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Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjäger on the Eastern Front, 1941-43 Hardcover – November 30, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 136 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“…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)

“…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)

“…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)

“..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,)

“…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)

“Put simply…this is one of the best accounts of war by an ordinary soldier...” (Model Armour.com)

“The editors are in fact the grandchildren of the author of these diaries (Hans Rooth) who was in the 299th infantry Division’s anti tank battalion. Unable and unwilling to describe the horrors of the Eastern Front in his letters home to his wife, he committed them to these diary journals. He went missing in action in t he summer of 1944 and has no known grave… a harrowing yet poignant story of an ordinary soldier caught up in the worst that war can bring. There is not much in the way of technical or tactical detail and it makes for pretty grim reading at times, but it appears to portray well the day to day emotions and experiences of this dreadful conflict (Miniature Wargames)

“With all the bias, rightness and wrongness of real life, and written in “real time”, this book accurately describes the impressions and experiences of everyday life and combat in the Russian steppes. It will not help you with your next scale model project or diorama. But it will give you a priceless insight into the people who lived and died by the equipment and groundwork that you will be modeling. Recommended to all history aficionados and modelers. (IPMS)

The book is spectacular. Hans Roth provided a wonderful service for his family and future generations by recording what he witnessed and what he was ordered to do. You can feel the fear he felt. You can sense the mixed emotions he experienced. The day to day log of his units actions with his understanding of what was going on are amazing. The detail and description he provides of the surroundings paints a remarkable portrait of the times...an important resource for anyone interested in the Eastern Front as well as those who want a realistic look at the terrors of war. It is gripping and paints one of the clearest pictures ever of how war is horrendous. (Kepler's Military History)

It is quite often the case that the only accounts of first and second world war that we get to read are written by our own side. It is more likely that, were we wanting to read about the horrors of the WWII Eastern Front, we would turn to an account written by an Englishman or an American. Publisher Casemate specialises in bringing out books that tell the stories of all parties involved, and this collection of journal entries belonging to a German "Panzerjager", a member of the elite Wehrmacht, whose job it was to hunt down and destroy tanks belonging to the allies, provides an altogether different perspective on the various campaigns. An important part of the history of WWII that should not be overlooked, and should appeal to all students of 20th century warfare. (Books Monthly) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Christine Alexander and Mason Kunze are the grandchildren of Hans Roth, through whom the translation and background information of these journals has been made possible. Christine currently lives in North Carolina and Mason resides in California.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Casemate Pub; First Edition edition (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935149474
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935149477
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,203,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've read a lot of the English language literature on the Eastern Front. In my opinion this is one of the most incredible books on the topic, especially because it goes day by day for substantial parts of the first two years. He is particularly good at describing the settings, the repeated role of luck in his survival, and the endless Russian assaults he had to endure. Although I've read about many of the combat events he describes, I can't recall reading about so many in one source. For example, his reports of daily strafings and massed Russian assualts is something I have normally associated with 1942 and 1943 in many accounts, yet he describes them happening repeatedly in the summer of 1941. One can also detect his exhaustion and disillusionment with the war growing over time, because by 1943 he often fails to provide dates for his description of events--something that naturally happens after many months of just trying to survive the "eastern inferno."

This is one of those rare WW2 books, much like Guy Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier, that will stick with you long after you have finished reading it.
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Format: Hardcover
First, full disclosure: Christine Alexander is my brother Frank's wife.

I am a huge WWII history buff, so when Christine and her brother Mason offered me an early look at the journal translations in the fall of 2009, I was thrilled.

The journal is both remarkable in its specificity and appalling in its overarching picture of unrelenting savagery. Although Germany started this war by violating its 1941 peace treaty with the Soviet Union and invading, and has been appropriately condemned in courts both legal and historical, there simply were no good guys in this war.

In one anecdote, the Soviets, to cite just two of the author's accounts, marched their own hospital patients at gunpoint through German minefields to detonate the mines, thus minimizing *military* casualties before attacking the German position. In another, the Germans execute several young Soviet partisans, including teenage girls, whose family members were being held hostage by the Soviets and threatened with death if they did not strike against the Germans -- and if they did not return. The author reports that he and his comrades, combat veterans ("front hogs") though they were, were severely shaken by this event: They were used to killing, and they knew, rationally, that partisans who weren't executed would only live again to detonate an explosive device under their vehicles or slit a sentry's throat. But shooting down teenage girls in cold blood was NOT what they had signed up for.

I don't know how common first-person accounts such as this of fighting on the Eastern Front are, but I can't imagine they're plentiful. For one thing, millions upon millions of participants died, and most of those who survived did so with barely the clothes on their backs.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sometimes history is presented in such a general manner that end results often overshadow the reality of events that lead to those results; this often leads to misperceptions, dare I say "myths", regarding what really happened. World War II is rife with such generalizations, especially the conflict between Germany and the Soviet Union, where four bitter years of brutality are often summarized in only a few sentences. But, occasionally, a lone voice emerges that can provide an honest and refreshing view of events and even contradict popular belief by providing a first-hand, moment-by-moment account of events as they happened ... EASTERN INFERNO is such an example.

As the men and women who survived World War II rapidly vanish from the world's population, new information, stories and details of the war continues to flow at an exponential rate. Christine Alexander and Mason Kunze have published three (of possibly four) volumes of their grandfather Hans Roth's wartime journal. Roth, a German soldier (specifically an anti-tank soldier) who participated in the war on the Eastern Front from the initial German invasion of the Soviet Union through the retreat from Stalingrad, provides a unique perspective of those early days of the conflict. Unflinching and brutal at times, the journal sheds new light on the initial months of the "war in the East" by contradicting the ease of the German advance into the Soviet Union. Roth also conveys the deplorable conditions in which the war was fought, the atrocities committed by both sides of the conflict, the unfathomable destruction of life and material, the filth and the miserable weather.
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I received this book as a Christmas present and started to read it on that day. I have read many other German WWII firsthand accounts and this is one of the best next to the Forgotten Soldier! Just to have several journals of a German soldier on the Eastern Front and writing his thoughts down right after a day's fighting, sitting in a Russian hut and describing the family that lives there, the vastness of Russia and the cold winters they had to suffer through is just thought moving. He also describes the brutality of the Russians/partisans (terrorists), even to their own soldiers and murdering their own civilians as the Germans captured a town/city. This man was a professional soldier and loyal to Germany, his comrades and family. The only thing that was a little disappointing was that you do not get to know anyone else in his platoon until they were killed or wounded in action that is the only time he mentions them. This book almost puts you right there! A must for re-enactors or just history buffs of the Eastern Front!
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