by: Darren Baker [ ]
Originally published on:
I will forgo a self written introduction and instead add here the information on the inner back leaf of the cover as I feel it is perhaps the best way to introduce you to this book.
Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt was born on the 21st April 1923 in Hagen, Westphalia. He left for the front on the 27th October 1941, at which point his story begins. He went on to receive several awards for valour. In 1945 he was captured by US Forces and held in a prisoner of war camp for a month before being released to work on the land. He went on to become a veterinarian following his studies of veterinary medicine. He died in 2017
This book looks at the start of his time fighting on the Eastern Front.
This offering from Pen and Sword is a hard backed book of 341 pages. I suppose you could say that the author of this book is Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt with it being his memoirs; however Marc Rikmenspoel and Geoffrey Brooks deserve noting for the introduction and translation of this title. This book is the first of I believe two under the title ‘Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front’ and covers the time period from 26th Oct 1941 to 11th of Aug 1943. Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt served as an infantry man with Grossdeutschland as a mortar man.
This book is written in one of my favourite styles, that of a diary and is as if someone gave you their diary to read warts and all. With that said there is none of the ‘sauerkraut for dinner again’ about this diary. The story if you wish starts with a nine day rail journey from the training camp to the front in Russia. Along with the text there is a nice mix of black and white period photographs which I believe were mostly or all taken by Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt. The entries then follow his life at the front and cover how he felt about the world going on around him during those dark days.
The text in this book written in this style takes away the nationality of the soldier to a good degree, you stop looking at it as a German soldier as part of a mortar unit and start to read it as one man’s war and his emotions in relation to that. The entries start as a fresh faced and trained soldier leaving for the front and as time progresses so the mood of his entries change. The eagerness to be at the foe changes to one of what is going to come along next and how will we deal with it.
The body of this review is quite short but that does not reflect my opinion of the book. Being born in the 60’s meant I was around a lot of men who had fought in this conflict and many of them would say very little about their time fighting the foe, especially so when thinking of those who fought in the 1st World War. It is because of this that I really enjoy books of this nature as it looks at the man in the field of conflict and then how the environment slowly changes the way the person thinks. For those who have never been in conflict of this kind get a visceral sense of what it is like and exposes a person to. I felt so close to this person while reading the entries that I have to look out for the second book covering Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt and his experiences during World War 2.
Darren Baker takes a look at a new title from Pen and Sword titled 'Mortar Gunner on the Eastern Front Volume 1 From the Moscow Winter Offensive to Operation Zitadelle The Memoir of Dr Hans Heinz Rehfeldt'.
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| || ||ISBN 9781784383619|
| || ||£20.00|
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| || ||May 09, 2019|
| || ||Germany|
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