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The Battle of Halbe, 1945 (Hardback)

Eyewitness Accounts from Hell's Cauldron

Military > Greenhill Books > Greenhill: WWII WWII

By Eberhard Baumgart, Introduction by Roger Moorhouse
Greenhill Books
Pages: 208
Illustrations: More than 50 illustrations
ISBN: 9781784387112
Published: 2nd March 2022


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In April 1945, German troops withdrawing from the Seelow Heights were encircled by the Soviet Army near the small town of Halbe, south-east of Berlin. Rather than surrender, their orders were to attempt to break out, westward, and join up with the German 12th Army. A brutal battle ensued, with an estimated 30,000 German and 20,000 Russian soldiers killed, along with thousands of civilians.

This collection of first-hand accounts tells the story of the battle and its aftermath from the German perspective. It is an eclectic mix, containing the recollections of ordinary soldiers, SS-men and men of the Panzer Divisions, as well as civilians caught up in the battle as they attempted to flee ahead of the advancing armies. It brings to life the grim realities of this one-sided engagement, revealing the brutal vengeance of the Soviets and the desperation to escape the slaughter.

Translated into English for the first time, this is an important insight into this devastating and little-known aspect of World War II history.

"...provides important and informative insights into this devastating and little-known aspect of World War II history."

Midwest Book Review, May 2022

"...[provides] exceptional firsthand accounts of desperation."

Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, April 2022

Ably translated into English for the first time by Eva Burke, "The Battle of Halbe, 1945: Eyewitness Accounts from Hell's Cauldron" provides important and informative insights into this devastating and little-known aspect of World War II history. An inherently fascinating and memorable read, "The Battle of Halbe, 1945: Eyewitness Accounts from Hell's Cauldron" must be regarded as an essential and valued addition to community, college, and university library World War II histories.

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Midwest Book Review

This book reveals the story of German troops being forced to withdraw from advancing Russian troops who had almost encircled them at the small town of Halbe in 1945. The battle was colossal and the number of soldiers who died was around 30,000 Germans & 20,000 Russians, and on top of that were thousands of German civilian casualties. This book which has been translated into English for the first time gives an excellent if harrowing retelling of events that occurred. With the writer relying on a number of accounts from men who were there. This was a fascinating read, of a story I had never really heard about before. The fighting and stories were staggering and I found it astonishing that I had not heard of this before. The story was a well written but easy to read the story, and there is a good number of photographs dotted throughout the book. I would highly recommend this book in which the Germans suffer an enormous onslaught from a Russian army.

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The History Fella

These accounts do, however, provide a series of remarkable descriptions of the desperate struggle that took place. There is also an interesting account of the immediate aftermath of the battle.

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Phil Curme

It’s an excellent book, translated into English for the first time, and a story that must be told, as it has particular relevance to events in Ukraine and the fate of Ukrainian citizens at the moment.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

As featured in

The Bookseller

A sobering detailed account populated by eyewitness accounts of those Germans who were in the chaotic battle and attempt to escape the Soviets. Also some interesting accounts of the aftermath under Russian control. The compilation of eyewitness accounts cleverly allows repetition of events so that the story reflects the confusion and the way that witnesses can see the same event differently. The supporting images are good and ordinarily I would bemoan the absence of maps. In this case the utter confusion of the battle renders maps unnecessary and the narrative tells the story of the frightened confused participants with great empathy and engagement. Halbe – the “largest burial ground in all of modern Germany’s history”.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Roger Moorhouse

Roger Moorhouse is an historian of the Third Reich. He is the author of the acclaimed Hitler's Third Reich in 100 Objects and The Devil's Alliance, and has been published in more than 20 languages. He is also a tour guide and visiting professor at Warsaw's College of Europe. You can see him on Twitter at @Roger_Moorhouse.

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