Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front
By Günter Koschorrek
Read by Nigel Patterson
Published by Tantor Audio, July 2018
Length: 9 hours 41 minutes
Günter Koschorrek was a 19-year-old German Army machine gunner who was sent to Stalingrad in 1942. Assigned to a dismounted Kavallerie brigade, his unit was able to escape encirclement. Their escape was a close-run thing, their positions were over run by Soviet armor and they were saved only by crossing the frozen Don River on foot under fire. Koschorrek was wounded and evacuated back to Germany.
After recuperating, he was briefly assigned to Italy on anti-partisan duties, then back to the Eastern Front. This time he was part of a well-equipped and supported “fire brigade” unit tasked with countering Soviet penetrations in the front lines. After each action, they were withdrawn to quarters in a local village. This inevitably came to an end as the Soviet offensives gained momentum, eventually resulting in a general retreat back to Germany.
This is a very gritty tale of combat on the Eastern Front from the perspective of a common infantryman where the hardships were many. Koschorrek was one of the very few from his original group to survive the war, and he himself was wounded six times. He avoided being sent to the Soviet Gulags after the war by aggravating one of his wounds and being hospitalized.
The audiobook is read by Nigel Patterson, who has an English accent. I found this a little odd at first for a German memoir but grew used to it as the book went on. Patterson did quite well with the occasional German rank or phrase. The translation is also very English, with German soldiers being referred to as “blokes” and that sort of thing. An odd error is the Soviets are often described as being armed with “Kalashnikovs” instead of the expected PPSH-41s or Mosen-Nagants, perhaps another problem with the translation.
I listened to this book while travelling to the Cincinnati IPMS show, a good way to get some benefit from the dead time while driving. The book was “loaned” from the local library to my cell phone, a very welcome option when needed. This was an interesting book which I can recommend to anyone interested in the Second World War on the Eastern Front.