Book Review: Grandfather's Tale: The Tale of a German Sniper by Timothy Erenberger



Grandfather's Tale: The Tale of a German Sniper
by Timothy Erenberger
Pages: 317 (Paperback) ISBN 0-595-16462-5


Book Description
Every grandfather has a tale and this is the tale of Georg Frick, a German sniper for the German Army during World War II. Georg Frick is an old man now, but in 1937 the German Army drafted him.

Grandfather’s Tale is the story of Georg’s transformation from reluctant new soldier into a master sniper. Georg fought in dozens of battles in several countries, including Poland, Belgium, the Soviet Union, Crete, Italy and Germany. After proving himself to be an exceptional sniper, he joined a special team of German paratroopers. This group of expert soldiers was parachuted into Eben Emael, the strongest single fortress in the world!

Georg's story is one of adventure and survival under extreme circumstances, including the brutal Soviet winter, and the final battle, the Battle of Berlin. Join Georg as he recounts his harrowing experiences to his grandson, in hopes that he may learn the lessons of war, and not repeat them.

Grandfather's Tale is an action-packed journey through the entirety of the Word War II. German weapons, tactics and strategy on a platoon level are explained with meticulous detail. Several battles, including the Battle of the Bulge and the Invasion of Crete are told from a German perspective.

First part of review

First thing of all I should point out is that this is not real memoirs… This is a fiction book about Germans in WWII. If you want to read, and I would advise you to read a book about the German perspective then It would be “The Forgotten Soldier” by Guy Sajer. At least that book is not fiction. Even some people disputed it. (There will be always people who will dispute books about Germans on WWII. Jews and communists and allied fanatics will never be pleased and will never believe that there were good Germans, Germans who fought in the war because their country need them and they were ordered of course. And to them I would say something… but I won’t. I know story is written by the victors and victims. And the Germans were also victims. Before the war, in the war and after the war. Specially the soldiers. After the war ended the Germans soldiers who were capture (mostly) by the Soviet Union were or killed or put in the gulags. They executed more men in prisoner camps then in fields of battle. (This is a part history, if you just want to read the review just go to the end.)

The Beginning of a History Lesson

I will then put here some of the crimes that the Soviet Union made and in the end they were called the Saviors and the Germans beasts… Right?

From the beginning… Not counting with the The Ukrainian famine (1932-1933), or Holodomor as it is recalled… vary by several millions and numbers as high as 10 million. There isn’t an exact number since NKVD (the name prior KGB) didn’t made many records of that period. (Go figure out). Nowadays the numbers have dropped to around 4.8 millions in one year. The map that I show here is the Rate of population decline in Ukraine and South Russia.





Now let’s go to the war time, yes?

(I took this phrase from the wikipedia that says the following)

“Soviet war crimes gives a short overview about serious crimes, which probably offend against international law, committed by the Red Army's (1918-1946, later Soviet Army) leadership and an unknown number of single members of the Soviet armed forces during in 1919 - 1990 including those in Eastern Europe in late 1944 and early 1945, particularly murder and rape. Neither by any international military jurisdiction the Red Army’s leadership or any of its members have ever been charged with, nor has anyone of those ever been convicted of war crimes by a court of law.” (The power of… money, power, corruption and fear)

Now let us begin… and they begin with their own troops….

“From 1941 on, Stalin was willing to strike back against the invading Axis forces at all costs and led the war with extreme brutality, including against his own soldiers In accordance with the orders of Soviet High Command, retreating soldiers or even soldiers who hesitated to advance faced being shot by rearguard NKVD units: Stalin’s order No 270 of August 16, 1941 states that in case of retreat or surrender, all officers involved were to be shot on the spot and all enlisted men threatened with total annihilation as well as possible reprisals against their families.” (I never remember that to happen in German side, in special cases they had to fight until the end with honor and would be shot if failing that but I’ve never read anything about killing their families if they surrendered/retreat).


During the Winter War


“The Winter War, also known as the Soviet-Finnish War, broke out when the Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30, 1939. In November 2006 pictures showing cannibalism and atrocities committed by Soviet soldiers and partisans conducting cross-border raids against Finnish civilians were declassified by Finnish authorities. The pictures include images of slain women and children. They had been kept secret for so long in order not to disturb relations with the powerful neighbor to the east.”

The winter War, was an interesting one… (Ye know that Christopher Lee, the actor who played Saruman went to that war fighting for the Finns?) It lasted three years and it showed to the world how weak the Russian army was. To compare the Russian outnumbered the Finns 4:1 in men, 100:1 in tanks and 30:1 in aircraft. In that period 500.000 Russian men were either killed or wounded. On Finnish side the dead and wounded didn’t get to 50.000. Ten times less... You know why? The Russian weren’t prepared to the Finnish winter, the generals played by the book and almost all veterans soldiers were killed or disbanded in the Stalin Purge or Great Purge. In the end the Russians won, not by power but because the Finnish army were so small and was almost depleted of men and armament.
Nikita Khrushchev the ruler of soviet union after Stalin said that 1.5 million men were sent to Finland and one million of them were killed, while 1,000 aircraft, 2,300 tanks and armored cars and an enormous amount of other war materials were lost. (The recent history put’s that number of kills around 400.000 men.
What they won? A piece of land worth of nothing and a bay in the northeast part of Finland… the zone they lost now is called Karelia. One Red Army General remarked that "we have won enough ground to bury our dead."


1939–1942


The Red Army, in accordance with the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and 16 days after the German attack on Poland, invaded and occupied the eastern part of Poland and later, as negotiated with the Nazi regime, the Baltic States and parts of the Ukraine and Bessarabia. The Soviet policy in all newly controlled areas was ruthless, showing strong elements of ethnic cleansing. Many tried to escape from the Soviet NKVD; those who failed were mostly taken into custody by the Red Army and afterwards deported to Siberia and/or vanished in the "Gulag". During 1939-1941,nearly 1.5 million inhabitants of Soviet controlled areas of former Poland were deported, of whom 63.1% were Poles or of other nationalities, and 7.4% were Jews. Only a fraction of these deportees survived the war. After the conquest of those parts by the germans countless men of these countries voluntarily joined the Waffen-SS to defend their homelands against the Soviets, whenever the Red Army was approaching.


Germany 1945


On January 12, 1945 army General Cherniakhovsky turned to his troops with the words: There shall be no mercy - for nobody, as there had also been no mercy for us... The land of the fascists must become a desert… However, German civilians were well aware of the way the Red Army was conducting war against civilians from reports by friends and relatives who had served on the eastern front and feared the Red Army. They fled to western counterpart for they knew that the allied forced would never treated like that. Fleeing from the advancing Red Army, more than two million people in the eastern German provinces of (East Prussia, Silesia, and Pomerania) died, some from cold and starvation, in the post-war ethnic cleansing, or killed when they got caught up in combat operations. The main death toll however occurred when the refugee columns were caught up by units of the Red Army. They were overrun by tanks, looted, shot, murdered and women and girls were raped and afterwards left to die. In addition, fighter bombers of the Soviet air force penetrated many kilometers behind the front lines and attacked columns of refugees.

Those who did not flee suffered by taking the burden of Red Army's occupying rules: Murder, rape, robbery, and expulsion. For example, in the East Prussian city of Konigsberg, in August 1945 there were approximately 100,000 German civilians still living there after the Red Army had conquered the city. When the Germans were finally expelled from Konigsberg in 1948, only about 20,000 were still alive. More 80.000 deaths. Despite the unconditional and complete surrender of Demmin to the Red Army, nearly 900 people committed mass suicides in fear of the Red Army. Coroner lists show that most drowned in the nearby River Tollense and River Peene, where others poisoned themselves. Although mass executions of civilians by the Red Army are not reported on a regular basis, there is a known incident in the Treuenbrietzen, where at least 88 male civilians were rounded up and shot on May 1, 1945. This atrocity took place after at a victory celebration of Soviet soldiers, at which numerous girls from Treuenbrietzen were raped and a lieutenant-colonel of the Red Army was shot by an unknown person. Some sources quotes even up to 1,000 were executed in this event.


After the war, rapes and pacifications


Germany
Sources listed below estimate that at the end of World War II, Red Army soldiers raped more than 2,000,000 German women and girls, an estimated 200,000 of whom later died from injuries sustained, committed suicide, or were murdered outright. In addition, many of these victims were raped repeatedly, some as many as 60 to 70 times. If you don’t believe me just search on the internet for rape victims by soviets… you will encounter dozens if not more cases… The rapes continued however until the winter of 1947-48, when the problem was finally solved by the Russian occupation authorities by confining the Soviet troops to strictly guarded posts and camps. It inflicted a massive collective trauma on the East German nation. (It’s not for nothing that the poorest country in europe when the communism fell and German was unified was the East German. Didn’t you know it? And they are still one of the poorest regions in Europe…)


Hungary


Just during the occupation of Budapest it is estimated that 50,000 women and girls were raped in this city alone. Hungarian girls in general were taken to the Soviet quarters where they were incarcerated, raped and sometimes also murdered.

There were also reports of rapes in Yugoslavia, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.

As Stalin point out "understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometers through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?"


Other atrocities


The Soviet military forces did not recognize hospital ships or ships carrying refugees as non-combatants but regarded them as military targets only. More than more than 40,000 civilians and wounded soldiers died when their ships were sunk.

The Soviet Union did not sign the Genevan prisoners of war convention of 1929 until 1955. Accordingly, the Red Army treated at first Polish and later prisoners of war from Germany, Germany's allies and Japan in a cruel way from the first days of WWII on. In 1941 and 1942 over 90 per cent of the caught soldiers of the Axis powers died. Thus for example 1941 made an emergency landing German flight crews were shot frequently after the capture. Tortures, mutilating, murders and other violations of international law were since June 1941 at the agenda. Since winter 1941/42 the Red Army took each month 10,000 German soldiers as prisoner but the death rate lay however so highly that the absolute number of the prisoners decreased/went back. The murder of the prisoners was arranged every now and then by instructions, reports and statements of Soviet commanders. "Captured officers were shot all without exception", it meant in the minute of a Red Army soldier. The death rate was reduced at the beginning of 1943, when with increasing prisoner number the establishment of a system was necessary to implement. 1,1 million died in soviet captivity, that is 1/3 of all German POWs in Soviet captivity.
One specific example of the Soviets' cruelty towards the German POWs was after the Battle of Stalingrad during which the Soviets had captured 91,000 German troops. The prisoners already starved and ill, were marched to war camps in Siberia to face the freezing bitter cold. Of the troops captured in Stalingrad, only 5,000 survived. The last German POWs were released only in 1955, after Stalin had died.


The Résumé


I forgot the purpose and my anger towards the soviet communists just increased again. Each time I read some of the pages I’ve read before I feel hatred towards it. If the Nazis were beasts then I would say that the soviets were daemons. Search on the internet for “Nazis rapes in WWIl”. You will not find any or very few… Wehrmacht were elite armed forces that compressed Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force), but normally we recognized as the army force. At its peak it had more than 18.2 million men. In the end about 2.3 million Wehrmacht soldiers were killed in action; 550,000 died from non-combat causes. More one million died by the end of Soviet forces (POW and executed). 6,035,000 were wounded.They made the fight, and of course as any army there were incidents but never in the numbers of the Red Army. There were also the mythical Waffen-SS division but a particular branch called Totenkopfverbände that administered the concentration camps. There were also Leibstandarte, Adolf Hitler's bodyguard regiment and Verfügungstruppe, up to 39 divisions in World War II that served as elite combat troops alongside the regular army Wehrmacht. More, most Wehrmacht generals were against Hitler and its continuous perilous decisions. There were several attempts against him.


The End of History Lesson



Second part of review

That said let’s go to the book…If you want to read about a real person fighting in the WW2 then read The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer or one of the numerous books by Sven Hassel a Denmark volunteer that fought for the Germans or if you want snipers you’ve got the memoirs of real life WWII German sniper Sepp Allerberger, Sniper on the Eastern Front, written by Albrecht Walker and edited by Geoffrey Brooks. There are also other books by other authors that depicted the life of a German soldier. There is also an interesting book about an Waffen-SS. (a Verfügungstruppe) but unfortunally I can’t recall the name… If you search for the first book I said in Amazon website several others books about Germany in the Second World War will appear…First the story, then the discrepancies

Characters of current timeline:
Georg Frick, Main Character
Ingred Frick – Main Character’s wife
Ron Frick – Main Character’s grandson
George – Main Character’s great-grandson

Characters of WWII timeline
Ellis – Sniper, Veteran from WWI
Misha – Trainee at the same time of Georg (Soldat)
Konrad - Soldat that Georg met in the attack on Eben-Emael.




The story begins with George’s father telling him that he should listen to everything his great-grandfather said so his memory could endure.George, as a young kid after arriving in the farm he goes exploring were he finds a box with several Nazi emblems and medals. Afterwards Georg tells his great-grandson his story…It begins with the draft into the army (Heer/Werhmacht) in 1937. Here he excels in his training and goes to a special training of sniping. The first annexiation of Sudetenland occurs without bloodshed in 38. Chapter 4, begins in the Invasion of Poland in September 1939. The first kill. From this point forward we met several personages, one his mentor called Ellis also a sniper and Veteran from WWI and afterwards in Eben-Emael he meets Konrad which becomes his spotter and friend. He also receives training in parachuting and mine detection. The plot itself we already know from history, the Nazis lost in 1945. But this doesn’t mean that it’s less interesting. After reading Sven Hassel I had some good impressions of true war. Many books that are about war aren’t that real. Sven Hassel’s books are not only about war books but horror books. This book had some parts that remind me of the cruel aspects of Sven Hassel but it lacks something…

The book itself has no plot whatsoever and the characters are minimally described, adjectives are sparse and uninspiring, and phrases and sentences are unimaginative. Every day is the same for young George. He spends them listening to the same basic story set in slightly varying surroundings: Russian soldier spied, shot, killed, victim's ammo (weapons, rations) collected, grenade (bomb, tank shooting) sounded, meal eaten, reflected, slept. (Then it changes to Americans and British and then again Soviet soldiers. Young George is mesmerized by the graphic details.I know that war was like that…

There was plenty of action and everyday was the same, only the surroundings changed and the opponents.In the end after reading the book, there are several aspects you will dislike and others you like. The most annoying thought the reading process was to read the countless typos, grammar errors and redundancy. The end of the book didn’t feel like an plausible end. Alright, there were thousands of men that fought in Poland, Benelux, France, URSS, Italy and Germany. That I believe. And those men were either officials or true survivors. And I also know that when those men bound for a time those men became their shadow and more closely then brothers or wives. They depended on them and they lived because of them. A bounding/feeling incomprehensible to most people outside the scenery of war. I say this because those people would more likely sacrifice for their brother in arms than to the Fuhrer or their motherland. In the end, already in Siege of Berlin in April/May 1945 Konrad who had become Georg best friend was wounded and Georg left him behind in a hospital (he was shot after the soviets captured the hospital). I don’t think the main character or anybody would do it… I have seen relates than people fighting alongside others would never abandoned their brothers into the fate… It’s too cruel and unbelievable.

There were some discrepancies and for that I have loath the writer... First he made arms of one calibre fire with other calibres. Which we all know it’s impossible. Then 88mm flak tanks would never destroy dozens of T34’s in one single shot. Probably Great Bertha would do it, but never a 88mm. (But, It is know that they used them in anti-tank actions)Another thing that bother me was the rate kill. We all know that the Simo Häyhä has the all time record with 542 kills. Of course they are confirmed kills... So there is need it that a person (an officer) would have to be present to confirm and a couple of other soldiers. We all know that snipers in great part of their actions worked alone so I know that some soldiers have killed more than 542 kills. (I believe that Hayha has killed more than 542.)

It’s not hard to kill a man in combat... if you have sub-machine gun just fire away... but the problem is staying alive to make the numbers higher. But the numbers our writer gives us are complentely antonished. By Belgium or Crete (I don’t know which he had more than 1000 kills.)

If you thing that the invasion of Crete was between may and june of 1941. In Russia he killed them by the hundreds... I bet that he killed more than 3000 or 4000 enemies...

Alright!

At the end of the book Georg carried the following arms and ammo...He carried 4 rifles( Kar98k, BAR, M1,and a Tokarev along with a suppressed pistol and a 30 pound bag of ammo.) For moments of the book I thought the named changed to Rambo, but in axis side. There are also other discrepancies about wars being fought and prisioners captured and even the number of the kills in specific battles.

Another thing that bothered me that most of his kills were shot between 700-1100 (as he said some longed for two seconds to hit the target, now just make the count for how long) and all head-shots. (The Russians were killed in their star.) Ahh, I forgot to said that in all shots I only read that he missed a few, I will not say numbers but I only remember missing 2.

Another interesting thing was when the enlisted soldiers salute other enlisted soldiers and call them "Sir.".

The title itself should be changed to Great-Grandfather’s tale.

There were other parts but I will stay here because as I remember some details I feel a bit of weary and feel regrets to wasting more time typing about a lousy book.

I will only advice this book for someone who wants to read a fast-paced novel that doesn’t care about characters, plot or anything else for that mattered. I would advise you all to just play Medal of Honor online and you will feel the same effect than reading it. Ahh, didn’t I tell you that he is a professional game-player? I wonder how the inspiration came…

I don’t know why the book as so many good reviews in amazon.com.
Post a Comment

Popular Posts