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Für Volk and Führer: The Memoir of a Veteran of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler

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Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just seventeen-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticesh Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just seventeen-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticeship at the Glaser bakery in Memeler Strasse and walked into the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin as a raw, volunteer recruit. On arrival at the Eastern Front in late summer 1941, Erwin was assigned to a frontline communications squad attached to 4.Kompanie and soon discovered that survival was a matter of luck - or the protection of a guardian angel. Good fortune finally deserted Erwin on 11 July 1943 when shrapnel sizzled through his lung during the epic Battle of Kursk-Prokhorovka. Following a period of recovery, and promotion to Unterscharfuhrer, Erwin took up a post as machine-gun instructor with the Ausbildung und Ersatz Bataillon, a training unit based close to the eastern section of the Berliner Ring Autobahn. When the Red Army launched its massive assault on the Seelow Heights, Erwin's unit, now incorporated into Regiment Falke, was deployed to the southern flank of the Berlin-Frankfurt Autobahn, close to the River Oder. The German defenses soon crumbled and with the end of the Reich inevitable, Erwin was forced to choose between a struggle for personal survival and the fulfillment of his SS oath of 'loyalty unto death'. From the war on the southern sector of the Eastern Front to a bomb-shattered Berlin populated largely by old men and demoralized lonely women, this candid eyewitness account offers a unique and sometimes surprising perspective on the life of a young Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler volunteer.


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Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just seventeen-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticesh Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just seventeen-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticeship at the Glaser bakery in Memeler Strasse and walked into the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin as a raw, volunteer recruit. On arrival at the Eastern Front in late summer 1941, Erwin was assigned to a frontline communications squad attached to 4.Kompanie and soon discovered that survival was a matter of luck - or the protection of a guardian angel. Good fortune finally deserted Erwin on 11 July 1943 when shrapnel sizzled through his lung during the epic Battle of Kursk-Prokhorovka. Following a period of recovery, and promotion to Unterscharfuhrer, Erwin took up a post as machine-gun instructor with the Ausbildung und Ersatz Bataillon, a training unit based close to the eastern section of the Berliner Ring Autobahn. When the Red Army launched its massive assault on the Seelow Heights, Erwin's unit, now incorporated into Regiment Falke, was deployed to the southern flank of the Berlin-Frankfurt Autobahn, close to the River Oder. The German defenses soon crumbled and with the end of the Reich inevitable, Erwin was forced to choose between a struggle for personal survival and the fulfillment of his SS oath of 'loyalty unto death'. From the war on the southern sector of the Eastern Front to a bomb-shattered Berlin populated largely by old men and demoralized lonely women, this candid eyewitness account offers a unique and sometimes surprising perspective on the life of a young Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler volunteer.

30 review for Für Volk and Führer: The Memoir of a Veteran of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brett C

    I thought this was a decent first-hand account during WW2. This was an autobiography about an SS volunteer from his childhood, adolescence, and volunteering into the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte "SS Adolf Hitler". Erwin gave a lot of sentimental details about his start, his surrounding in early Nazi Germany and answering the call to defend the Fatherland against Bolshevism, basic military training, and his military career in and out of combat. He was a infantryman but his specialty was a I thought this was a decent first-hand account during WW2. This was an autobiography about an SS volunteer from his childhood, adolescence, and volunteering into the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte "SS Adolf Hitler". Erwin gave a lot of sentimental details about his start, his surrounding in early Nazi Germany and answering the call to defend the Fatherland against Bolshevism, basic military training, and his military career in and out of combat. He was a infantryman but his specialty was a telephony & communications troop. Most of his combat action happened in the Eastern Front and being pushed back to Berlin as the Red Army advanced into Germany. He wrote about what he saw, how he felt, and his experiences as a patriotic youth fighting the enemy. Overall the story encompassed a lot of details and was written with honesty. I only wished Erwin Bartmann gave told more about his combat experiences. I would recommend this to anyone wanting a personal story of an SS soldier. Thanks!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    An ok read but I wasn’t convinced by the account of either his time in Hitler’s elite Warren SS unit or the manner in which the story is told I happened upon this one on Audible and felt it was worth trying as I do believe that many impressionable young German boys grew up under the spell of what they felt was a charismatic leader and wanted to make their country and leader proud of them but as ordinary soldiers on the front got caught up in a war where they no longer could justify. Like many Ge An ok read but I wasn’t convinced by the account of either his time in Hitler’s elite Warren SS unit or the manner in which the story is told I happened upon this one on Audible and felt it was worth trying as I do believe that many impressionable young German boys grew up under the spell of what they felt was a charismatic leader and wanted to make their country and leader proud of them but as ordinary soldiers on the front got caught up in a war where they no longer could justify. Like many Germans, Berlin schoolboy Erwin Bartmann fell under the spell of the Zeitgeist cultivated by the Nazis. Convinced he was growing up in the best country in the world, he dreamt of joining the Leibstandarte, Hitler's elite Waffen SS unit. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, and just seventeen-years-old, Erwin fulfilled his dream on Mayday 1941, when he gave up his apprenticeship at the Glaser bakery in Memeler Strasse and walked into the Lichterfelde barracks in Berlin as a raw, volunteer recruit. On arrival at the Eastern Front in late summer 1941, Erwin was assigned to a frontline communications squad attached to 4.Kompanie and soon discovered that survival was a matter of luck - or the protection of a guardian angel I never connected with Mr Bartmann’s story or his telling of it. I just couldn't get past the fact that he recounted so many atrocities and rapes by the Russians Army. But can you write a memoir about your time as as a Vetern of the 1st SS Panzer Division Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and not be aware of the crimes of the SS? the mass annihilation of Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and others that Hitler deemed unfit to live in the Third Reich. I didn't expect the book to be an apology as this soldier didn't commit these horrendous crimes but I needed to understand his reaction as the reality unfolded after the War. This should have had a huge impact on him as a person and would at least be worthy of a page in his memoir I would have thought. I understand that this is his story about his time at war and the unit he served in and his account of his time Served is interesting and readable. It was an ok read for me but not one I will remember and certainly not one for my favourites shelf. I listened to this one on audible and the narration quite good.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Al Williams

    Not overly dependant on accounts of combat, I found this an honest and interesting story of a man's reflections on his service in the Leibstandarte. Reinforced by a lack of apologist and anti-nazi rhetoric, it maintains a style that made it an easy and enjoyable read.An absolute credit to Erwin Bartmann that he maintains an objective pride in his service in the face of great adversity and the stigma attached to anyone who served in the Waffen SS. Highly recommended! Not overly dependant on accounts of combat, I found this an honest and interesting story of a man's reflections on his service in the Leibstandarte. Reinforced by a lack of apologist and anti-nazi rhetoric, it maintains a style that made it an easy and enjoyable read.An absolute credit to Erwin Bartmann that he maintains an objective pride in his service in the face of great adversity and the stigma attached to anyone who served in the Waffen SS. Highly recommended!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    A good account that doesn't end in apologist volte-face which is interesting. He brings up a fair point at the end of the confusion of how quickly the west immediately started painting the Communists in the same light Hitler and his ilk had. He admits to being caught up in the cult of personality that Hitler had as a young boy, but did not understand the hate towards the Jews, though was staunchly anti-communist and one gets the impression by extension anti-Slav. Glad I read it, but wish it had A good account that doesn't end in apologist volte-face which is interesting. He brings up a fair point at the end of the confusion of how quickly the west immediately started painting the Communists in the same light Hitler and his ilk had. He admits to being caught up in the cult of personality that Hitler had as a young boy, but did not understand the hate towards the Jews, though was staunchly anti-communist and one gets the impression by extension anti-Slav. Glad I read it, but wish it had focused on the combat side of things more, still was very easy to read with the chapters laid out nicely and the combat actions he did describe were done well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paco

    Beautiful book with so much insight and truth being spoken. You get a very clear view on what the world was like in the 1930s under Der Tritte Reich. Many of books and movies are very biased Jewish propaganda, and this book gets you to see things from a different perspective to the very detail and feeling. Worth every second of reading.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Not as honest it purports. Perhaps it is partly the impossiblity of writing a memoir 65 plus years after the events occurred but mostly I feel that Bartmann has given us far a too breezy account of his life in the SS. It reminds me a little of the skilful narrative woven by Albert Speer in Inside the Third Reich in which an obviously intelligent and engaging writer appears to honestly deal with his Nazi past but, despite the apparent candour, I get the feeling a rather rosy story is being presen Not as honest it purports. Perhaps it is partly the impossiblity of writing a memoir 65 plus years after the events occurred but mostly I feel that Bartmann has given us far a too breezy account of his life in the SS. It reminds me a little of the skilful narrative woven by Albert Speer in Inside the Third Reich in which an obviously intelligent and engaging writer appears to honestly deal with his Nazi past but, despite the apparent candour, I get the feeling a rather rosy story is being presented. On the one hand it is refreshing that the author does not pretend anything other than to be an enthusiastic young Nazi officer on the other hand this enables him to gloss over awkward bits like vaguely talking about what his brother SD troops doing in Russia i.e. wholesale butchering people. Very well written but the detail is so good it makes me question what was was real and what was not.

  7. 4 out of 5

    CHAD L MCLEISH

    Amazing detail from memory The recollections from the memory of an 88 year old man, truly amazing. That he lived such a long life after suffering from the frostbite and wounds, the starvation and lack of nutrition and hygiene, also proves that he had a Guardian Angel. What separated life from death was a gnat's eyelash. A very detailed personal remembrance of life in the Waffen SS, we learn new and surprising revelations about the highest units in the German war machine. The more of these stories Amazing detail from memory The recollections from the memory of an 88 year old man, truly amazing. That he lived such a long life after suffering from the frostbite and wounds, the starvation and lack of nutrition and hygiene, also proves that he had a Guardian Angel. What separated life from death was a gnat's eyelash. A very detailed personal remembrance of life in the Waffen SS, we learn new and surprising revelations about the highest units in the German war machine. The more of these stories I read I discover without doubt that there are only a couple flavors of people in this world, and the colors of skin nor their heritage or social class change those flavors. Great book, highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Pazik

    Interesting story!! What a unique book, an 8 year old German boy, who ends of fighting in WWII, he was never a Nazi, he never voted for Hitler, but he fought a war, and never really understood why??

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steven Woolard

    Human Very little to say really. Puts an ordinary man in the history and story of the SS. Required reading at any level.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I found this a well written and interesting book on the life of a young Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler volunteer. From initial training to his first assignment to the southern sector of the Eastern Front we follow a young soldier's life, his wound at Krusk bringing him home to Berlin, meeting family and old friends, to his assignment as instructor for machine gun training. His students are called to protect Berlin as the Russians encircle the city, losing ground, and realizing his only hope is es I found this a well written and interesting book on the life of a young Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler volunteer. From initial training to his first assignment to the southern sector of the Eastern Front we follow a young soldier's life, his wound at Krusk bringing him home to Berlin, meeting family and old friends, to his assignment as instructor for machine gun training. His students are called to protect Berlin as the Russians encircle the city, losing ground, and realizing his only hope is escape to the west. Not all battle experiences, but rather what life was like for a soldier in one of Germany's elite fighting units, in battle, at rest, and on leave.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Amazing story very well told. This was my first audio book and I’m so glad it was. Flowed beautifully and put me right there on the front with Erwin. It’s very easy for people these days to make judgment of people and their actions in history. But it really does depend on what you’ve read. And guess who writes history? The winners. Well worth reading for anyone who wants to open their mind.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Phil Mader

    Erwin Bartmann makes it clear that even as an ex-Waffen SS man, he needs to repudiate Adolf Hitler, partly because of the Holocaust organized by Hitler and his henchmen. However, in the field fighting in Russia, he was made aware first hand of the genocide against the Jews being waged there by the S.S. . Nowhere in the book does he show evidence of having had reflections about abandoning Hitler's army. Not even thinking about it. How then can we take him seriously when he expresses unhappiness w Erwin Bartmann makes it clear that even as an ex-Waffen SS man, he needs to repudiate Adolf Hitler, partly because of the Holocaust organized by Hitler and his henchmen. However, in the field fighting in Russia, he was made aware first hand of the genocide against the Jews being waged there by the S.S. . Nowhere in the book does he show evidence of having had reflections about abandoning Hitler's army. Not even thinking about it. How then can we take him seriously when he expresses unhappiness with Hitler. It's clear that a part of him was deeply devoted to the Hitlerian project of ridding the world of communists and communism. He felt comfortable being the tool of this campaign in order to rid the world of evil , yet he partook in the evil of being Hitler's soldier , showing pride in his personal accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of the unit he belonged to because they fought for the Fatherland. Fatherland trumped his personal conscience. A well written book , especially as regards the description of Nazi German military maneouvres, destruction and suffering on the Russian front. While in France, he and his unit were open to being shot at by the French Resistance. Would I have mourned dear Erwin blowing up in the air along with his fellows, had it occurred? If I'm really honest with myself, even after reading this book, I have to admit, not in the least.

  13. 5 out of 5

    M. I.

    I truly wanted to take this work at face value, but there is a hint of whitewash here that cannot be ignored. The author takes pains to note his friendship and affinity with Jewish neighbors and, at the end, decries his "mistreatment" at the hands of his allied captors, who reportedly deprived him, briefly, of food and medical treatment. Nevertheless, he settled in Scotland and lived a long and productive life, which he doesn't detail. Despite his pride at being a LSAH trooper, he and his fellow I truly wanted to take this work at face value, but there is a hint of whitewash here that cannot be ignored. The author takes pains to note his friendship and affinity with Jewish neighbors and, at the end, decries his "mistreatment" at the hands of his allied captors, who reportedly deprived him, briefly, of food and medical treatment. Nevertheless, he settled in Scotland and lived a long and productive life, which he doesn't detail. Despite his pride at being a LSAH trooper, he and his fellow Waffen SS soldiers quickly shed the vestiges of their unit before surrendering; they likely knew, or at least suspected, they were associated with a criminal enterprise. I won't deny a soldier's service or suffering and I certainly know, from prior reading, that the Soviets were not the kind of people one wanted to surrender to in battle; but neither were the SS at the end of the day. This is a worthwhile piece of personal history but it is best read with an understanding of the larger picture as well because the author turns out to be something of an apologist in the end, I think. Still, recommended.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mihai

    A story about Waffen SS innocence, by a delusional author Well structured chapters, very easy to read. A pretty good story, but not a book that I just could't put down. What I really hated were the references to the savage behaviour of the Russian soldiers and despite the fact that the author was a soldier from 1941 to 1945 he did't see or even hear about brutalities of the Waffen SS. He just can't vow that random acts may have happened. And anyway the perpretators were from other branches of the S A story about Waffen SS innocence, by a delusional author Well structured chapters, very easy to read. A pretty good story, but not a book that I just could't put down. What I really hated were the references to the savage behaviour of the Russian soldiers and despite the fact that the author was a soldier from 1941 to 1945 he did't see or even hear about brutalities of the Waffen SS. He just can't vow that random acts may have happened. And anyway the perpretators were from other branches of the SS. Waffen SS personel behaved exemplary. The stories about the cruelty of the Waffen SS are sort of a disinformation of the victors to tarnish the reputation. The very end says it all about the mentality of the author about WW2: "what if Hitler had not confronted the threat of communism, where would the boundaries of the Soviet Union have been drawn?" In conclusion, a big "thank you!" to mr. Hitler for his pro-active attitude of combating communism and believe the author regarding the innocence of the Waffen SS, people!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Mela

    Very interesting and often poignant. It was 'just' a memoir of a young man that for a few years was one of Waffen-SS. Was he evil? Had he hearth of the cold? How much had he told us? [No, no, I don't know] It was not an account of the war or about Nazizm. It was the voice of a boy who had enough of hard work (in a bakery), who wanted to have a girl, and who was loyal to his friends - but who was born in an awful time (and place) and consequently, had different possible choices than others - he w Very interesting and often poignant. It was 'just' a memoir of a young man that for a few years was one of Waffen-SS. Was he evil? Had he hearth of the cold? How much had he told us? [No, no, I don't know] It was not an account of the war or about Nazizm. It was the voice of a boy who had enough of hard work (in a bakery), who wanted to have a girl, and who was loyal to his friends - but who was born in an awful time (and place) and consequently, had different possible choices than others - he will be very long with me. Don't treat it as a history textbook, don't expect moralization, or even much explanations of what and why happened in Germany in 30./40. XX century. Just listen to the recollections from the memory of an old man that then was a boy and young man.

  16. 5 out of 5

    djcb

    The tale of a soldier fighting in the SS Panzer Division.; interesting to see the bildung from just a small-town boy to SS-man, mostly working on communications; Operation Barbarossa and ultimately, the last days of the war; and many little anecdotes in between. All the bad things (war-crimes, that kind of thing) were committed by other units, soldiers, Russians, not by the gentleman-soldiers in Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, and there's very little reflection on the morals of all this. The tale of a soldier fighting in the SS Panzer Division.; interesting to see the bildung from just a small-town boy to SS-man, mostly working on communications; Operation Barbarossa and ultimately, the last days of the war; and many little anecdotes in between. All the bad things (war-crimes, that kind of thing) were committed by other units, soldiers, Russians, not by the gentleman-soldiers in Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, and there's very little reflection on the morals of all this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donald Pryde

    Unrepentant A surprisingly good book written by an ex SS soldier. From joining all the way to being a prisoner of war.

  18. 5 out of 5

    John McNair

    I really enjoy these personal war mémoires, and I tend to "ping" on those written by (or for, in this case) former German soldiers. Usually the author was in the ranks, and generally the mémoires all, more or less, read similarly (when their experience was the Ostfront). But I tend to believe them all, even when some stories seem a bit far-fetched (as do some of Bartmann's, at the very least some timelines are a bit suspect, as are gaps in the story). He carefully omits any direct involvement in I really enjoy these personal war mémoires, and I tend to "ping" on those written by (or for, in this case) former German soldiers. Usually the author was in the ranks, and generally the mémoires all, more or less, read similarly (when their experience was the Ostfront). But I tend to believe them all, even when some stories seem a bit far-fetched (as do some of Bartmann's, at the very least some timelines are a bit suspect, as are gaps in the story). He carefully omits any direct involvement in any atrocities but does describe in some detail those inflicted on Waffen SS soldiers by the Russians, as well as the treatment of former SS troops by his captors. This history was written nearly 70 years after the events took place, so naturally there are gaps. The detail in many cases is startlingly clear, but that comes from having a trained author write down one's story. Bartmann's tale is a very interesting glimpse of the times (he calls it Zeitgeist) of life in Germany and specifically Berlin during the late 1930s and into the war. How a young man was naturally attracted to the ranks of the Leibstandarte SS, the and those very interesting times through which he lived. I am in awe of men such as him, who gave their all and had their youth stolen away, regardless of what side they were on. And one can't but feel admiration for the spirit of those who served in the Leibstandarde, all the while not forgetting the regime for which it stood. Highly recommended! If you're reading it on a Kindle (and likely you will if you're reading this and want to read the book), I suggest you have an atlas at hand to look up places, most of them being well explained by Bartmann.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    A well written account of one man's service in the LSSAH. Bartmann, like many other men of the SS had quite the personal transformation. From working as an assistant in a bakery to enlisting and serving in one of the most elite divisions of the Third Reich. Bartmann mentions early in the book that at the recruitment center, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS, was present and chatting with staff and potential recruits. Bartmann says that he spoke to Himmler, who in turn spoke to staff m A well written account of one man's service in the LSSAH. Bartmann, like many other men of the SS had quite the personal transformation. From working as an assistant in a bakery to enlisting and serving in one of the most elite divisions of the Third Reich. Bartmann mentions early in the book that at the recruitment center, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer of the SS, was present and chatting with staff and potential recruits. Bartmann says that he spoke to Himmler, who in turn spoke to staff members to clear up a difficulty Bartmann had with his enlistment forms. This is really the only part of the memoir that I question the validity of. I would imagine Himmler had more important things to do as Reichsführer than visit an enlistment center, but at the same time, I could see him doing that as a morale boost for the enlisted, so who knows. Bartmann fought in many brutal engagements on the Eastern Front, and was eventually wounded at Prokhorovka in 1943 . Bartmann was sent back to Germany to recover from his wound, and landed a position as a machine gun instructor in the town of Alt Hartmansdorf. Bartmann participated in the final defenses of Germany, leading young SS recruits against the insurmountable Soviet offensive. He surrendered to American forces on the River Oder in April 1945, and eventually was taken as a POW to the UK, where he eventually settled in Scotland, and lived out his life as a baker in Edinburgh.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Memoir of a Waffen-SS infantry soldier in WW2. He fought on the eastern front, then was wounded, returned to Germany, and escaped west to be captured by the allies (ultimately to be imprisoned after the war in Scotland, then settle there permanently). Overall, decent, and a typical "this is how things were for foot soldiers" account. It was a decent audiobook (and on sale), and hard to put down, but ultimately didn't include anything particularly compelling. The most interesting unexpected thing f Memoir of a Waffen-SS infantry soldier in WW2. He fought on the eastern front, then was wounded, returned to Germany, and escaped west to be captured by the allies (ultimately to be imprisoned after the war in Scotland, then settle there permanently). Overall, decent, and a typical "this is how things were for foot soldiers" account. It was a decent audiobook (and on sale), and hard to put down, but ultimately didn't include anything particularly compelling. The most interesting unexpected thing for me was just how far basic infantry and military training have come -- weapon cleaning accidents due to poor procedures in an elite unit, the author's lifetime disability due to frostbite subsequent to being forgotten about and left asleep in a truck when the rest of his unit went into shelter, etc. Pretty basic stuff, but has been substantially improved on by other militaries. As an audiobook, decent. Overall while I'd consider this 4 star, it wouldn't be on the top of my to read list unless I were particularly interested in the Leibstandarte division.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Randolph A Rossi

    A Memoir of a Young Man Who Became A Heroic Soldier for a Bad Cause Alt the end of WWII, all members of the SS were branded as Monsters who raped and murdered the civilian populations of many countries which was not true for all sections of the Storm Troops (SS) according to the author. He was a member of the elite 1st. Division Panzer of Waffen SS that saw action several times in the Eastern Front and he distinguished himself heroically having been injured several times by enemy fire. It was enl A Memoir of a Young Man Who Became A Heroic Soldier for a Bad Cause Alt the end of WWII, all members of the SS were branded as Monsters who raped and murdered the civilian populations of many countries which was not true for all sections of the Storm Troops (SS) according to the author. He was a member of the elite 1st. Division Panzer of Waffen SS that saw action several times in the Eastern Front and he distinguished himself heroically having been injured several times by enemy fire. It was enlightening to hear about how he guided his small band of new recruits as they struggled to evade the Red Army. I think that he glossed over his knowledge of the atrocities that other SS units were involved in but I do believe that he didn’t act in any way other than a brave soldier that fought heroically for an evil regime.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Dinkel

    It was a very well written book and easy to read. It offered insight into the life of a Waffen-SS solider and his life during the war. I have read accounts from many different soldiers in WWII on both sides of the conflict, but this was my first account from a Waffen-SS member. It was refreshing to read Erwin's honesty about some aspects (like his admiration for Hitler growing up) but I question his total ignorance of the death camps. I am also sure he was aware of atrocities that LSSAH committe It was a very well written book and easy to read. It offered insight into the life of a Waffen-SS solider and his life during the war. I have read accounts from many different soldiers in WWII on both sides of the conflict, but this was my first account from a Waffen-SS member. It was refreshing to read Erwin's honesty about some aspects (like his admiration for Hitler growing up) but I question his total ignorance of the death camps. I am also sure he was aware of atrocities that LSSAH committed. It is still worth a read as long as you keep in mind that he is going to have his bias. I also wish Erwin had commented more on what happened to his family after the war.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joel Ungar

    Good story but a little unsatisfying Very engaging story of an ordinary solider in the Waffen SS. It would have benefited from a little better editing once translated to English. The author glosses over things that might put him in an unflattering light, and I suppose that is to be expected. He dances around the Final Solution and his lack of knowledge. He shares a story that a Jewish family was living in plain sight near his parents late in the war, and that is just hard to accept. Still, worth re Good story but a little unsatisfying Very engaging story of an ordinary solider in the Waffen SS. It would have benefited from a little better editing once translated to English. The author glosses over things that might put him in an unflattering light, and I suppose that is to be expected. He dances around the Final Solution and his lack of knowledge. He shares a story that a Jewish family was living in plain sight near his parents late in the war, and that is just hard to accept. Still, worth reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Mose

    A memoir of a youth in the Waffen SS This book is a readable account of joining and fighting for the Waffen SS, as told by the author. Starting with civilian life as a youth and getting into the military, this book is worth reading to hear it from the ground, from an enlisted perspective of the axis point of view. Recollections of personal experiences in fighting on the eastern front, of personal milestones of a youngster becoming a man and the feelings of being on the losing side of WWII. A tale A memoir of a youth in the Waffen SS This book is a readable account of joining and fighting for the Waffen SS, as told by the author. Starting with civilian life as a youth and getting into the military, this book is worth reading to hear it from the ground, from an enlisted perspective of the axis point of view. Recollections of personal experiences in fighting on the eastern front, of personal milestones of a youngster becoming a man and the feelings of being on the losing side of WWII. A tale of a Baker, Soldier, POW and again a Baker.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alistaire King

    Mixture of truth and denial A rose tinted view of life in the Liebstandarte. Despite the list of atrocities laid at the door of this division the author saw and heard nothing. At times this reads as a whitewash of the divisions record. You get the impression that the Germans were the victims as we hear nothing about the destruction visited upon Russia or any other country. We do get a more truthful impression of how Nazism had influenced that generation with the notable exception of anti semitism Mixture of truth and denial A rose tinted view of life in the Liebstandarte. Despite the list of atrocities laid at the door of this division the author saw and heard nothing. At times this reads as a whitewash of the divisions record. You get the impression that the Germans were the victims as we hear nothing about the destruction visited upon Russia or any other country. We do get a more truthful impression of how Nazism had influenced that generation with the notable exception of anti semitism which fails to make an appearance.

  26. 5 out of 5

    MacWithBooksonMountains Marcus

    A great WW2 account of a German Waffen SS soldier that doesn’t dilute or even falsify like so many other writers the original reading experience by uncalled for hindsight. Instead, Bartmann let’s the reader be the judge by just being honest and non apologetic about his experiences as a member of the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. As he says himself at the age of 88 he is “already with one foot on the threshold to the heavens” and therefore has nothing to gain by being disingenuous.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Butterworth

    For a personal view of experiences from the front, this book is remarkably well detailed with details of his struggles. Whilst the SS in general is seen as a "criminal" organization as a whole, this reveals the individual perspective and humanity behind someone who feels the need to defend his homeland without the hysteria that typically surrounds these kinds of military operations. A great read. For a personal view of experiences from the front, this book is remarkably well detailed with details of his struggles. Whilst the SS in general is seen as a "criminal" organization as a whole, this reveals the individual perspective and humanity behind someone who feels the need to defend his homeland without the hysteria that typically surrounds these kinds of military operations. A great read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine Bauman

    I had great sympathy for the author as a young boy and could totally relate to the “fun and excitement” of his experiences and indoctrination. However, after that there was so much whitewashing and rose tinted glasses in describing his experiences. Lastly, after 60+ years I was very suspicious of his highly detailed day by day memories. I just didn’t buy it! Had he any empathy for all those allies and innocents killed and maimed by his generation?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Merideth Sears

    An interesting account of the eastern front by a Waffen SS soldier As a German american whose father served in the us army in the Pacific, I have an interest in the experiences of the common German soldier. Bartmann tells his story in an intriguing manner and keeps the reader engaged. I did find the use of German army terminology throughout to be confusing at times.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Well first of all, pretty good memoir about the ost-front. Erwin is really lucky guy. Its hard to grasp why he made it but the thousand of other have perished. Erwin is quite happy to talk about Russians role in the war crimes, but not about his unit deeds. after all its the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and I`m quite sure about the war crimes this unit committed. Well first of all, pretty good memoir about the ost-front. Erwin is really lucky guy. Its hard to grasp why he made it but the thousand of other have perished. Erwin is quite happy to talk about Russians role in the war crimes, but not about his unit deeds. after all its the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and I`m quite sure about the war crimes this unit committed.

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