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Eyewitness to Hell
02-10-2016, 07:57 AM,
Eyewitness to Hell
Eyewitness to Hell: With the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front in World War 2
by author: Erich Stahl
ISBN: 9780982190739

Eyewitness to hell is Erich Stahl personal recollections of his time on the Eastern Front as a “journalist soldier”.  Attached to both the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and Wiking divisions the author recounts his time fighting in the south of the Ukraine and Russia, and also details his interactions with the Cossack population and others he meets during the German retreat. 
The book starts out well enough with the author seeing some combat, but the book then becomes a story of how much the Ukrainian population loved their liberators and how much they hate their Russian masters.  While this is fine, and believable, the combat ends and the book became filled with encounters of various types all of which are the same theme as above.  That the author, after 50 years, can remember exact conversations he had with the population is incredible, in fact in my belief it turns the book into one of fiction.
The atrocities committed on the Eastern Front are quickly glanced over with the author stating that while some units did commit them, he was not part of it nor witnessed it.  He does point out that the German government could have found itself with a million Ukrainian and Cossack reinforcements if it had treated the people decently, which is correct.  It is also pointed out that no “cleansing” was committed in the Urals and those people remained German allies to the end.
From the Ukraine the author retreated into Romania where once again we are treated to tens of pages of conversations he remembers having with various persons he met along the way.  A bright point is we do obtain a view of how the German army turned on itself, either outright shooting any soldier they thought was deserting, or forcing them into ad hoc units even if they possessed orders allowing them to be alone enroute to a destination.
Unfortunately, as previously stated, there is very little combat in this book which makes it more of a political book detailing how horrible the Russians were than being a combat memoir as the description states it is.  Very disappointed, I would have to say that unless political views are what you are after that this book deserves to pass.  I donated my copy to the Rotary club after reading it.

Goodreads rates this book a 3.8/5.  I would rate it a 2.

[Image: EWTH.jpg]

Some of us are busy doing things; some of us are busy complaining - Debasish Mridha

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