who was drafted in fall 1943, hardly 18 years old,  to a tank infantry group around Kiew (Ukraine).

It seems this “resistance after the fact” is the only source of identity left in todays Germany. Like in  former East Germany, the drugs get harder, as the effect is wearing out. The  journalist Johannes Gross said once : ” The longer the Third Reich is gone, all the more the resistance against Hitler and his Third Reich is increasing in Germany.” He described once the retrospective anti-fascism, in which the German media operates and its weird results:  So a  new television drama about wartime Germany stirred up little controversy. German television viewers are used to frequent programmes exploring their guilt in the Nazi era and the second world war especially in state TV, for which everybody is forced to pay.  Just  Polish officials balked at being represented too Anti-Semitic.  Few survivors of the second world war are left, besides they are too old,  to fight a losing war about the truth in todays Germany, which seems pointless.  Everybody can see the lies are piling up so fast nowadays, you need wings to stay above it. Many Germans are fascinated by Nazism and deal obsessively with it – just almost always because of the wrong reasons. Is it not progress that the people – deal after decades of repression – all that  critical with the Nazi  period?  Not, if it has a pronounced tendency to virtual acts and symbolic acts, just  to position themselves on the side of good – without any risk and effort.

Inherited sin

Nearly 70 years after the end of the Third Reich and in the EU crisis, the German politicians  feel compelled to keep their country’s Nazi history alive. “It’s not about guilt any more, but it is about collective responsibility,” says Arnd Bauerkämper, a  professor of history and cultural studies at the Free University in Berlin.   “It’s never over,” read a headline for an interview with Nico Hofmann, producer of the series. So it’s about unlimited collective responsibility forever and for everybody – even for people who were born after the deed and of coures my father.

Interesting, with this argument, we are in a religious realm – that of the Original Sin (Erbsünde) –  minus redemption  and with no absolution, not even for the innocent.  It has been said, communists want to build the heaven on earth, but those people want to build a never-ending Dante’s hell for whom?  Not much like  a Christian belief  indeed, which knows at least confession.  More like some sort of pathologic projection their own Shadow in a Jungian sense on somebody else, to feel relief. This post-modern history soap opera  has indeed reminded me that this is my last chance to talk to a survivor, to my father who is 87, to pass on some truth orally to my son and write it up.  Dont, get me wrong, the Third Reich was as evil as Stalin’s regime was and the war in the East was fought on the dark terms of Stalin  – a war of extermination. Lenin, then Stalin had fought this war against the Russians since 1923.

I  accept history is  never over. History lessons are either learned or repeated, but History is the story of the past, told at present for present purposes. Little is to learn from distorted history. Historian in the meantime, pursue less fact research, they track now down narratives. Traditional historians believe, that primary sources should be used to research history, whereas  postmodern historians claim because of a different age in a different culture, the historian of today has no way of interpreting these sources accurately,therefore again they are not to be trusted and rely more on secondary sources and individual perception of historical events. So the make up stories and call that history. Lets face it, we live in a world of Maybe-Academics, Maybe-Journalist, Maybe-Analysts, Maybe-Churches and of course Maybe-Politicians today in the West. We, ourselves, are the Generation “ Maybe“. One cigarette company advertises with the slogan Don’t be a maybe”, but universalism is just as out as the truth, the evil and the good.

We can come close to truth, however, by numbers and by witness accounts. Listen to our fathers and grandparents.


My father did not talk much about the war, but I know a few basic facts.  He came October 1943 to the East Front  the Ukraine.  For two years he experienced basically only chaos, defeats and retreat operations until he was finally captured  on May 1st 45 close toKottbus in Eastern Germany – eight days before the war was over. A country boy, who was drafted  when he turned 18, fought basically as “grunt” for his life. He served until 1945 and subsequently  four years longer as prisoner of war in coal mine under very harsh conditions. 1949  he returned to Germany with empty hands, which lost not only a war but any moral standards and cared little about  foot soldiers busying itself with clearing the rubble and starting the Wirtschaftswunder. Nevertheless, he became a good father and husband and raised me fairly well. He told me little about this time, only that he almost got court marshalled two times. Once he was watched laughing over a propaganda poster and one time after a frontal assault of the Russians (he was an army machine gunner). Reason was, he had to open his last ammunition box, having killed wave after wave of soldiers driven into the bullet hail by Stalin’spoltical  commissars. It was us or them, but his last box unfortunately contained food which he stashed away. But there is always more ammunition. What comes across strongly from these accounts is that after 1943 most intelligent Germans accepted that the war was lost. The Economist, an American paper wrote about the Germans; ” If they fought on it was out of desperation or camaraderie” or being shot or because they could simply could not think of another choice.  The article was fair but the author should have read what American soldiers, who served in Vietnam, Gulf I and II or Afghanistan wrote … the very same.

Asked about the  television drama, my father said he saw a bit and switched it off, but the piece he saw did not whatsoever reflected reality or resembled his experience.  The  atrocities in the TV—one fictional executes a Soviet commissar, the other a Jewish girl—may have come from circumstances: obey or die, but that was not the point. The killing was industrial, mass killing. The real war criminals where those who ordered them for their gain – on both sides.



The Russians were at war since 1923  and until 1953:

  • Killed Non-combatants: The Soviets during the Stalin period, killed approximately six million non-combatants rising to almost twelve million including starvation. To this total figure of civilians deliberately killed under Stalinism of six million one must add indirect deaths of Stalin’s own people during the war. Million of Russian civilians would routinely left to starve in battle areas the Germans would invade after destroying any infrastructure and housing (scorched earth policy) even city battle areas like Stalingrad.
  • The Russian soldiers were not better off. Political commissars and NKDW in their back would shot them if they retreated. About two million ended up prison battalions, often used for human wave front assaults where their survival rate was a few days. After the war Russian POWs were screened and often sent to Gulags or shot.In pure numbers Stalin’s regime killed far, far more people than Hitler and less than Mao. Discussion of numbers, however, can blunt our sense of the horrific personal character of each killing and the irreducible tragedy of each death.
  • Political Prisoners: Judging in detail and  from the Soviet records, the number of people who died in the Gulag the total figure for the entire Stalinist period is likely between two million and three million. In 1937, as his vision of modernization faltered, Stalin ordered the Great Terror in 1930s.  At the war’s end the Soviets killed tens of thousands of people in their own “reprisals,” especially in the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine. Some 363,000 German soldiers died in Soviet captivity. The Great Terror and other shooting actions killed another million people.
  • Starved Russians: The largest human catastrophe of Stalinism was the famine of 1930–1933, in which more than five million people died. Of those who starved, the 3.3 million or so inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine who died in 1932 and 1933 were victims of a deliberate killing policy related to nationality. In early 1930, Stalin had announced his intention to “liquidate” prosperous peasants (“kulaks”) as a class so that the state could control agriculture and use capital extracted from the countryside to build industry. Tens of thousands of people were shot by Soviet state police and hundreds of thousands deported. Those who remained lost their land and often went hungry as the state requisitioned food for export just like Mao did 1958. The first victims of starvation were the nomads of Soviet Kazakhstan, where about 1.3 million people died. Stalin requisitioned grain in Soviet Ukraine which ensured mass death.
  • Intentions: Beyond the numbers killed remains the question of intent. Stalin killed civilians almost exclusively in connection with the practice of eliminating large numbers of its own citizens particularly the elite and peasants. Mass murder in the Soviet Union also involved national and ethnic motivations, disconcertingly close to the Nazi ones. Indeed it was Stalin, not Hitler, who initiated the first ethnic killing campaigns in interwar Europe. Until World War II, Stalin’s regime was by far the more murderous of the two. Nazi Germany began to kill on the Soviet scale only after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in the summer of 1939 and the joint German-Soviet invasion killing 200,000 Polish civilians, each regime responsible for about half of 200 000 deaths.
  • Methods: Most of the Soviet killing took place in times of peace, some related more or less distantly to an ideologically flawed vision of modernization but mostly class warfare, one might say warfare against its own citizens and any human standard and nature.

This is list of casualties in official genocides last century.  Does that set Hitler’s army right?  No it doesn’t – but a wet dream of some journalists selling fiction as “carefully researched history” certainly doesn’t cut it. Do numbers explain evil? No, not alone. Never forget: “History is the story of the Past, told at present for present purpose”.

  • Pol Pot (Cambodia, 1975-79) 1,700,000
  • Mao Ze-Dong (China, 1958-61 and 1966-69, Tibet 1949-50) 49-78,000,000 (around 40 million during the great leap) – Numbers disputed
  • Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945) 12,000,000 (5.8 million jews killed in concentration camps, plus non-combatants killed during WWII plus 2.6 million Russian POWs to die from hunger)
  • Jozef Stalin (USSR, 1932-53) 20-11,000,000 (the gulags plus the purges of the Great Terror plus Ukraine’s 5 millions famine) – Numbers disputed
  • (Japan, 1941-44) 5,000,000 (civilians in WWII)
  • (Germany, 1933-1945) Civilians killed by Allied Aerial Bombardment  635 000 and Expulsion/Deportation Civilian Dead/Missing 1,260,000 –  “I wanted to do something extraordinary”. Sir Harris
  • (Turkey, 1915-20) 1,200,000 Armenians (1915) + 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks (1916-22) + 500,000 Assyrians (1915-20) – Numbers disputed
  • (Belgium Congo, 1886-1908) 8,000,00

The real story as my father told it

My father, born on the 23rd June 1925 arrived  in the Ukraine during the first big Red Army 1943 fall offensive. This offensive occured six month after the battle of  Stalingrad which raged between July 17, 1942 and February 2, 1943  in which the Axis suffered 1 500,000 casualties of all types (wounded, killed, captured…etc) among all branches of the German armed forces and its allies including PoWs who died in Soviet captivity between 1943 and 1955 (of  91,000 German POWs taken at Stalingrad  only 5,000 returned to Germany in 1955).

World War II was over when it began for my father.



He was a “Panzergrenadier”  –  a soldier who moves and fights by means of armoured infantry and mostly fights dismounted. They accompany their own battle tanks  and fight in their operations with related forces :  dismounted enemy infantry and enemy armored vehicles and tanks with anti-tank hand weapons.  My understanding  of his words is, this means essentially fighting and running around unarmored during tank battles and fighting enemy tanks with little more than bare hands.  Not much time to shoot political Commissars, but  those are usual in the back of the Red Army forces shooting them in case of Russian retreat anyway.

The Soviet summer and early autumn campaign of 1943 led to the retreat of army group South up to the Dnieper. The end of September the German front line between Kiev and Zaporozhye on the West Bank with the exception of some Russian bridgeheads between Derijewka and Dnipropetrovsk could be stabilized. The “Red Army” for October prepared two offensives, which split South by a surge in the industrial area of Krivoy Rog. The Soviet army broke through the German front lines between Derijewka and Werchne-Dnjeprowsk. The army group command hadutilized all accessible motorized forces in the threatened section in the face of this dangerous enemy advance into the heart of the industrial area. The “Red Army” withdrew 25 km on a front line north of Krivoy Rog between Ingulec and the railway to Werchne-Dnjeprowsk. However, the forces of army group South were no longer able, to throw back the enemy on the Dnieper River. At that time big tank battles happen in the Ukraine. In Kiev two offensives and one tank defensive by the Soviet Red Army, and one operational counterattack by the Wehrmacht  took place in the wake of the failed German offensive at Kursk between 3 October and 22 December 1943. Immediately afterwards the Soviets launched their winter offensive on Christmas Eve. The renamed Voronezh Front Offensive succeeded in pushing the Germans back to the 1939 Polish border 1944.

October 1943

The Red Army takes Dnipropetrovsk and finally conquered Kiev, broke the Dnieper line, and inflicted massive casualties on the 4th Panzer Army. .

In the same month

  • United States VII Corps arrives in European Theater.
  • Italy switches sides and  declares war on Germany.
  • The Bombing of Kassel causes a seven-day firestorm.

November 1943

The Red Army offensive in the Ukraine continues. The Germans retreated before the onslaught and eventually my father must have withdrawn to the Dnieper River, the third largest river in Europe. At one point I remember, my father said he hardly survived  crossing a wide river in the Ukraine, the Dieper as they hoped to stop the Soviets there. However, in November the Soviets had managed to establish several bridgeheads across the river and the Germans were once again facing a crisis in the east. The Red Army takes the city of Kiev in  November. This is an anniversary of the Russian Revolution in 1917.

In the same month

  • In the  Tehran conference (28 Nov 1943):  Joseph Stalin, President Franklin D. Roosevelt of the United States, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom divide Europe after the war.
  •  Huge civilian losses in Berlin as heavy bombing raids continue.

December 1943

The battles in the Ukraine raged most of December with both sides throwing considerable forces into the engagements. The Germans never managed to recapture Kiev. By the end of December the German panzer divisions were worn down while the Soviets launched another major offensive on Christmas Eve forcing the Germans, onto the defensive but they contained most of these attacks and the Soviets suffered considerable losses. On the 29th of December for instance the Soviets attacked with 150 tanks against against  four tigers, eight mark IVs, seventeen panthers, fifteen StuGs IIIs and 4 marders failed destroying approximately 59 Soviet tanks in the process.  In the end the Soviets failed to break the rail link with Army Group Center or envelop Army Group South but they had broken the Dnieper line, and inflicted massive casualties on the 4th Panzer Army. The Germans, for their part, had kept the vital rail link open.

Winter – Summer 44 holding the front

According to my father, that situation was a continued back and forth off offensive and counter offensive but not a break trough occurred. Things got worse again in Summer 44, with compared to other battles, the  greatest Soviet victory in numerical terms. The Red Army recaptured vast amount of Soviet territory.  The German army never recovered from the material and personnel losses sustained during this time, having lost about a quarter of its Eastern Front manpower, similar to the percentage of loss at Stalingrad (about 20 full divisions). These losses included many experienced soldiers, NCOs and other officers, which at this stage of the war the Wehrmacht could not replace. It was an offensive of deception

Summer 44 retreat to Warsaw.

The Front Summer 44

The Front Summer 44

For the summer of 1944, Hitler and the OKH expected the  focus of the fighting in the South.  For the center of the eastern front, only small battles battles were expected. Thus an army group was with 36 divisions into four armies in an approximately 700 km of front bow is moved from Vitebsk to South through the Pripjet swamps in a long semi-circle around Belarus.

On April 2, 1944, Hitler again and explicitly demanded unconditional keeping the achieved front in the East. Rejected the proposal of the withdrawal in the shortest line between Riga and Odessa by Hitler.  In May 1944, the intelligence enemy situation changed .  The Red Army unnoticed a tank army in the center. The army itself was expecting an imminent Soviet major offensive starting in June 1944, but was ignored in the  high command. Instead, a number of so-called fixed sites with Vitebsk, Orsha, Mogilev and Bobruisk was defined. Such “forts” had proved useless already in the Crimea and Ukraine, and brought heavy losses without much holding up the advance of the Red Army. 4 Fronts of the Red Army opened its offensive against the Middle Eastern front on 22/23/24.6.1944. In the back of army group centrally led actions took place with approximately 240,000 partisans, which cut off all supply and return lines for the German armies. On the night of the 19th / 20.6.1944 over 10,000 explosions took place, which halted all railway lines west of Minsk and totally cut train service for days. After 5 days, the German leadership had to accept the fact that the entire army group front was broken irrevocably and completely:  the mass of the North the 3rd Panzer army was crushed in the front Arch of Vitebsk, the mass of in the southern arch 9 army around Bobruisk. Hastily, reinforcements were thrown from the southern front in the gap of 400 km, which resulted in quick  encirclements  of a number of German divisions in Witebesk, Mogilev and Bobruisk, a looming disaster.  The military development had already overtaken all countermeasures leading to chaos.  These days, the Soviet operation direction aimed at Minsk, which quickly taken  3.7.1944 after a short resistance. The Soviet made some 50 to 90 km on the day. Panicky conditions developed in the German rear area, also the CR-standing divisions in Belarus fled in huge flows to the Berezina River. The mass German forces of  escaped encirclements crossed Berezina River bridges near Minsk. After the capture of Minsk, it was clear that the Belarus land bridges could not held against the rapidly advancing armoured units .  In July 1944, the front was relocated into open flat Poland already. Only on the Vistula River, the Soviet offensive could be stopped. But the Red Army managed to win 2 large Vistula bridgeheads usen in January 1945,  in the next offensive westward.

 ….To be continued – until his release as PoW 1949

Einsatzgebiet Zeitraum Ausführliche Beschreibung Maßstab
Mitteleuropa 1940 ~ 1:2.000.000
Ostfront 1944.07.25. 1:1.000.000
Ostfront 1944.08.19. 1:1.000.000
Ostfront 1945.10.01. 1:1.000.000
Ostfront 1945.02.26. 1:1.000.000
Ostfront 18/03/1945. 1:1.000.000
Ostfront 18/04/1945. 1:1.000.000
Ostfront 1944.08.20-1944.12.31. n / a
Ostfront 1945.03.16-1945.04.15. n / a
Kiew 1940 ~ 1:50.000