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Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS Paperback – July, 2002

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Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS + Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front + The Forgotten Soldier
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The Aberjona Press (July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966638980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966638981
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"A fascinating and unique contribution to our knowledge of the Waffen-SS...[and] the German armed forces...Highly recommended." -- The Journal of Military History, July 2003

"A strong description of a young man's burning idealism to serve his country and how this idealism is later shattered." -- Swedish State Institute for Living History, August 2005

"Highly recommended...complements Into the Mountains Dark and The Good Soldier." -- Armchair General Magazine, September 2005

"Highly valuable because of its grass-roots perspective of the war and the Third Reich." -- Svenska Dagbladet (“Swedish Daily Newspaper”), 2 June 2004

"[This book possesses] an authenticity lacking in works written—and also adjusted—long after the war." -- Gefle Dagblad ("Gefle [Sweden] Daily Newspaper"), 21 June 2004

About the Author

The author is a loyal member of his division’s veterans’ group, and his bona fides are impeccable. Before The Aberjona Press published this book, to the extent possible, his accounts of action, especially against the US Army, were vetted against primary sources in the National Archives, by examination of unit histories, and by interviews with American veterans who fought against the author’s unit. Extensive research has been carried out by LTC Hugh Foster, US Army (Ret.) with hundreds of American survivors of the author’s regiment’s savage battle against them at Reipertswiller, Alsace, in January 1945. The author’s recollections are completely supported by the available evidence. He has produced that rarest of memoirs, one that is untainted by gross hindsight or recast to fit later interpretations.

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Customer Reviews

An amazing book which is very well and thoughtfully written.
Black Edelweiss is truly a superb book which details the fighting conditions in northern Finland that the 6th Waffen-SS Mountain Division Nord experienced.
Jeffrey D. Leach
I found once I started reading it was difficult to put the book aside.
Dale Bowlin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

293 of 305 people found the following review helpful By Dale Bowlin on August 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
A few years ago while touring our WWII battlefields in the Vosges Mountains of Eastern France with members of my 70th Infantry Division Association, my wife and I met the author. Since that first meeting we have had the opportunity to exchange both our recollections of and our thoughts during those dark days. At the US Military Cemetery in St. Avold I have stood next to the author as he placed flowers by our Association's memorial wreath. I have listened to his words as he shared his feelings with our group of veterans on tour in Saarbrucken, the large German city we captured in March 1945. I have felt the anguish in his mind as he described becoming aware of the horrors that the Nazis and some of his fellow Waffen SS comrades had committed in the concentration camps.
And the author has listened to my story of being ambushed and captured, then wounded by artillery shrapnel, and surviving a severed artery because a German soldier risked his life while carrying me unconscious to medical aid.
As I read the fascinating Black Edelweiss I found myself frequently comparing my situation as a 17 year old youth in rural Kansas with the author's thoughts and activities halfway around the world. Black Edelweiss has given me a new perspective on both the German military and the citizens of Germany during the early `40s.
I found once I started reading it was difficult to put the book aside.
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305 of 329 people found the following review helpful By seydlitz89 on October 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
As noted in the other reviews, this is one of the best war memoirs around, perhaps the best German memoir of WWII. Unlike so many other accounts written only years after the fact, Black Edelweiss was penned within the first years after the war and not originally meant for publication. I suspect the author, with a strong sense of family, wanted to have something to present to his decedents, something that he had completed as a young man still with the full emotion and confusion of the initial bewildering and catastrophic events that were the fate of his generation.
This memoir is interesting on a variety of levels. One is the account of mountain infantry training the author received as a young volunteer for the Waffen SS. Far from politically indoctrinated fanatics, we see an elite military organization preparing men for combat in modern war. I suspect that the emphasis on political and racial indoctrination was more a product of the pre-war years, when the Waffen SS was seen as a force against potential enemies within the Reich, not after say 1941 when large numbers of new replacements were needed to man an expanding number of divisions fighting in foreign theaters of operations. That and the fact that many foreign volunteers, some from ethnic groups lower on the SS pecking order, where filling the ranks of these formations as well. The emphasis went from "elite order of racial Uebermenschen" to "cadre of the common European struggle against Bolshevism". This latter attitude is mentioned by the author numerous times and obviously was one of his main reasons for joining the organization.
On another level is the sociological perspective of various views common among Germans during 1941-3. He sees his own class in school as divided between the idealists and the pragmatists.
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108 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Mannie Liscum on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Black Edelweiss is a rare example of a personal WWII memoir written soon after the events (most of the draft was written while the author was a POW during 1945-46) with the emotional and historical breadth of a book written from a much greater distance of time and utilizing a variety of non-personal references. Johann Voss (a pseudonym) has put his life in the SS-Mountain Infantry Regiment 11 (given the name �Reinhard Heydrich� in 1942) to paper in a way that the reader can truly assess the actions of a single soldier, his immediate platoon members and larger Regimental force rationally without the baggage of bias. This is not to say that the author has created a typical post-war apologetic piece that draws empathy/sympathy from the reader. Rather, Voss draws the reader along in an honest forthright story of his experiences as a loyal soldier within a larger group of comrades who, although fighting for the Hitler regime, did so with heart and passion for comrades, unit and country, but with clear chivalry (or at least as much as can fairly be expected in war) and battle fairness. It is the very nature of when this book was drafted (and little changed by the author later although published 60 odd years after being drafted) � while the author was still feeling connection to and pride of unit � that makes this NOT a typical Nazi apologia book. The book was however written at a time when the author was learning (second hand) about the atrocities of the Nazi regime and the SS structure more particularly, and as such the author is able to place his military experiences in perspective of the regime he served. This creates both an honest look at combat and the emotions invoked upon finding for what and whom he and friends served and died for. Emotion is raw and real in this book.Read more ›
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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful By James M. Hanson on August 24, 2002
Format: Paperback
It was with great anticipation that I awaited the publication of "Black Edelweiss." I was with Task Force Herren (the three infantry regiments of the 70th Infantry Division newly arrived in theater without artillery and logistical support) and moved into Northeastern France to face a growing threat there. We were attached to the 45th Infantry Division during the German operation "Nordwind," in which the author, Johann Voss, was a machine gun section leader in Regiment 11, 6th SS Mountain Division (Nord). That operation was Hitler's last campaign after the German failure in the Battle of the Bulge. The author's division was hurriedly brought to northeastern France t o participate in "Nordwind" without its heavy supporting weapons from its area of operations in Finland where it had been engaged for several years against the Soviet Army. Voss's descriptions of the combat actions against us in the Vosges provide an excellent complement to those of Wolf Zoepf, author of "7 Days in January," and a member of Voss' sister Regiment 12. Voss was captured by American forces and and held for two years. During his captivity, he was assigned for a time to work for a U.S Army Judge Advocate Generals Corps officer where he had access to extensive factual documentation of the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes, and had finally to face and accept reality of the destruction of his boyhood dreams and the goals for his country as an infantry soldier.
His story opens in 1938 when the author was a young boy of 13. He is caught up in the hopes and fears of his parents and other elders; the nation's need for economic recovery, and a great fear of Bolshevism and the Soviet Union.
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