After Stalingrad (ePub)
Seven Years as a Soviet Prisoner of War
The battle for Stalingrad has been studied and recalled in exhaustive detail ever since the Red Army trapped the German 6th Army in the ruined city in 1942. But most of these accounts finish at the end of the battle, with columns of tens of thousands of German soldiers disappearing into Soviet captivity. Their fate is rarely described. That is why Adelbert Holl's harrowing and vivid memoir of his seven-year ordeal as a prisoner in the Soviet camps is such an important record as well as an absorbing story.
As he moves from camp to camp across the Soviet Union, an unsparing inside view of the prison system and its population of ex-soldiers emerges. He describes the daily life in the camps – the crowding, the dirt, the cold, the ever-present threat of disease, the forced marches, the indifference or cruelty of the guards – in authentic detail.
The Soviets treated German prisoners as slave labourers, working them exhaustively, in often appalling conditions. The prisoners could only struggled to survive, to support each other, and hope against hope to return home.
As featured on WWII TodayWWII Today
Much has been written about the battle of Stalingrad with most accounts finishing as German troops surrendered themselves to Russian forces in early 1943. Adelbert Holl’s account begins in his last desperate hours before the surrender he and his comrades huddled together in their bunker preparing for an uncertain future...Neil Barlow, GD Aufklärung
Most accounts of the WW2 battle for Stalingrad end with columns of German prisoners of war being marched away into Soviet captivity. This is the start point for this book however, presenting the author’s account of his seven year ordeal as a prisoner in Soviet camps. Adelbert Holl fought as an infantryman in the German 6th Army at Stalingrad during the battle for that city. He was taken prisoner when the Germans surrendered and spent the next seven years in Soviet Prisons camps, being repatriated to Germany in 1950. As he moves from camp to camp across the Soviet Union, an unsparing inside view of the prison system emerges. The author describes in authentic detail the daily life in the camps, the crowding, the dirt, the cold, the ever present threat of disease, the forced marches, the indifference or cruelty of the guards and the tensions between prisoners. Their captors treated their German prisoners as slave labourers, working them exhaustively, often in appalling conditions. By means of his story of captivity, the author has provided a rare insight into the neglected, often forgotten, aftermath of the German defeat in the East. This absorbing but gritty book is like no other war memoir that this reviewer has read and is recommended as a work on an often neglected aspect of WW2.Stuart Asquith, Author
The Battle of Stalingrad is etched into the human consciousness with so many books and documentaries on the subject.Destructive Music
But there usually end with the battle but for tens of thousands of German soldiers captured by the Soviets in 1942, their nightmare was beginning in earnest. We seldom hear anything of their fate.
Which is why I can say Adelbert Holl’s story of his seven years in the Soviet prison camps is so important, a valuable historical document as well as a very engrossing story, one described with meticulous detail. Used as slave labour, the prisoners were treated with the utmost cruelty.
Credit must also be given to Tony le Tissier for his superb translation. Pen & Sword have published an important book here.