Tuesday, August 17, 2021

I Somehow Survived: Eyewitness Accounts from World War II by Klaus G Förg

As the years pass there are fewer and fewer veterans and survivors we can turn to in order to better understand the lived experience of the Second World War.  In "I Somehow Survived" readers are presented with a few recent interviews of soldiers and civilians who experienced different parts of Germany's war throughout Europe - from the Eastern Front, to Italy, and Norway.  As with all recollections/interviews and ego documents, there are strengths and weaknesses to this volume.  Being decades removed from the time period means there are undoubtedly gaps in their memories and knowledge of the war but some kept diaries and others related experiences that have stayed with them since the war.  The first account, describing the war on the Eastern Front, is the longest and the veteran being interviewed is quite open about the type of war Germany waged and the suffering inflicted on the civilian population, more than once he references 'hordes' when describing the Red Army - undoubtedly a leftover from the Third Reich's lexicon.   Other accounts relay the death and destruction associated with partisan warfare (be it on the Eastern Front or the Western Front), and at least one describes the rather long and convoluted route he had to take to avoid being taken prisoner at the end of the war.  While there is nothing groundbreaking in these interviews/recollections, they nonetheless add to our knowledge of the war and help better contextualize the various experiences soldiers and civilians encountered depending on where in Europe they found themselves - not all theaters were the same but Germans could be found in them all.

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