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In the Hell of the Eastern Front (Paperback)

The Fate of a Young Soldier During the Fighting in Russia in WW2

WWII Russia & the Eastern Front Frontline Books Frontline: WWII Military

By Arno Sauer
Frontline Books
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781526797704
Published: 28th January 2022

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On 22 June 1941, German forces launched Operation Barbarossa – Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union. Instead of the swift knock-out blow that the Germans had anticipated, the war against the Soviets ground on relentlessly for almost four years. It was into this bloody theatre of war that Fritz Sauer was sent.

Having initially joined the ranks of the Reichsarbeitsdienst, the Reich Labour Service, Fritz was posted to Infantry Regiment No.437 in April 1942. Part of the 132nd Infantry Division, the regiment was serving on the Eastern Front having been deployed to the Crimea. The regiment was then transferred to the region around Leningrad, where, for the first time, Fritz truly experienced the horrors of war.

As well as his best friend being killed by a sniper, Fritz recalled events such as recovering the body of a fallen colleague from No Man’s Land, the terrifying experience of facing a Red Army infantry attack, Soviet tank assaults, and the moment when a group of comrades in a neighbouring crater were hit by a shell. He became a casualty himself when he was badly wounded in the legs during a counterattack.

After his recovery and retraining in a convalescent unit, Fritz was detailed to serve as a guard in a prisoner of war camp – still on the Eastern Front. Transferred to a tank assault regiment during the last year of the war, he was ordered to make contact with another unit, but lost his way in the snow. After sheltering with a farmer’s family, Fritz decided to head west, fleeing before the advancing Red Army. His subsequent journey home took many twists and turns.

Based on Fritz’s own recollections and narrative, this account of a young soldier’s experiences in the Second World War was brought together by his son. It is a moving and graphic description of one man’s involvement in the largest military confrontation in history – the Hell that was the Eastern Front.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history ,particularly 2nd world war history dealing with the eastern front and the harsh realities of this war from a soldiers participation in these events. After reading this book you realise the harsh results of this war on civilian population and local communities. Excellent and unputdownable.

NetGalley, Lional Jones

I strongly recommend this book if only for the German soldier’s perspective. The descriptions of the fights on the battlefield are gruesome but necessary to give a true sense of what war really is. Any sense of glamour that goes along with being a soldier is soon knocked down by the brutality found in war’s realities. Sauer goes from a bright-eyed young man eager to experience life as a soldier to a hollow-eyed shell of a man, stumbling from one battle to the next. His survival is a minor miracle in and of itself, considering the numerous close calls he faced. Any reader of this fascinating book will be very glad Fritz Sauer lived to tell the tale.

Read the full review here

Audible Clicks

I recommend the book to all history lovers. Besides the engaging language, the story emanates the untangible flair of sincerity that evokes, in return, sympathy and a sense of trust. The author does want readers to feel compassion toward his father and his peers, who became involuntary victims of the war. Yet, contrary to many memoirs from the German side, a reader doesn't feel forced to accept the author's viewpoint.

NetGalley, Darya Silman

This different point of view is a must-read for anyone who wants a rounded understanding of World War II. There are many books on Hitler, on the Third Reich, on Hitler’s cronies, on the Allies (the United Kingdom/the United States of America) especially and on world politics. To find one from someone who grew up through the war on the German side is a rarity, and so this is one I plan to re-read again.

NetGalley, Kat Corish

The Hell that was the Eastern Front. The title couldn’t be more apt for this book!
Reading it, knowing it’s not a work of fiction really leaves its mark on you.
A powerful emotionally charged read that at times supersedes any work of fiction and makes you wish it was fiction and not a real life lived.
Certainly a book you won’t be able to forget and nor should it be forgotten.

NetGalley, Debbie Littley

A truly interesting story regarding the exploits of a German soldier in the Eastern front. The ordeal he had to endure throughout the war was horrifying. The hardships endured during this time will really make you think. This book will grab your attention and hold your interest.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book by Sauer is one of the most interesting and believable accounts I have read of the trials of the many people involved in the War. Some of the details were new to me. To now that POWs worked and lived with German families helping in farms was surprising. The average German male was drafted and sent off. Well they needed help growing and harvesting so the POWs were set to do just that. The details of Arnos war experiences were true of every soldier in that war. What both sides went through was unimaginable and the story is a great reason for all to read what war is really like, not the glamourised tales of movies and posers, but the real details of horror . There were also stories of bravery and honesty as well as hope in this book. If you want to know what the IMO the average German soldier felt ,Their daily lives ,and what was going on back home .Then this book will open your eyes.

NetGalley, Patrick Carmen

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book must be one of the most powerful anti-war books ever written. It tells the true story of a young rural, apprentice barber conscripted into the Wehrmacht and sent to fight on the Russian front. The experiences suffered by the young soldier were truly horrific, the author vividly captures the emotions and the bloody gore of infantry warfare.
I found the statistics of the number of dead and injured, unimaginable. How many millions of families grieved endlessly for their deceased loved ones? Most had no known graves.
The invasion of Russia by Germany was almost certainly doomed from the start due to the incompetence of Hitler and his henchmen. The opening of the second front, by the invasion of Normandy, put the destruction of Germany in no doubt.
I can thoroughly recommend this extraordinary biography, written by the protagonists son.

NetGalley, Peter Coxall

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is remarkably well written. It is poignant and telling. I felt very bad for Fritz and his fellow soldiers who were only doing their job under penalty of death. War is terrible, no matter on whose side one fights.

NetGalley, Joyce Fox

Featured in 'Paperback Preview January 2022'

The Bookseller

In a time when veterans are all leaving us this is no small thing, and my advice is to read these beautiful memoirs thinking about how lucky we are not to have to live such experiences anymore.

Read the full Italian review here

On The Old Barbed Wire

Featured in

WWII History

This is a great little book that reveals the everyday and the horrors that can be seen in the war. The author has done a great job writing his story, it’s both informative and riveting to read. Certainly recommended.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

This offering from Pen and Sword, is one of those excellent presentations that have come to the fore, in recent years. Telling the story of one man’s war in possibly one of the most brutal theatres of battle during World War II. I urge anyone who wants a sense of how close you can become to another human being in times of adversity to read this title.

Read the full review here

Armorama

It's not a long book, but it contains gripping details, especially as the war turned into a disaster for the Germans. A good read.

The Armourer, February 2021

This book joins the growing list of first class personal accounts by German soldiers. They all seem to follow the same road of immersion into the Eastern Front and tell of the horrific combat conditions. Their survival is about luck, coupled with some deeper personal resolve or character that assists them to not only survive but to compile their accounts and thoughts for the benefit of later generations. A fascinating book.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Arno Sauer

Known to his friends and family as Fritz, FRIEDRICH GOTTFRIED SAUER was born on 22 December 1923, in Bassenheim near Coblenz in the Rhineland, to farmer and potato dealer Josef Sauer and his wife Antoinette. He was just eighteen when he was first conscripted by the German authorities in the winter of 1940-41. Initially joining the ranks of the Reich Labour Service, he was soon transferred to the Heer, the German Army, and posted to an infantry unit which formed part of Army Group North on the Eastern Front. Despite being terribly wounded, Fritz survived the war.


Based on his father's recollections, In the Hell of the Eastern Front – an account of his wartime experiences – was written by his son, Arno Sauer.

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