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In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies) Paperback – June 7, 2000


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In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies) + 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
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; New edition edition (June 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700611223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700611225
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Firsthand perspectives of German WWII infantrymen are rare, as respected historian Dennis Showalter (Tannenberg: Clash of Empires) points out in his excellent introduction. Bidermann, who is an 18-year-old private in the 132d Infantry Division at the beginning of this memoir, takes us through the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, passage across the Dnieper and southern steppes, battles in the Crimea, engagements in northern Russia and retreat through Riga to the Baltic. He retrospectively reviews historical records and sketches the daily happenings and ambience of his unit in a matter-of-fact and unpretentious--yet invariably proud--tone. The translation is direct and generally graceful, sometimes lyrical. Retired Navy SEAL Zumbro, who has translated German accounts for the Eisenhower Center of the University of New Orleans, has translated and expanded Bidermann's 1964 private German publication, utilizing the same preserved documents and retrospective interviews from other members of the 132d. Before war's end, the unit was cut off in Courland, though Bidermann claims it was "never defeated in open battle." After surrender in 1945, the remnants of the division were held in extended captivity. The Wehrmacht subculture, which Bidermann describes but does not connect back to the Reich's atrocities, was compulsively "professional," with loyalty to fellows its all-consuming central ethic. This ethic seemingly sustained these soldiers through continual dire peril of body and soul. Some did survive. B&W photos. History Book Club selection.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

A fantastical well written book.
Richard J. Duhe
I have only read 1/2 of this book and find it hard to put down.
John Armstrong
This is one of the best books on the subject I have read.
Mark Rollins

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

216 of 223 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on May 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Firstly, before launching yourself into this excellent book please take the time to read the introduction by Dennis Showalter as it will help explain the style of writing to be found in this book. The book was originally written for the survivors of Bidermann's regiment and division, not for the general public. Bearing this in mind you will have a better understanding and feeling for the author's account of his experience of fighting on the Eastern Front during WW2. At times you might find the narrative old fashioned and even cliched but this is definitely not the case, it has to be taken in context of when and why this book was first written.
This is a great story, on par if not better than Guy Sajer's `Forgotten Soldier'. This is a combination of a combat history of the 132nd Infantry Division and the author's role and experiences in the fighting on the Eastern Front. The author, Gottlob Herbert Bidermann, won two Iron Crosses, the Crimea Shield, the Close Combat Badge, the German Cross in Gold, the Gold Wound Badge (wounded five times), the Honour Roll Clasp and the Tank Destruction Badge. What is remarkable is that the author survived five years of combat on the Russian Front fighting in Crimea, Leningrad and later in the Courland Pocket. I found his stories about his early years fighting with an anti-tank section using the Pak 37 "doorknocker" very interesting, I had always believed these weapons to be next to useless on the Russian Front however I was surprised.
You can trace the change in the author from a novice who still cared about human beings, even his enemy to one whom has been brutalised by warfare to a point past indifference to death and destruction.
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88 of 91 people found the following review helpful By E. E Pofahl on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Much has been written about the Wehrmacht, discussing strategies, campaigns, results and commanders; less has been written about the common German soldier in W.W.II. In this
extraordinary book, Gottlob H. Bidermann narrates his experience in the 132 Infantry Division on
the Eastern Front from June 1941 to May 1945 followed by surrender and internment in Russia
until the summer of 1948. He was commissioned and received officer training in 1943 but
continued to be assigned to the 132 Infantry Division. Bidermann's memoirs were written for and
distributed to the survivors of his regiment and division, and originally were not for general
audiences. Derek S. Zumbro, a US Naval officer and friend of the Bidermann family, was given a
copy of his memoir in 1985 by Bidermann which Zumbro translated; the memoirs were published
as the book IN DEADLY COMBAT.
The text is basically an accurate chronology of the events Bidermann personally experienced on
the Eastern Front. Daily death, suffering and destruction was encountered and the author states
"We tended our wounded, buried our dead and moved forward to the next encounter, knowing
that eventually, we would meet the end of our journey". He later notes "Most of us owed our
lives to the skill and self-sacrifice of other in our company, many of whom were no longer with
us."
It is interesting to read the author's personal reactions to brutal combat. He relates how his
training and discipline gave him life saving split second reactions when face to face with the
enemy. While generally not critical of German combat general officers, many of whom he
admired, like the common soldier in all armies he "called it like was".
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on June 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a very interesting and quite different approach to experiencing the events of the second world war. It is interesting in the fact that it tells the story of a German Division from the perspective of the members of the Division, and does so primarily for the benefit of those members rather than for the public at large. So, this then is a fascinating if somewhat oddly focused study of the war along the eastern front from the viewpoint of the German foot soldier.
It is often frightening and revealing, especially when one considers the fact that the author actually survived over five years of combat. So, although the writing style is a bit stiff and belabored, it is well worth the effort. This is the story of an "average" foot soldier involved up to his muddy ankles in the most outrageous and provocative battles in modern history. This is truly a story for the record books, one told with honesty (at least from the author's perspective), and one deserving of your time and study. Imagine slogging through the heat and rain and mud and snow and ice of the campaign into and then through Poland and Russia, and retracing mile by mile, yard by yard, foot by foot as the Russians relentlessly push the 200 divisions of the German Army slowly and painfully back from all of the gains, inflicting murderous tolls along the way. The portrait given is one revealing the levels of hardship, depravations, depravities, and extreme experiences of a common soldier involved in the most terrible and hard-fought campaign of World War Two, Operation Barbarossa.
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