- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Casemate Pub; First Edition edition (November 30, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1935149474
- ISBN-13: 978-1935149477
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 158 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #516,057 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjäger on the Eastern Front, 1941-43 Hardcover – December 14, 2010
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“…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)
“For those interested in aspects of combat on the Eastern Front (especially detailed scenes are depicted of the fighting for Kiev in 1941, Voronezh in 1942, and Orel in early 1943), the ‘holocaust by bullets’ that was perpetrated in the east, and the ‘daily life’ of soldiers and civilians (men and women on both counts), this is a must read.” (Kunikov’s Reviews)
“His observations of fighting are both blunt- Everything is Scheiss- and intelligent… describes the viciousness of the fighting…” (Military Illustrated)
“..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)
"…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 Modelling)
“…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)
“…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)
“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/USA)
About the Author
Christine Alexander specializes in military history.
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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This book is so perfect a memoir that it caused me to wonder whether its was all really true - or fiction. This proved to be the case with another powerful memoir of the Eastern Front "The Forgotten Soldier", which was later revealed to be fictitious. However, the accompany photographs and documents at the end lend great credibility to one of the best German Eastern Front memoirs I have ever read.
"Eastern Inferno" is highly recommended for anyone interested in infantry warfare on the Eastern Front, the German Wehrmacht, and the Red Army.
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. What the journals reveal are the inner thoughts of an ordinary German, not an ardent Nazi, who dutifully serves his country, but longs to be home with his wife and daughter.
EASTERN INFERNO is divided into three chapters and each chapter represents one volume of Hans Roth's journal. The journal entries are recorded daily with some days being more eventful, descriptive and involved while others are only a sentence or two of personal thoughts about his family. Roth's knack for detail sets an early tone for the book, allowing the reader to witness the life of the typical German soldier in those "heady" early days when the German blitzkrieg seemed unstoppable. It only took a few pages before I realized Roth had taken me alongside him on that hot and humid day in June 1941 with his descriptive journal entries ... and this is exactly the experience I want when reading about first-hand accounts. I could easily imagine the dust clouds created by moving vehicles sticking to the sweaty faces and hands of exhausted infantrymen moving to the front lines under the oppressive sun ... uncomfortable and miserable. Something else the reader will notice early-on is that this soldier's account of participating in the invasion of the Soviet Union does not necessarily jive with the broad, generic summary of events that commonly defines Operation Barbarossa. While the huge swaths of land consumed by the German military and the enormous tally of prisoners taken in the initial weeks/months are well-documented, Roth's experience at the front indicates the Soviet military put up a much more spirited fight than history typically generalizes. With continuing accounts of his comrades being killed or wounded, Roth even reveals a degree of respect toward the Soviet enemy for his tenacity ... as well as his skill. But beneath this begrudging respect reveals the underlying element of Nazi racial indoctrination in that he is shocked that the Russian "swine" could manage to fight as effectively as they could. An early account of witnessing an execution at the hands of the SS is recounted with relative indifference.
The journey that Roth takes the reader on is a brutal one filled with fear, death and misery and he meticulously details his observations in a manner that heightens the readers senses into what he actually experienced. The exuberant and optimistic tone present in the first third of the book dissipates as the war drags on and the tides shifts against Germany. Harassed by partisans that melt in and out of the forests and daily strafing attacks by Soviet planes (Ratas), the journal entries reflect a souring of optimism. As a brutal winter sets in, Roth's writings reveal that he and his comrades are a shell of their former selves ... the prior year's youthful enthusiasm is gone ... instead, the men are filthy, infested with lice and suffering from dysentery. Roth effectively describes this sense of despair he shares with his fellow soldiers as they squat in dingy panje huts to escape the deadly cold where the men turn to searching for and destroying lice as a game. Adding to the strain is that the enemy never stops attacking ... regardless of their losses. Roth even witnesses the Soviets murdering their own soldiers after retreating from a failed attack. A recurring theme in many of the journal entries is the gore and mass devastation he sees on a daily basis: his journey into Russia is a path filled with body parts, blood and decaying flesh of man and horses ... many, many horses.
Interspersed throughout his journal entries, Roth personally addresses his wife and daughter in what appears to be little moments of solace amid a world of death and destruction. There is no heroic action accounted for, no chest-thumping and no resounding political rhetoric that comes forth in his writing ... just a simple journal of what is seen and felt.
EASTERN INFERNO provides an amazing perspective of the average German infantryman's personal experience in Russia from the very beginning of the conflict ... as it happened. Roth's journal entries are vividly clear, informative and captivating. Hopefully, the publishing of this engaging journal will not only satiate those with a craving for history, but generate an interest in younger generations to learn more of about the brutal conflict between the Soviet Union and Germany.
Thanks Doc Rich