Eyewitness to Wehrmacht Atrocities on the Eastern Front
A German Soldier’s Memoir of War and Captivity
by Luis Raffeiner
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 30 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 25 Nov 2021
Pen & Sword, Pen & Sword Military
How can the truth about the devastating atrocities committed by the German army on the Eastern Front in the Second World War be reconciled with the propaganda of their heroism and their victories? And how did a simple soldier, caught up in the turmoil of a vast conflict, make sense of the actions he had taken and the ruthlessness he had seen? Luis Raffeiner’s plain and simple account of his direct experience of the Nazi war of annihilation in the Soviet Union records in graphic detail circumstances which made him a victim and perpetrator at the same time.
Raffeiner describes his family life in a remote village in the Tyrol in the 1930s, his military service in Italy, his transfer to the Wehrmacht and his training as a mechanic on assault guns, and then his march into the Soviet Union in 1941. There he experienced, as he himself says, ‘war in its brutal and cruel reality’. He was captured by the Red Army, barely survived as a prisoner of war and, many years later, he recounted his vividly remembered experiences in order to produce this insightful – and thought-provoking – book.
His recollections are dramatic, honest and concise. He shatters the myth of the clean conduct of the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. He can testify to the vicious actions of his fellow soldiers, including some in which he himself was involved. His memoir is not a heroic tale – it shows how a man from an ordinary background can become acquainted with, and a participant in, the horrors of war.