“Remarkable personal journals…revealing the combat experience of the German-Russian War as seldom seen before…a harrowing yet poignant story.”—Military Times
Hans Roth was a member of the anti-tank (Panzerjager) battalion, 299th Infantry Division, attached to Sixth Army, as the invasion of Russia began. As events transpired, he recorded the tension as the Germans deployed on the Soviet frontier in June 1941. Then a firestorm broke loose as the Wehrmacht tore across the front, forging into the primitive vastness of the East.
During the Kiev encirclement, Roth's unit was under constant attack as the Soviets desperately tried to break through the German ring. At one point, after the enemy had finally been beaten, a friend serving with the SS led him to a site—possibly Babi Yar—where he witnessed civilians being massacred. After suffering through a brutal winter against apparently endless Russian reserves, his division went on the offensive again, as the Germans drove toward Stalingrad.
In these journals, attacks and counterattacks are described in you-are-there detail. Roth wrote privately, as if to keep himself sane, knowing his honest accounts of the horrors in the East could never pass Wehrmacht censors. When the Soviet counteroffensive of winter 1942 begins, his unit is stationed alongside the Italian 8th Army, and his observations of its collapse, as opposed to the reaction of the German troops sent to stiffen its front, are of special fascination.
Roth’s three journals were discovered many years after his disappearance, tucked away in the home of his brother. After his brother’s death, his family discovered them and sent them to Rosel, Roth’s wife. In time, Rosel handed down the journals to Erika, Roth’s only daughter, who had emigrated to America. Roth was likely working on a fourth journal before he was reported missing in action in July 1944. Although his ultimate fate remains unknown, what he did leave behind, now finally revealed, is an incredible firsthand account of the horrific war the Germans waged in Russia.