Customer Reviews: Panzer Warfare on the Eastern Front
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on May 4, 2012
Mr Schaufler has edited a nice verbal history of the war in the east. The story begins with the Germans crossing the Bug River in June 1941 and ends with the fall of Danzig at the end of the war. It excludes the fall of Berlin. The panzer divisions covered are the 4th, 9th, 11th, 16th, and 18th. There are many other divisions mention on an incidental level. Since the author was a member of the 35th PzR of 4th PzD, the 4th PzD dominates the entire book while the other divisions are covered in two or three engagements each. There were many areas covered but Operation Barbarossa and the Soviet counter offensive in December 41 is prominent and includes coverage of the 4th, 9th 11th and 18th divisions. The other major engagement covered would be the defense of Danzig at the end of the war. Other areas covered include Mtzensk, Gzhatsk, Stalingrad, Kursk, Orel among others. My favorite would be the coverage of 16th PzD during the reduction of the pocket of Stalingrad but the siege of Danzig was also good and I was able to learn some new things.

Accumulating a wealth of primary information like divisional and regimental war logs, personal diaries and interviews during his lifetime, the author has weaved together a creditable war history. It's a verbal history by tankers and foot soldiers. Its personal and tactical; you won't see the strategic, the big picture brought to you by the upper echelons of command. Its also almost entirely from the German perspective; there is little specific Soviet information but the author doesn't pull any punches and presents what the men felt and said. Acts of bravery are of course mentioned as well.

The author shows the hardships of fighting the war in Russia, not only fighting an endless pool of relentless enemy soldiers and partisans but also the freezing, snowy conditions in winter, the deep muddy swamps that the dirt roads turn into after a heavy rain as well as the endless steppes you have to travel when you're low on fuel. The book is almost evenly divided between the fighting of the enemy and surviving the elements. Much is said about surviving the sub-zero temperatures for man, horse or machine.

There are a few hand drawn maps and a lot of good photos though some are quite gruesome. An appendix with OBs of the above panzer divisions including command history is provided but there are no Notes, Bibliography or Index.

The author has also published "Knight's Cross Panzers", a book on the 35th PzR of 4th ID and would make good supplemental reading as well though there is some duplication between the two books.

This is an interesting read though its not comprehensive or strategic and its one sided but there are many small skirmishes mentioned that I've never heard of and for that reason alone I enjoyed the book but I enjoyed it even more by reading about the deeds and thoughts of the Landser as they try to survive an impossible war.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon August 20, 2012
A Russian woman having a difficult labor goes to the Germans to see a doctor. Later the Germans steal a cow for the baby's milk. During the night a Partisan leader gives the German officer a password and allows the Germans to withdraw peacefully. Months later the officer and his injured driver are allowed to walk away from an ambush when he repeats the password.

British POWs liberated by the Russians offer to join the Germans and even fight against the Russians to avoid falling into Russian hands. Just a couple of the surprising accounts in the book.

Beginning with June, 1941 these stories take you along with the Panzer tanks as they invade Russia, stall out before Moscow, then fight in Stalingrad and Kursk, and are finally driven back to Prussia in 1945. The daily ordeals, comic situations, terrifying combat, and the emotional roller coaster of the individual soldiers are told in their personal diaries.

The troops are shocked when they first encounter T-34s and their shells just bounce off. Yet later they destroyed 68 Russian tanks without a loss. The German radios in the tanks are the key to coordinating attacks.

On Oct. 10 the first Russian snow falls. German soldiers lose confidence when their equipment won't function in the cold. And they destroy a lot of their own equipment due to lack of fuel.

Live the terror of winter combat and repeated breakouts from being surrounded- outgunned and outmanned. Starting at page 227 the 1945 fight for Prussia and the mass flight of civilians and surviving soldiers is recounted. Additional stories are in "Battleground Prussia 1945" and "U-boat Adventures: Firsthand Accounts from World War II."

The stories are compelling and emotional. You will be glad you never had to face the hopelessness of these situations. Western history does not include most of what you will read about in this book. And combat statistics accompanying generalizations about the Eastern Front barely touch on the daily life of the humans involved. Although ultimately victorious, the Red Army suffered through the same situations. Peaks at the courage and rare instances of humanity shown by both sides will leave a permanent impression on you.
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This is one of the best books i've read on the Eastern front battles during WW2. Rather than focusing on one soldier, this book tells of many of the fighting men in rather short, concise, action-packed stories. The author makes the reader feel as though they were trudging through the snow and fighting to keep their weapons from freezing in the sub-sub zero cold, along with them. The German armor was quickly matched by the Russian T-34 and anti-tank guns yet time after time the Panzers stopped their advance, inflicting huge losses on the attackers. As in most books of the eastern front, one of the stories tell of the men and women of the Sixth Army caught in the Stalingrad fiasco as Goering tried to supply them by air as the Russians surrounded them. I highly recommend this book.
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on January 3, 2013
Schaulfler was a Communications Platoon Leader on the Eastern Front and his recollections of the fighting come from his experiences running a comm platoon. It is very interesting hearing how the combat support units operated in a very fluid and dangerous environment. His vignettes on the daily life of the troops are fascinating. In one particular recollection he recounts what it was like from the lower ranks to realize that your division has been encircled by the Russians and the thoughts and conversations among the troops of foreboding and danger. It is great reading. The book is divided into small, 4-5 page, vignettes that allow the reader to look into the life of the troops in the field. Much of it revolves around the fighting but in this case, it focusing on how the comm guys continue to lay wire in the face of artillery barrages and armored warfare. Stackpole didn't spend any more money than they had to on publishing this book and the picture quality suffers due to the poor grade of paper. For someone who knows something of the war on the Eastern Front this is a great read. It really does offer the reader a completely different perspective than they would normally get.
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on January 3, 2014
This is not the "typical" history book that I thought I was getting. Instead, it is a collection of first hand accounts, mostly from personal diaries and written accounts. Many of the stories are incredible, interesting, and refreshingly "personal." Many years ago (when I was a boy) I knew a man by the name of Fritz, and he could tell some of the most incredible stories from the Eastern Front. Reading these stories reminds me of some of the things he would tell. Putting politics aside, it gives a very rare look at the everyday "human" aspect of the men that did the fighting and dying on the German side. It also shows what a complete waste that war was with the millions of dead littering the entire Russian steppe, both friend and foe alike. This is one of those books that lingers in your mind for several days after you've finished it.
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on May 11, 2014
I had no trouble getting into this book, which contains wonderful, personal accounts of the German Panzer brigades' war on the Eastern Front in WW2. Putting aside any misgivings about the rights and wrongs of invading Russia in the first place, (without antifreeze!!?), these stories are very human narratives from ordinary German soldiers who had to bear the brunt of this titanic struggle. You quickly get some idea of the brutal and debilitating nature of the conflict with vivid descriptions of attacks, taking casualties, dealing with the appalling Russian winters in inadequate clothes and the sheer scale of the conflict, fighting on a 2,000 mile front, trying to get tank engines started on a morning when it's minus 50 degrees and you're freezing and hungry, crawling with lice. If you're not affected, you have a stone for a heart.
There's humour too, the soldiers last defence against despair and rock-bottom morale.
It doesn't lose sight of the Russian people either and their grievous suffering as their country was torn apart on the whim of a madman who had the example of Napoleon's demise with his Grand Armee before him, but ignored the lessons of history.
I'd recommend this book, not just to war buffs or historians, but to anyone who finds the indominitable human spirit and our capacity for suffering fascinating reading.
Strongly recommended. The copy editing is a little rough in places, ('drug' is the past tense of 'to drag'?!!!!!) but this gives the voices a realism and authenticity.
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on October 15, 2014
My uncle was there and in a unit very similiar to the ones in this book. What the American people do not know, of course they do not care nowadays, is that when the American Army confronted the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS in battle in Italy or France, 60% of the Wehrmacht and 70% of the Waffen SS, was in Russia. Also, the German Forces were outnumbered in the Eastern Front 6 to 1, and in the Western Front, they were outnumbered 7 to 1. Little Germany was fighting, in 1944, all of Britain and its Commonwealth countries, the United States, the Soviet Union, and what was left of Free France and some units even from Poland, all at once. Victory for the allies was not as a big deal as they would have you think.
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on April 18, 2014
This book is varied. Some of the first hand accounts are merely a boring listing of what a unit did, while other accounts are full of the details of war from a very personal perspective. Some of the writers were so close to death that their survival was sometimes a matter of freak luck.
Because the accounts vary so much, from the boring to interesting, I am only awarding three stars. However if the German war in the East is an interest of yours then I recommend you buy this book.
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on December 13, 2014
Unusually smooth translation and narrative of personal experiences on the Eastern Front. One reviewer opines that Stackpole cheaped out on this book resulting in grainy illustrations. On the contrary, I think there is much more care exhibited in the layout and type setting of this book than in many of it's ilk. The pictures are generic and don't add to the story which is typical. If you are reading this book you already have better sources of illustration.

This book has as funny a military vignette as will be found anywhere. Real Private Hargrove stuff.
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on July 22, 2013
The book had some good experiences on the Eastern front if that word good can be used. It was mostly by people on foot. It was disappointing that more of the book was not directly written about happenings in AFV's. I did not expect necessarily combat, but did expect the day to day aspects of keeping those vehicles relating to supply, repair, and movement.
I am glad to have the book in my WW II Library. John
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