Sniper on the Eastern Front: The Memoirs of Sepp Allerberger, Knight's Cross by Geoffrey Brooks (2006)

Josef "Sepp" Allerberger, Austrian who volunteered to serve in Wehrmacht, decided to change "careers" after quickly recognizing that machine gunner do not have a long life on the front, they are the first one killed by the enemy during attacks. After an injury, practicing with a captured Soviet sniper rifle, he becomes a killing machine with 250+ recognized deaths (and based on the discussions with multiple hundred(?) others). While the book's backbone is the story of "personal growth" (if you can call it such, learning the trade, how dig oneself in, where to shoot a person depending on if you want them dead, screaming or screaming even louder) of a sniper, the gruesome and harrowing details of this bloody confrontation are on every page. A forgotten unit turning to cannibalism under the gun of their commissars, people blown to pieces and receiving grievous injuries, dead bodies piling up higher than a person during attacks, routine killing and in many cases torture of captured German soldiers (including extra suffering for captured snipers, if identified), the rampage of the Soviet army through "enemy" countries, killing, raping, robbing civilian population (although in many cases their own country (wo)men didn't fare any better), life in the trench were the enemy snipers can pick you out any time a part of your body shows, such cold weather that hostilities ceased as all weapons froze and the soldiers could only think about how to survive. The German unit was pushed and chased by the Red Army for more than 2 years from Voroshilovsk almost back into Austria, where Josef was lucky enough to avoid both the Soviets and the Americans (who were transferring captured soldiers into Soviet custody), so he avoided the forced labor camps. Excellent lesson in history.

No comments: