Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Book Review: Eyewitness to Hell
The book Eyewitness to Hell: With the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front in World War 2 by Erich Stahl. Is one of the best war memoirs of world war 2 I have ever read. It is written by someone who was in the action as a NCO, and later junior officer, in someone of the worst fighting that has ever happened; but by someone who was also at the same time in the action as a reporter recording what he saw. Stahl doesn't explain in the book how he is both an active soldier and a reporter but you get the impression that he is a soldier who used to work for a paper and so continues to file stories from the front line. Regardless it creates a fascinating mix of someone who is both a member of Hitler's fanatical elite but also also looking to explain what he is doing.
Stahl does make some attempt to explain why he is fighting; against communism which he sees as the ultimate evil. But he also has serious doubts about the Reichs policy towards "racial inferiors", and he is highly impressed by the Ukrainian people and disheartened by how they are treated under German occupation. His matter of fact descriptions of combat and life on the front are also excellent and he includes a chapter on being imprisoned by the Americans at the end of the war.
Overall it is an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone interested in History. Particularly anyone interested in the Eastern Front during World War 2.