Stormtrooper on the Eastern Front (ePub)
Fighting with Hitler's Latvian SS
Following the conquest of his native Latvia by the Nazis, the author was given the stark choice: service in the SS or forced labour in a slave camp. So he 'volunteered' to fight for the Nazis. He describes his training and how he became an instructor before being sent into Russia. He nearly perished during the terrible winter of 1943-44 being wounded and finding himself with his friend lying dead on top of him. As the tide turned and the Russians advanced remorselessly through. He was wounded twice more and awarded the Iron Cross for bravery. With German resistance collapsing, the author had to flee for his life - capture by the Russians meant almost certain death. He surrendered to the Americans but describes the neglect he suffered at their hands. Unable to return to Latvia now occupied by the Russians, he became a Displaced Person eventually settling in the UK.
Edited by Lisa Blosfelds, this is such a readable book I was quite upset that I had to put it down after reading 2/3s in a single sitting. I usually speed-read my way through most of the books I review but, this time, the story had me beaten. It is so well written that I was engrossed by the end of page two and I found myself being educated and entertained as I discovered the real story behind the Latvian SS and the motivation of the soldiers to fight for the Nazi war machine.East Yorkshire Family History Society
Mintauts was born in Latvia in 1924, the perfect age to become an SS 'volunteer'. His choice as simple: forced labour in the slave camps or service in the German forces. The political situation meant that the invasion of Latvia by the German forces was positively welcomed by the majority of Latvians when compared with the constant fear and oppression endured under Russian control. Thousands had simply disappeared and almost the whole Latvian population lived their lives in fear and with meagre diets and little to look forward to from day to day.
The book follows Mintauts' story through his basic training and how he became an instructor himself. While serving on the Russian Front in the terrible winter of 1943-44 he lost a number of friends, was wounded twice, hospitalised and even earned the coveted Iron Cross for his bravery.
Fleeing the Russian advance, the horrors of war did not end with his surrender to American Forces under who's control he suffered further neglect and, unable to return to his Latvian home which was firmly back in the grasp of the Red Army, he ended the war as a displaced person; eventually settling in England. This is an extremely rare first-hand account of life in the SS and is a truly compulsive story.
Lisa, who edited her father's book, is a member of the EYFHS and has undertaken a number of projects on behalf of the society including the 'Enclosure of Reighton' and a three-part parish register set of the same. She is currently transcribing the Parish Records of Speeton for the EYFHS.
This is the incredible story of one man's battle to survive in a harsh world.......it is a personal tale of a warfare rarely seen.....A fascinating, thought-provoking read...The Entertainer