With Our Backs to Berlin

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Even in retreat, the German Army was still a force to be reckoned with and vigorously defended every last bridge, castle, town and village against the massive Russian onslaught. Tony Le Tissier has interviewed a wide range of former German Army and SS soldiers to provide ten vivid first-hand accounts of the fighting retreat that, for one soldier, ended in Hitler's Chancellery building in the ruins of Berlin in April The dramatic descriptions of combat are contrasted with insights into the human dimension of these desperate battles, reminding the reader that many of the German soldiers whose stories we read shared similar values to the average British 'Tommy' or the American GI and were not all crazed Nazis.

Illustrated with photographs of the main characters and specially commissioned maps identifying the location and course of the battles, With Our Backs to Berlin is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in the final days of the Second World War. He was British governor of the infamous Spandau Prison in Berlin from He lives in Frome. This is an amazing book of accounts written, with one exception, by members of the small percentage of German soldiers who emerged relatively unscathed from the final battle for Berlin in Their stories sometimes seem to show unbelievable luck, until one realises that most of their comrades were not so lucky and were killed; a few survived and these are their stories.

As stated in the other revues, Willi Rogmann's account seems incredible. Yet he received medals for actions which were equally incredible and were fully documented. Writing as someone who spent 11 years in Germany and therefore has some understanding of the German psyche and social interactions, I believe Rogmann's story.


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That saw him through where a great many others didn't make it. It would make a heck of a film! It provides many insights into the nature of loyalty, bravery and what is like to take place in desperate defence without any real hope of ultimate victory. It should be of interest to anyone interested in what is was like to serve in the German forces at that time.

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It is true that the account given in the last chapter of the book "The Band of the Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler" by Willi Rogmann does seem a bit far-fetched in places. However in the Appendix the author does invite the reader to assess the credibility of his story. Soviet T tanks on the battlefield. The Klessin position as seen from the German lines at Point Thick trees cover the site of the Schloss in the centre, with the new houses on the Wuhden road to the left.

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Horst Zobel on a battlefield tour with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in The demolition hole is indicated by the missing parapet. The overgrown site of Schloss Klessin today. The Wuhden memorial to those who fell on the Reitwein Spur.

Gerhard Tillery on home leave in Harry Zvi Glaser in The Zoo Flak-tower from across the Landwehr Canal during dismantling. Harry Schweizer in Hitler Youth uniform. Soviet anti-tank guns in action in Berlin.

With Our Backs to Berlin

A wrecked Soviet T facing the Reichstag on Moltkestrasse. Soviet tanks push through the rubble. Firstly, the courage and tenacity of her soldiers when, inadequately equipped, they ultimately found themselves defending this country against the whole world. Secondly, the 20 July plot, when those who had taken part so nearly succeeded in ridding their country of a monster who had ruled over them for eleven years and who claimed their lives when they failed.

With Our Backs to the Wall by David Stevenson: review - Telegraph

Only one of these stories covers the fighting on the Western front, where the US 94th Infantry Division had to breach the Siegfried Line in the severest of winter conditions, the infantry units suffering up to per cent casualties. Erich Wittor describes an encounter with history and a Stuka ace at Kunnersdorf, and returns later with a longer account of the confused action at Marxdorf.

Harry Schweizer recalls his experiences as a schoolboy anti-aircraft gunner posted to the Berlin Zoo flak-tower; and how, briefly, he got a taste of tank-busting with the SS. Karl-Hermann Tams describes the defence of Seelow, with a motley platoon of sailors and soldiers who suffered over 90 per cent casualties cowering under the greatest artillery bombardment in history.

Rudi Averdieck, then a regimental radio sergeant, describes the harrowing retreat from Seelow to Berlin, and how he became involved with a newly-organised armoured brigade that had only one mission, to surrender to the Americans. Quite properly, there are two Jokers in the pack. One is an account by Harry Zvi Glaser, a Latvian Jew who joined the Red Army and tells of his experiences at Halbe, where the remnants of the German 9th Army and its accompanying refugees suffered over 40, killed.