Egbert Kieser’s graphic account of the Red Army’s assault on East Prussia in 1945 is one of the classic histories of the destruction of Hitler’s Germany—and it has never before been available in English. In this vivid translation, Tony Le Tissier brings to bear his expert knowledge of the military defeat of the German armies in the East and the enormity of the human disaster that went with it.
By the beginning of 1945, the war was all but lost for Germany. Moreover, after the collapse of the Ardennes offensive, Hitler has shifted his focus from the Eastern Front to the war in the West. The Soviets began their offensive in East Prussia on January 12, 1945. Overwhelmed and vastly outnumbered by well-prepared Soviet forces all along the front, German resistance crumbled. By January 19, elite Russian troops had crossed the German border and were pushing toward the heart of Prussia.
The civilian populations behind the German lines had no idea of the danger they were facing, and life went on normally even as their armies were being crushed beyond the “East Wall.” As the Red Army overran the Samland, West Prussia, Pomerania, Danzig and Königsberg, the populations of these regions fled the advancing Soviets. Grand Admiral Alfred Dönitz, Hitler’s nominal successor, ordered a massive evacuation by sea, in which an estimated 1,950,000 refugees and wounded soldiers were brought westward across the Baltic to Germany and Denmark. 1,900,000 more escaped overland from Prussia and Pomerania to the other side of the Oder River, the eastern boundary of post-war Germany. But it was a period marked by chaos, freezing conditions and brutal crimes against the civilian populace.
Drawing on unforgettable eyewitness testimony, Kieser documents the catastrophe that overtook German civilians and soldiers as they fled from the Soviet onslaught. He recounts the shock experienced by a German farmer’s wife upon seeing the first Soviet aircraft banking over a nearby village; trembling villagers handing over their jewelry and valuables to Russian soldiers; a mid-50-year-old Volkssturm commander supervising the chaotic civilian evacuation of Friedland; villagers in the town of Grünhagen trying in futility to dig a grave in the frozen earth to bury a woman killed in the onslaught; the confusion and desperation at railway stations as civilians tried to escape; and—in a chilling tableau that became all too common in the war in the East—the cries for help of women being raped by Russian soldiers. While Kieser deftly charts the military progress of the campaign in East Prussia, it is scenes like these that lend an indelible humanity to his account.
Prussian Apocalypse stands as one of the most searing and dramatic accounts to emerge from World War II.
Hardcover Book : 240 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword Ltd. ( November 22, 2011 )
Item #: 13-527380
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 inches
Product Weight: 11.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Wow, did this book totally suck!! Author had you bouncing around WAY too much; too many characters that were un-interesting (did not really care if any of them lived/died); dryly written; NO brakes in the paragraphs when switching from one characters perspective to another (very confusing to me anyway). Thought that this would be a great book to learn something from the Eastern Front by the German point-of-view but learned that I will not finish this book. Sucked!!!
Reviewer: James B