By Johann Voss
Initially written whereas the writer used to be a prisoner of the US military in 1945–46, Black Edelweiss is a boon to severe historians and WWII buffs alike. In an afternoon during which such a lot memoirs are written at part a century’s distance, the previous could be gratified through the author’s targeted remember facilitated through the chronologically short-range (a topic of 1 to seven years) at which the occasions have been captured in writing. either will savour and revel in the abundantly specific, awfully exact wrestle episodes.
Even greater than the strictly army narrative, notwithstanding, the writer has crafted a searingly candid view into his personal brain and soul. As such, Black Edelweiss is far greater than a "ripping yarn" or a low-level army background. Black Edelweiss joins not just the turning out to be physique of German army memoirs, however the extra decide upon, extra narrowly-focused crew of private memoirs by way of different Waffen-SS enlisted males. past the microcosmic view of strive against those books relate—to the level that they're sincere and candid—such books are vital for what they could exhibit approximately their authors’ motivations and reflections on these impulses and their results. up to now, those works range significantly.
As it joins the ranks of the books during this style, Black Edelweiss makes a different and extremely vital contribution. it's a precise, own account of the author’s warfare years, first in class and then with the Waffen-SS, which he joined early in 1943 on the age of seventeen. For a 12 months and a part, the writer fought as a desktop gunner in SS-Mountain Infantry Regiment eleven "Reinhard Heydrich," customarily within the arctic and sub-arctic reaches of Soviet Karelia and Finland, and later on the Western frontier of the 3rd Reich. The characters within the tale are actual, and the conversations and activities are mentioned to the simplest of his skill from the fast distance at which he wrote the manuscript in 1945–46.
Apart from the piercing insights into the query of why the German soldier fought as he did, what makes this e-book really specified is the author’s anguished, but resolute exam of the dialectic among the honorable and valorous comportment of his comrades and the essentially reprehensible behavior of approximately 35,000 males in the back of the entrance traces who however wore a similar uniform.
During his captivity, the writer used to be assigned for a time as a clerk to a US military pass judgement on recommend General’s Corps officer, and within the functionality of his administrative tasks, the writer had entry to the mounting reams of documentation of the Holocaust. His growing to be popularity of the involvement of Waffen-SS group of workers within the tremendous crimes of that technique triggered him to dig deeply into his soul, to envision his such a lot intimate and personal motivations and options, and to reevaluate the main easy assumptions of his lifestyles to that time. the writer captured this strategy and the outcome within the notes which grew to become this book.
Honestly, forthrightly, and courageously informed, Black Edelweiss is a priceless present to historians and different scholars of global battle II. It not just presents a glimpse into the attributes that made the German defense force an impressive and tenacious foe, yet squarely confronts the main painful factor dealing with German international warfare II veterans commonly, and Waffen-SS veterans in particular.
Supported by way of 22 photographs, eight maps, and notes.
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Additional info for Black Edelweiss: A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS
That one question became deeply engraved on our maturing minds during the war years. My response was simple enough: serve the best way I could. There was nothing specific in that except for the vague notion of belonging to a group which would have more than its normal share of duties. It was long after midnight on that night in September 1942 when we ended our talk. I put out the light and opened the curtains, drawn closed for the blackout, to let in fresh air. Moonlight poured into the room, and I could see the outlines of two familiar objects on top of the bookcase by the window: my father's World War One steel helmet and his sword.
For me, the Gothic War had all the elements of a drama; it was full of conflicts of characters and ideas, of love and death, of fortune and of ruin. * The events lay far back in the mist of history, some fourteen hundred years ago, the age when great myths were born: the Nibelungen, King Arthur, Lancelot, and, last but not least, Dietrich von Bern, the great Theoderich, king of the Ostrogoths. Altogether, it was a setting that let the contesting figures and concepts appear untainted and flawless in the way the young of any age want the world to be.
I probably used some more arguments and talked somewhat more gently and certainly more clumsily. In my father's ears, what I said might have even sounded like propaganda but I did say that I was going my own way and why. He must have understood, for he dropped the matter without further comment. Perhaps it was also because of his strong dislike for discussing abstract subjects, all "isms" in particular. He often covered what was going on inside himself with a quick change to cheerfulness. He looked at his watch and briskly put on his gloves.