To the Gate of Hell (ePub)
A Memoir of a Panzer Crewman
Until seriously wounded in August 1944 when his tank was hit and caught fire during fighting in Southern Poland, Armin Böttger experienced the horrors of the Second World War on the Eastern Front from the perspective of a tank radio operator in the 24th Panzer Division. In this memoir he gives a full and honest account of his wartime career, encompassing both the hellish terror of combat and the everyday annoyances and injustices of army life in wartime.
Böttger had volunteered to join the Wehrmacht, but only because this would allow him to receive his Abitur (school leaving certificate) without sitting an exam. He is perfectly honest about his efforts to make his service life as comfortable and safe as possible, for instance becoming a radio operator because it was less hard work than being a Panzer driver and by getting himself postings as a courier to keep out of the front line. He also freely admits to lying about the state of his health to avoid being thrown into the hopeless battles in East Prussia at the end of the war. He was a skilled photographer, and was never without his camera, and his unique collection of colour and black and white photographs illustrate this book.
This story is of the reality of war on the Eastern Front, without heroics and told with contempt for the high command and the Nazi leadership, who were mostly safe at home while Böttger and his comrades suffered and died.
Bottger's memoirs convey the reality of war on the Eastern Front, without heroics and told with contempt for the Nazi High Command, who were mostly safe at home while Bottger and his comrades suffered and died.Military History Monthly