Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just 17-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticeship at the Glaser bakery in Memeler Strasse and walked into the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin as a raw, volunteer recruit.
On arrival at the Eastern Front in late summer 1941, Erwin was assigned to a frontline communications squad and soon discovered that survival was a matter of luck - or the protection of a guardian angel. Good fortune finally deserted Erwin on 11 July 1943 when shrapnel sizzled through his lung during the epic Battle of Kursk-Prokhorovka. Following a period of recovery, and promotion to Unterscharführer, Erwin took up a post as machine-gun instructor with the Ausbildung und Ersatz Bataillon.
From the war on the southern sector of the Eastern Front to a bomb-shattered Berlin populated largely by old men and demoralized lonely women, this candid eyewitness account offers a unique and sometimes surprising perspective on the life of a young Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler volunteer.
"This is a valuable memoir, providing both a good account of the nature of the fighting in the East, and the changing attitudes of the author, both towards the Nazi regime and the chances of final victory." (History of War)
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Excellent first hand account of the life of a member of the SS
Interesting to hear a story from someone in the Nazi SS.
I was surprised that the author had selective amnesia about anything negative regarding the SS and the Nazi regime.
Although his parents were Nazi party members and he was indoctrinated into the racist system he hardly mentions antisemitism and even claims to have been friendly and helped Jewish neighbours.
I don't believe a Nazi would call good morning to a Jewish labour in 1939 and go out of his way to help them in 1940?
Erwin implies that the SS Leibstandart had nothing to do with war crimes which goes against all the historical evidence.
From the very start of the war the Leibstandarte comited atrocities,
In 1939 members of the LSSAH committed atrocities in numerous Polish towns, including the murder of 50 Jews in Błonie and the massacre of 200 civilians, including children, who were machine gunned in Złoczew. Shootings also took place in Bolesławiec, Torzeniec, Goworowo, Mława, and Włocławek.
On 28 May 1940 the Leibstandarte had taken the village of Wormhout, only ten miles from Dunkirk. After their surrender, soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, along with some other units (including French soldiers) were taken to a barn in La Plaine au Bois near Wormhout and Esquelbecq. It was there that troops of the Leibstandarte 2nd Battalion committed the Wormhoudt massacre, where 80 British and French prisoners of war were killed.
The list of crimes go's on and on but for Erwin and his story the SS are all good chaps.
The naration was a little monotone.
Only if you want to see a Nazi properganda film.
A book about the SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler that glosses over antisematism against the Jews and war crimes against prisoners and civilians is a work of fiction and not a credible memoir of the SS at war.
Unfortunatly this book could be seen as Nazi properganda as it distorts the facts and portraise the SS troops as heros when they were political fanatics who took part in some of the worst crimes of the 20th century.
Bottom line is Erwin only tells you what he wants you to hear.
- Amazon Customer