statistics on page 57 you have to think that something more than just plain intimidation & threats was motivating these men at times:

(view spoiler)


message 21: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments On finishing the chapter on Stalingrad I'm keen to find something on Marshal Vasil Chuikov, maybe this book:


The Battle For Stalingrad by V.I. Chuikov by V.I. Chuikov


message 22: by Tytti (new)

Tytti | 140 comments Mike wrote: "I think I've heard somewhere that the Putin regime is closing off access to historical records again. If so, more heroes will be lost to history."

I think it's been going on for some time already. Also in many other aspects Russia is becoming more... totalitarian(?) and of course Putin is again the president. By the way, they just showed a new series in TV about the Winter War and it left unclear who fired the Mainila shots because "they don't know and the archives don't tell". It also links Nazis with Winter War. "It could have been true..."


message 23: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "On finishing the chapter on Stalingrad I'm keen to find something on Marshal Vasil Chuikov, maybe this book:"

I will join you if I find the book. Chuikov is the stand-out in that battle for me too.


message 24: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new) - rated it 4 stars

Geevee | 3796 comments Will hopefully join this read but my library copy was due back on 11th and is not back yet :(


message 25: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments That's a bummer Geevee, the thread will be open for some time and I'll be keen to hear what you think of the book once you get started.


message 26: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Feb 12, 2013 06:27PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments This made some interesting reading, from page 62, female Russian snipers were a deadly bunch:

(view spoiler)

Interesting link to Russian female snipers of WW2:

http://englishrussia.com/2012/03/08/o...

Top 20 female Russian snipers of WW2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFSzK1...


message 27: by A.L. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments Geevee, I hope the book makes it back to the library soon!

Rick, I agree. Those Russian women were impressive.

I just read about the battle of Kurst. I knew it was a big tank battle, but I'm blow away by the huge numbers of men and tanks (both those involved and those killed or destroyed).


message 28: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments I think this captures Mr. Jones' book theme well:

By early 1944 Russia was winning the war against Nazi Germany. Under the stress of intensive campaigning, and influenced by an ideology that emphasized the collective good above the welfare of the individual, it is clear that the Soviet Union needlessly threw away the lives of many of its soldiers. These men and women were not fighting as part of a robotic mass, however. Red Army soldiers’ voices testify to the desperate pain felt over the loss of each individual life.


message 29: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments I am very impressed with the accounts of women in the front lines of battle. The sniper units are especially brave. And probably a good niche where the women could excel. Yet they did not always get respect:

(view spoiler)


message 30: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "This made some interesting reading, from page 62, female Russian snipers were a deadly bunch:..."

Love how she called the men out in Chicago!


message 31: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments Mike wrote: "I think this captures Mr. Jones' book theme well:

By early 1944 Russia was winning the war against Nazi Germany. Under the stress of intensive campaigning, and influenced by an ideology that empha..."


Excellent quote from the book Mike, it does capture the essence of the book.


message 32: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Feb 12, 2013 09:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I liked Zhukov’s description of the German Tiger Tanks on page 87:

(view spoiler)


Tiger 1 on the Russian Front:
description


message 33: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (last edited Feb 13, 2013 07:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments The perils of a newspaper editor. Ole Joe Stalin didn't have much of a sense of humor:

(view spoiler)


message 34: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments That was a funny story (sort of). Poor bastard, wonder what happened to him in the penal battalion?


message 35: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments From pages 106-107, sounds like the typical Russian attack that we have all read about in many German accounts:

(view spoiler)


message 36: by A.L. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments Mike wrote: "I am very impressed with the accounts of women in the front lines of battle. The sniper units are especially brave. And probably a good niche where the women could excel. Yet they did not always ge..."

One of the things I love about most war books it the comradery and brotherhood that you see develop between people stuck together in difficult circumstances like combat (the ‘band of brothers’ thing). For those women to be denied that and be insulted instead is tragic. Glad they weren’t in that company long.


message 37: by A.L. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "From pages 106-107, sounds like the typical Russian attack that we have all read about in many German accounts:

Soviet private Mikhail Kuznetsov of the 367th Artillery Battalion remembered the uni..."


That is sad, and one of the things Jones is showing well in this book--the "men are cannon fodder" mind-set in the Red Army and the slow efforts to change it. I feel bad for those men--the Germans think they're subhuman and their own officers don't seem to care much about them either. I want to slap officers like that and tell them "men are not like bullets, so stop treating them like all your other equipment that can be replaced in a factory, and stop wasting them. They are human beings, and someone at home is waiting and hoping they'll come back." (Obviously, I wouldn’t have done well in the Red Army.)


message 38: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments Hi A.L.

Yep, you would have ended up in some penal battalion somewhere on the front with thoughts like that :)


message 39: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments The figures on page 123 on the number of females who served in the Russian army is quite substanial:

(view spoiler)

I wonder did they have different issues to the men when trying to re-settle back into their community after the war?


message 40: by Geevee, Assisting Moderator British & Commonwealth Forces (new) - rated it 4 stars

Geevee | 3796 comments It's a fascinating area and I wonder if there is a book wriiten in the English language that would give more detail on the women of the Red army?

The society that governed and educated them, the harsh lives(I suppose for the majority?) they lived, the situation within the country through the war including the Red Army's organisation and needs, and of course the personal stories of family and indeed loss would all play a interesting part in how the women were trained and carried out their duties.


message 41: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I know of a few books written by Russian female soldiers, I will try and remember their titles and post the details however here is some interesting reading:

http://www.historynet.com/women-warri...


message 42: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Feb 13, 2013 02:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments Here are a few interesting books covering female soldiers in the Russian army during WW2:


Soviet Women in Combat A History of Violence on the Eastern Front by Anna Krylova by Anna Krylova

A Dance with Death Soviet Airwomen in World War II by Anne Noggle by Anne Noggle

On the Road to Stalingrad Memoirs of a Woman Machine Gunner by Zoya Matveyevna Smirnova-Medvedeva by Zoya Matveyevna Smirnova-Medvedeva

Women in War and Resistance Selected Biographies of Soviet Women Soldiers by Kazimiera Janina Cottam by Kazimiera Janina Cottam

Defending Leningrad Women Behind Enemy Lines by Kazimiera Janina Cottam by Kazimiera Janina Cottam


message 43: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments How are others going with this book, enjoying, if that is the right word, the story so far?


message 44: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments I must confess to not having read about the 'special' camps the Germans set up in Army Group Centre's area of operations in 1944, from page 136 onwards:

"But in February 1944, Army Group centre planned a very different evacuation strategy, one in which civilians were not removed from the fighting, but placed in camps directly in the military zone."

On page 140:

"The number of survivors was carefully inventoried. On 16 March Hossbach reported to the German Ninth Army: 'We have already assembled some 39,597 civilians - of whom many thousands are little children'."

Then on page 141:

"By 17 March over 47,000 civilians were inside the camps. Convoys of vehicles began to draw up outside the fences, and seriously ill hospital patients were carried out and interspersed among the prisoners. Thousands of people began to fall ill. The camp surrounds were mined, and the Wehrmacht troops withdrew further west. They waited for their Red Army opponents to discover them."

I don't think I have read about this episode before, has anyone else?


message 45: by A.L. (new) - rated it 4 stars

A.L. Sowards | 500 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I must confess to not having read about the 'special' camps the Germans set up in Army Group Centre's area of operations in 1944, from page 136 onwards:

"But in February 1944, Army Group centre pl..."


That's new for me too, Rick. I am enjoying the book--but I'm still back in chapter 5!


message 46: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 16980 comments The good news A.L. is that the book only gets better :)


message 47: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I must confess to not having read about the 'special' camps the Germans set up in Army Group Centre's area of operations in 1944, from page 136 onwards..."

It was a completely new atrocity of the war for me too. It really makes the case that the average Wehrmacht unit was just as complicit in war crimes as the special units are.


happy (happyone) | 2203 comments I am enjoying the book - I like Mr. Jones' writing style. It has been a quick read so far - I'm about 100 pges in.


message 49: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments One strength of the book is following certain soldiers through the war. Here is one story about Lt Berisov that is humorous in a black comedy way:

(view spoiler)


message 50: by Mike, Assisting Moderator US Forces (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mike | 2806 comments Finished. Excellent book all the way to the end. The second theme of the book is painting a more honest picture of the Soviet army, its cruelty and attempts by some to be more careful employing the soldiers in the final assault on Germany. For years, the soldiers had been urged to wreak vengeance on the Germans.

(view spoiler)


The will of the Germans to resist was increased when the Soviet atrocities were revealed. The Soviets tried to instill discipline, but not before many awful incidents occurred. But many soldiers did not join in the wanton destruction and crimes, even though they had plenty of reasons to do so:

(view spoiler)


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