This book presents the remarkable personal journals of a German soldier who participated in Operation Barbarossa and subsequent battles on the Eastern Front, revealing the combat experience of the German-Russian War as seldom seen before.Hans Roth was a member of the anti-tank (Panzerjager) battalion, 299th Infantry Division, attached to Sixth Army, as the invasion of Russia began. Writing as events transpired, he recorded the mystery and tension as the Germans deployed on the Soviet frontier in June 1941. Then a firestorm broke loose as the Wehrmacht tore across the front, forging into the primitive vastness of the East. During the Kiev encirclement, Roth's unit was under constant attack as the Soviets desperately tried to break through the German ring. At one point, after the enemy had finally been beaten, a friend serving with the SS led him to a site where he witnessed civilians being massacred en masse (which may well have been Babi Yar). After suffering through a horrible winter against apparently endless Russian reserves, his division went on the offensive again, this time on the northern wing of "Case Gelb," the German drive toward Stalingrad.In these journals, attacks and counterattacks are described in "you are there" detail, as Roth wrote privately, as if to keep himself sane, knowing that his honest accounts of the horrors in the East could never pass through Wehrmacht censors. When the Soviet counteroffensive of winter 1942 begins, his unit is stationed alongside the Italian 8th Army, and his observations of its collapse, as opposed to the reaction of the German troops sent to stiffen its front, are of special fascination.Roth's three journals were discovered many years after his disappearance, tucked away in the home of his brother, with whom he was known to have had a deep bond. After his brother's death, his family discovered them and quickly sent them to Rosel, Roth's wife. In time, Rosel handed down the journals to Erika, Roth's only daughter, who had meantime immigrated to America.Hans Roth was doubtlessly working on a fourth journal before he was reported missing in action in July 1944 during the battle known as the Destruction of Army Group Center. Although Roth's ultimate fate remains unknown, what he did leave behind, now finally revealed, is an incredible firsthand account of the horrific war the Germans waged in Russia.
"...an enlightening window into what it was like to cope with all the elements that war can throw at you, clearly not a nice experience."Military Modeling, 1/2011"His observations of fighting are both blunt- Everything is Scheiss- and intelligent. ... describes the viciousness of the fighting..."Military Illustrated, 06/2011"...particularly important for two reasons. Unlike letters from the front, they were never seen by the German Army censors and so Roth was free to record his real feeling as the fighting continued. Second, because of Roth's untimely death in 1944 the journals weren't edited post-war, leaving them in their original raw state. As a result, we get a rare soldier's eye version of the fighting on a day-by-day basis. History of War, 05/2011"...remarkable personal journals...revealing the combat experience of the German Russian War as seldom seen before. Witness to unspeakable carnage at the front, this is a harrowing yet poignant story." Military Times, 06/2011"..without a doubt a unique account that offers many new insights and details which the author himself may have suppressed has he survived. It shows why the Eastern Front was totally different, the horrors kept from those at home..." Military Modelcraft International, 7/12/2011"...a very interesting book which gives you the human side of a man reluctantly sucked into a war...gives a glimpse into both the subtle influences of the Nazi State on its soldiers and attitudes..."Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, 09/2011"Put simply...this is one of the best accounts of war by an ordinary soldier..."Model Armour.com