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The War Nerd / April 10, 2011
By Gary Brecher

I’ve been thinking it might be a good idea to do the Sunday blog on war books. The only problem is, there are so many great ones it’s hard to decide which one to start with.

I’ve noticed one thing about war books, kind of a rule: the more messed-up the war, the better the books. That’s why there are so many great books about Vietnam but no really good ones about the US forces in WW II. In Nam we had no strategy, so we sent small units out into the bush to trigger ambushes. Terrible way to fight a war but a great way to start a million stories. Whereas in WW II we were doing intelligent large-unit combat with a coherent strategic plan, which made for a great victory but no good books I know of. Maybe I’m wrong there; anybody know any great war memoir by an American soldier in WW II? If you do, I’ll bet you in advance it’s by an American who was involved in one of the less successful, more messed-up theaters of the war.

The best WW II memoir I know about The Sergeant in the Snow, by Mario Rigoni Stern.

Mario Rigoni Stern

Just proves my bad-war-equals-good-memoir theory, that the best WW II memoir would be by an Italian, because you can’t get much more messed up than Italy’s adventures in WW II, and this guy went through the worst of them, the encirclement of the Italian forces in Ukraine in the winter of 1942-43. Mussolini had sent a small Italian contingent along on Operation Barbarossa. So did almost every European country east of Germany; when the Wehrmacht has just conquered all of Western Europe while losing only 30,000 kia in the process, they sure look like a winner, and everybody wanted shares in the company. Nobody in Europe discovered that “Fascism is a bad thing” until Stalingrad fell, when they all sorta had the big born-again moment while pissing their pants in terror.
So in the Summer of 1942, the Italians doubled down on their Eastern Front contribution, sending almost a quarter of a million soldiers to man a section of the Wehrmacht’s line along the Don River in Ukraine. Some of those units were good, especially the Alpini.


Alpini on the Eastern Front

The Italian Army had developed very good mountain troops and tactics fighting the Austrians in the Alps in WW I, and the three divisions of Alpini Mussolini sent east could have made a real contribution if they’d been assigned to the Caucasus, where they were supposed to go. But the Germans were always too arrogant to use their allies effectively, and they did it again this time, sending these mountain troops to hold the line in flat farmland along the Don where all their training was wasted, and their small, portable weaponry was guaranteed to be outgunned by massed Soviet armor.

Mario Rigoni Stern, the man who wrote The Sergeant in the Snow, was a sergeant in the Tridentina Division of the Alpini, the best of all. His book describes the quiet time, almost happy, when he and his division held the line by the river, and then the collapse of the whole line in mid-winter. Only a few of the Italians on the Eastern Front made it out of “the Bag” the Soviets caught most of the Wehrmacht’s allied armies in that winter. Rigoni Stern was one of the few to escape, and to his dying day (he lived until 2008), the thing that made him proudest is that he led a group of 70 Italian soldiers out of that bag without losing a single one.

You might notice that his name isn’t classic Italian: “Rigoni Stern.” He was a mountain kid, from the quasi-German mountains in Northern Italy, where the people are tough and don’t have the tradition of bowing and scraping to the aristocracy the way they did further south. You have to remember that until 1945, most of Central and Eastern Europe either was German or was pretending to be German or had an ambition to become German some day. Rigoni Stern was from one of those parts, and it can’t have been much of a stretch for him to find himself in the battle-line with the Wehrmacht. But like I said, the Third-Reich vintage Germans were totally arrogant and stupid about their allies; they could have had all Ukraine on their side, the way Stalin tried to wipe the Ukrainian peasantry out, but they treated the locals like garbage…which is why after 1945, instead of everyone from Zagreb to Alsace claiming to be German, you had people from Dusseldorf trying to convince everybody they were “Swiss.”

The Sergeant in the Snow is one tiny story in that huge long disaster, but it doesn’t waste any time on the big picture. It’s told from the view of Rigoni Stern himself, and like most of my favorite war books it’s mostly about food. Seriously, this is one thing I’ve noticed: one thing you can count on in a good war book is some great descriptions of food. I guess because food is so iffy, and so precious, when you’re on the front. Food and warmth, those are the big things in this book, which is natural when the author’s describing an army retreating through a Russian winter.

The first part of the book is almost happy: Stern and his fellow Alpini are dug in along the Don, making the best of it, trying to find better food, telling stories, keeping watch, doing all the things guys in a small unit do to keep busy on a static front. Nobody is that eager for combat, not the Italians, or the Rumanians and Hungarians beside them, or even the Russians emplaced across the river. Everybody’s hoping things can stay static.

They don’t, of course. But once you’ve read this part, you’ll never forget the weird dreamy happiness of just having a good meal in the bunker, laughing at the weird way guys from different parts of Italy say things, passing the time. Maybe war makes people appreciate the little stuff more; I don’t know. All I know is that in English class you have to read novels about people like that Gatsby who have everything, they’re young, rich, cool, etc.—and they’re totally miserable. In most war novels the guys are filthy and scared and can’t even shave, but they can talk for a page about how wonderful a piece of cheese from home tastes and make you feel it too. I’ve noticed prison stories are the same, nobody really wants to talk tough, they want to talk about the time somebody brought a package from home.

Then the book shifts gears fast. The line collapses for a hundred miles on either side and the Alpini have to get out. On foot, mostly. Stern is great describing walking through the snow. In fact the book starts with a line like, “My head is still full of the sound of snow crunching under my boots.” The Alpini are tough guys, and they stay out of “The Bag” long enough to get back inside the Wehrmacht’s new defensive line. But the real fun reading this is the little stuff Stern goes through along the way. You realize what a multi-ethnic quilt of an army the Wehrmacht was on the Eastern Front. You don’t see many Germans in this book. You meet everybody else east of the Rhine: Hungarians, Croats, Rumanians, Czechs, all the little pilot fish that were happy to swim along with the German shark until it got netted.

The fighting in the book is like the rest of it, almost drugged out, slowed down in the cold. Nobody really wants to go outside and fight. They want to go inside somewhere and stop marching, have something to eat, to keep the furnace going, keep the core temperature up. Once Stern ducks into a hut and finds a coed Soviet army squad slurping up the borsch. They can see he’s one of the enemy, but this is a serious war book, meaning it’s about comfort and food. So they shove him a bowl and keep slurping.

Stern made it out and kept his men with him. About 140,000 of the quarter-million men the Italians sent east weren’t so lucky.

But then “luck” was kinda relative if you were in Eastern Europe in 1943. There wasn’t a lot of luck to go around. Stern made it out of the Soviet trap all right, but then the Italians decided to hang Mussolini upside-down on a meathook and the Germans got peeved. The Wehrmacht that had “rescued” Stern sent him to an internment camp. Well, even so, that probably was good luck by the local standards.

In some ways The Sergeant in the Snow reads like a fantasy story. That’s how gone that world is. It doesn’t seem like there ever could have been this cold European world where little countries actually did things, sent their wacky soldiers to the big army like the more outlandish tribes in the Persian Empire. When you’ve finished this book, you don’t really think about battle maps or military history; you remember that crunch of the snow and the long, long convoys in retreat, and all the weird little tribes jabbering at each other in a dozen languages in the snow, and how great food is.

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Add your own

  • 1. Korman643  |  April 10th, 2011 at 10:54 am

    You’re perfectly entitled not to believe it, but while I’m typing this I’m crying like a baby.
    “Sergeant in the Snow” is the first book I’ve ever read – actually someone else read it aloud for me when I was six years olf. My dad used to read a chapter of a book for me and my brother every night before bedtime. This one was the first, followed by Tolkien “Lord of the Rings” and Primo Levi “The Truce” (“If this is a Man” came much later). Talk about formative reading. Years later I met Rigoni Stern in person, but was quite an awkward meeting, as I was too star-stuck and he was not the kind of man who likes to be watched in awe by a perfect stranger. But I still have his signature on my copy of the book, and I treasure it, of course.
    My family comes in part from the same area where Rigoni Stern grew up. It’s not that they’re half German, but the ethnicity is similar. My great great father was on the Austrian side during WWI, in the so called “war of the heights in the Dolomites”. And a distant ancestor of my family on that side fought for the Empire under Vienna during the Turkish siege.
    Rigoni Stern wrote a lot of other books, mostly on the life in his beloved Asiago plateau home turf, about hunting and hiking and mountain nature, but he returned from time to time to his war experience, including one rather memorable trip back to Russia in the 80s. I suspect this particular trip affected him more than he would admit, but he still was rather stiff lipped on it. I wish more of his stuff was translated in English (the “Sergeant” translation is superb), but I’m afraid most of his stuff is not sensationalist enough to be popular.
    Thank you War Nerd, whoever you’re really. I’ve never felt so proud that have written an Amazon review, ten years ago…

  • 2. furioso  |  April 10th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    of a similar vein and much better detailed is “few returned” by eugenio corti.

    I reviewed it on amazon here

    The famous translation of “I piu’ non ritornano” in English. This is the account of the insanity, depravity, suffering and true war reality of an Italian Artillery lieutenant during the Soviet Don retreat.

    This journal shows the bravery and fortitude of the Italian soldiers and the bare extents to which people will use to attempt to live. After twenty-eight days of encirclement, only 4,000 Italians of the retreating 30,000 made it out of the pocket. It shows the barbarity with which the Russians exacted on the Italians and the contempt and disrespect that the Germans also displayed to their allies.

    Some notable parts of the book for me include:
    1) The small contingent of Germans with which the Italians had in their ranks, executed Russian prisoners (captured by the Italians, not the Germans) without any authority of the Italian commanding officers. This led to the Russians killing countless Italian prisoners that they came across (many who could not move due to frostbite, wounds etc).

    2) Corti writes about the callous disrespect that the Soviets showed to their own men One example is how the Soviets deployed an Uzbek company into an entrenched position where they were pounded by Italian 81 mm mortars and never got to fire a shot back…when the Uzbek company was completely destroyed the Soviets replaced them with another fresh Uzbek company to be mortared, essentially human life to absorb and use up the enemies ammunition.

    3) Also interesting was Ukrainian and Italian relations (whilst fearing the Germans and the Soviets) .A notable part was when Ukrainian peasants helped the Italians build an underground/bunker type church so they could attend Christian mass.

    4) A bizarre battle – when a joint Italian/German attempt to breakthrough the Soviet encirclement, consists of a single huge Panther Tank ,accompanied by several small French 1930s captured Hotchkiss tanks and “Battaglione M “Italian assault troops – they were able to knock out and force a withdraw of a force of over 15 T34/76 medium tanks.

    This book is a first hand eyewitness account of the Italian eastern front, an area that is very often generalized and not well documented by English historians.

  • 3. kingtoots  |  April 10th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    I always thought that Farley Mowat’s books were very good, “The Regiment” and “And No Birds Sang”. But they were about canadians so I’m not sure that they count.

  • 4. Korman643  |  April 10th, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Sorry Furioso, “Few Returned” is nice book, but I still think “Sergeant” is just another class. Just my opinion.

  • 5. ApeAttack  |  April 10th, 2011 at 11:26 am

    The best WWII novel I ever read was “Samurai!” by Saburo Sakai, which gives a first-hand account of the air war in the Pacific from the Japanese POV. Although I have forgotten many details of the book since I read it almost 10 years ago, one thing that stuck with me is how insanely difficult it was to become a fighter pilot in pre-WWII Japan.

    I also thought “The Cruel Sea” by Nicholas Monsarrat was a good read. It was based on his experience commanding a corvette in the Atlantic. I remember his descriptions of mean having to keep watch in freezing cold weather, their eyes straining to see a faint outline of a German U-boat. Lots of moments where lives had to be sacrificed for the good of the convoy.

  • 6. Eddie  |  April 10th, 2011 at 11:55 am

    First thing I did after reading today entry was a quick fridge scavenge.

    Found myself a richly marbleized piece of entrecôte(hung 21 days) and fried that sucker up on high heat. About a minute on each side. Nothing fancy, just some salt and pepper with a bit of olive oil coating just to make sure it gets blasted real good by the heat.

    Then I admired it’s crispiness and beauty. Thinking about what I would pay for such a thing, if there was no such a thing out there.

    And finally and almost ritually I consumed it. Slowly and methodically. Taking my time watching each piece, nice and burned on the outside yet still pink on the inside, only letting the coolness of my Staropramen interrupt my thoughts.

    On this one I have to agree with Gary. Food is great.

  • 7. Ian  |  April 10th, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    “Anybody know any great war memoir by an American soldier in WW II?”

    I enjoyed Eugene Sledge (1st MarDiv – Peleliu and Okinawa) ‘s “With The Old Breed” (I read it long before it was used as source material for Spielberg’s “The Pacific”). George Wilson (4th InfDiv – Normandy, St.Lo breakout, Hurtgen, Bulge) ‘s “If You Survive” is haunting and excellent. Not a soldier, but I recommend Samuel Hynes (marine pilot at Okinawa) ‘s “Flights of Passage” too.

  • 8. postman  |  April 10th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Dear War Nerd,

    Hungarians will always remember the battles at the River Don!
    My own grandpa was fighting there, luckily got back alive!
    After the Soviet break-through, nearly the whole 2nd Hungarian Army was destroyed.
    During communist years, we were not allowed to remember them in honor, they were dubbed as fascist scum by the bolshevik jews.
    During the escape in the cold, so cold winter snow, the German kameraden were beating the hands of the Hungarian soldiers if they wanted to jump up on their trucks, they did not allow our men to go into houses occupied by them to warm up. Fuck ’em German assholes, if I was a Hungarian officer there, I would order to shoot on them, and blame it on the Soviets and partisans, but my men would have been warm, if it was the last thing I do!
    Jány Gusztáv, the Hungarian general had a famous order, stating the 2nd army lost its honor. He was a good soldier but he deserved his hanging just for that sentence. And Stormm Marcell, another general was the worst “leader” ever: he said, I can not give you orders, everybody should go wherever he pleases from now on, good bye! Instead of taking his troops home together! The fuck! Deserved to die in the snow with a shot to his head or freezing to death in hunger, instead of the nice, comfy Soviet capture!
    God rest the souls in peace of all the brave soldiers of the Második Magyar Hadsereg!

  • 9. Technomad  |  April 10th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    The guy who wrote the Don Camillo books, Giovanni Guareschi, wrote a book about his time as a prisoner of the Germans, after the Italians got out of the war. The title is My Secret Diary.

    A lot of the smaller Axis armies didn’t do badly in Russia, but most of them weren’t really that fired up about the war—the Romanians just wanted the ex-Romanian territory Stalin had taken back, and weren’t too interested in going farther. They also just didn’t have the logistics or (in many cases) the training to do well—of course, next to the Wehrmacht on the top of its game, most armies wouldn’t look any too good.

    Probably the best Axis allies were the Romanians (third biggest army on the Ostfront) and the Spanish “Divisio Azul”—the Spaniards were all-volunteer and many were very fired up about the war. The Spaniards hated communism, but treated the locals pretty well, and some of them even smuggled Russian and Ukranian girlfriends with them back to Spain when they were repatriated.

  • 10. Mudhead  |  April 10th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    “[A]nybody know any great war memoir by an American soldier in WW II?”

    “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa” by E. B. Sledge. Sledge was a young Marine who signed on with the “Old Breed,” the regular Marines, and he saw extensive action in the Pacific. Brilliant Memoir, and one the conveys the sheer exhaustion of battle as well as any that I know of. Paul Fussell’s “Doing Battle” is excellent as he recounts his experience as a combat infantryman in the Europe. Those campaigns may have been organized on a large scale, but according to Fussell – and others – they were seriously messed up; after all, they were the men who coined “Snafu” and “Fubar”.

  • 11. Jyp  |  April 10th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Very broadminded, I suppose, of the moderator to have passed that comment up in 8 re: the “bolshevik jews”. Or did you miss it? Don’t you read these things?

  • 12. postman  |  April 10th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Jyp, (comment 11)

    What is the problem, pal?
    You not in favor of freedom of speech?
    Having problem with historical facts?
    Would prefer censorship, and self-censorship, just like superior race hicks like me support?
    Time to grow up and accept reality, pal! Yeah!

  • 13. arras  |  April 10th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    You gone love this site, it is full of ex Red Army soldier translated in to English and sorted by arm (infantryman, tankers, pilots…):

    Great reading.
    “Main thing I remember about that war most of all was our persistent moving. Forward, only forward! We constantly wanted to sleep. We could eaten hot food only in seventh day of our offensive during a little rest after seizure of Ling Kou city.”

  • 14. fnord  |  April 10th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut. And there is a couple of really good german ones coming out these days in Europe, these flat stories by the dying generation, finally not hated.

  • 15. Bolshevik Jew  |  April 10th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    @11: You think I missed it? Not on your limp-dick goy life.

    But that, Bubi, is beside the point.

    Why doesn’t Brecher just rename all his little rambling, rather structureless homilies “WN BLOG DAY 1”? That way, he can just append each entry to that of the previous day.

    And why doesn’t he do something really on the bleeding edge, like run an expose on Akio Toyoda, whose cute little trucks are all the rage between Pakistan and Tunisia?


  • 16. Nate  |  April 10th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    There is a real great war book from WW2. Well, not technically WW2, but the little shit-storm directly before known as the Spanish Civil War.

    Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell

  • 17. Marcus McSpartacus  |  April 10th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    @Jyp: Go whine on the Huffington Post comment boards, why don’t you? You were expecting PC comments here? Really?

  • 18. abc123  |  April 10th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    It is very interesting how many veterans see the war they participated in as a great and fun adventure.

  • 19. Eren  |  April 10th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Eddie, you are seriously one of the most stupid people i have ever encountered on the internet.

  • 20. fissile  |  April 10th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Who remembers the now defunct mail order book biz, Loompanics? Loompanics use to sell a lot of Walter Mitty type fantasy stuff. Topics included: Survival, weapons, drugs and the like. Actually, most of the books sucked, and potential customers discovered that fact after the net became ubiquitous….Loompanics went Tango Uniform in 2006 as a result.

    The Loompanics printed catalogs were actually a better read than the books they advertised. The blurbs describing the books were hysterical, and each catalog included original articles dealing with just about every topic under the sun.

    One of the articles that appeared in a Loompanics catalog was, “Johnny Sold His Gun: The Story of Outlaw GI’s In WWII Europe”. I wish I had saved a copy of this article, it was fantastic. So, WWII was the “last good war”, hey? Read the above article and you’ll know otherwise. If someone here has a collection of old Loompanics catalogs, I beg you to scan the above article and put it up on the net.

  • 21. Mario_Croatia  |  April 10th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Try Sven Hassel books, he was a Dane in german army.

  • 22. Pascual Gorostieta  |  April 10th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Though a memoir by a soldier Steinbeck’s “Once There Was a War” is a short,entertaining and memorable read.

  • 23. Funonymous  |  April 10th, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Check out Doing Battle (or one of his many other books on the world wars) by Paul Fussell if you have not yet. Sheltered 1940’s upper middle class Pasadena ROTC boy who wound up an Infantry Lieutenant in the post D Day Allied push east, with all previous illusions rapidly shattered. After barely living through to VE Day, he became a Literature Professor of the critical bend, and spent most of his career “…doing what I would always do, suggesting what the war was like for people the stylish don’t run into at cocktail parties.” Draws Robert Graves often, and a few quotes from Caputo make their way into his writing as well.

  • 24. Richie  |  April 10th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Sven Hassel (Hazel)’s books aren’t historically accurate, but nevertheless a fun read.

  • 25. Massena  |  April 10th, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    “…anybody know any great war memoir by an American soldier in WW II? If you do, I’ll bet you in advance it’s by an American who was involved in one of the less successful, more messed-up theaters of the war.”

    Wow, you got me thinking. The only good book I’ve read by an American ETO veteran is Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five”, which is not really a memoir. The there’s “Catch-22” of course, but that’s bombers in the Med. It really seems all the best WW2 American memoirs are from the Pacific, so I think your point stands.

    And Hassel is a fun read, with some small, hardened kernels of truth, but nonetheless it’s pulp fiction.

  • 26. stickman  |  April 10th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Stick with the basics in the western theaters. Sledge’s Marine Corps stuff for fact, and Maclean’s arctic convoy stuff for fiction.

  • 27. h_pants  |  April 10th, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    @postman, comment 12

    How were they even bolshevik “jews” if Stalin purged so many said “jews” in the 1930s? What is that about historical fact??

  • 28. fartman fart  |  April 10th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Yeah, you can’t call Catch-22 a memoir, but it’s one of the great WWII books. Relevant now more than ever: modern America is Cathcart country.

  • 29. bud  |  April 10th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Dude, read “Goodbye Darkness” by William Manchester. It is about as dark as anything you will ever read in your life. And it is all fucking true. This man lived through being a Marine Corps Infantryman on the Islands in the Pacific, ie Okinawa. When you are masturbating to hallucination of the whore of death in a foxhole full of dead enemy then you know you have probably hit the most hellish given moment of life on earth at the time. But anyway, there are some good WWII books out there. I hope you do a review on that one. It is shocking in the way that you might get when you read something like that ‘notes from a hyena’s belly’ book that you recommended a while back.

  • 30. Soj  |  April 10th, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    I also nominate Slaughterhouse 5.

    BTW it’s spelled ROmanians now. I have no idea why until 1940 all the English books spelled it RUmanians.

    I met a Romanian who also fought and survived the Battle of Stalingrad. Amazing stories. Sitting in his garden in the sun some 50 years after and I could feel the frostbite in my toes just listening to those tales, whew!

  • 31. pimp of the Balkans  |  April 10th, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Are there any great books penned by the Iraq/Afghan war veterans so far?

    Hoping for raw, compelling narrative and a fresh perspective, I once looked through some of the blogs of serving soldiers listed on The two dozen or so I saw were… well, frankly, they were utterly shit from a war nerd perspective. Some concentrated entirely on folks back home, or video games, or basketball, or fast food at the camp… anything but the war and the alien culture around them. Even duller were the few ranting about the righteousness of their mission, the warm fuzzy feeling they get from all that liberating they’ve been doing, the grateful twinkle in the eye of an Iraqi child, and so on, and so forth, but precious little about, say, what an IED ambush sounds like from inside a Bradley.

  • 32. J.T. Patton  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    “Quartered Safe Out Here” by George MacDonald Fraser (author of the Harry Flashman novels

    – WW2 memoir from his service in Burma

  • 33. I C IT  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Pat Tillman probably would have written a good one.

  • 34. allen  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    I read “Balkan Nightmare” some years back, its about this guy from Saxon Transylvania who ended up in the Waffen SS.

    The guy was Fred Umbrich. I worked a summer job at one point with his granddaughter, and she gave me a copy of the book. (It turned out one of the editors was a great uncle of mine, total coincidence.)

    It’s very interesting mainly for giving you some perspective on a lot of things. One thing is that there was once something called “Saxon Transylvania”, which was your ethnic German tendrils extending outward into Europe phenomenon again.

    Anyway, after the war there was no such thing as “Saxon Transylvania” anymore. That war really did alter the ethnic geography of Europe, in more ways than one.

    Umbrich’s peope were a very stern lot, of the sort that would be alien to us now. Worked 12 hours a day six days a week, loved their Bible in a sort of dull farmer’s way, held all foreigners in suspicion especially gypsies, never skipped on handing out beatings to the kiddies. Good SS material.

    The SS must have thought so too, because at some point they rolled in showed a bunch of propaganda films to the population and proceeded to conscript everyone. The voluntary serves/”elite” recruitment model had gone way out the window by that point.

    Anyway he goes to the Balkans, has a battle against the Italians of all things, and then chases Tito around for a while.

    But Nerd readers will probably fall off here, because according to Umbrich, his guys never even so much looked at a civvy with a cross expression. Honest. Never. It even be true though just based on the fact that they weren’t there long enough for Tito to mess with them all that much; they had one significant encounter with Tito’s personal vanguard, and then the Soviet Union rolls in… And Umbrick and co last about a fraction of a day before it becomes clear a long march through the snow is called for.

    So Umbrich (eventually) gets captured, and his life is saved by the fact he was sick on the day he was supposed to get the “SS” tattoo. Otherwise he would have ended up in a Soviet POW camp. As it is, he nearly dies in the Allied one, which actually wasn’t that much better and killed off a lot of German “skinnies”.

    Umbrich’s observation: you would think the one’s who came in fat would last the longest, but no they were usually the first to drop.

  • 35. AR  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Restreppo by Sebastian Junger about Afghan war is pretty good. Doc film of it is also good.

  • 36. Joba  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Great column Gary, thanks! I’ll read your book column every time.

  • 37. Technomad  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Oh, yeah, Loompanics! Some of their books—Claire Wolfe’s stuff, for example—actually were pretty good.

  • 38. Frank  |  April 10th, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I’d like to echo Ian’s submission about Sledge’s “With the Old Breed” It would probably fit your claim in that the Pacific was clearly a secondary theater to Europe. Their wasn’t the incompetence of the Italian campaigns but it was horrifying nonetheless.

  • 39. subzero  |  April 10th, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Brecher, you like reading about food, then try “First They Killed My Father” by a survival from the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia. Now, there’s a place that was seriously fucked up and evil and cruel. Which makes for good reading.

  • 40. tam  |  April 10th, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    Much as I love Kurt Vonnegut, (and especially Mother Night) does anyone really think a book like Slaughterhouse 5 is going to have much appeal to Gary Brecher?

    I’d recommend Derek Robinson’s books about WW1’s war in the air, especially ‘Goshawk Squadron’. They’re funny, cynical and occasionally heartbreaking even if, like me, you’re not particularly interested in planes and aeronautical stuff.

  • 41. postman  |  April 10th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    Thank you for correcting my post number 12, but I’d like to point out that the new sentence is a bit too flattering.
    I will retract my words about “bolshevik jews”, if you will be able to finish the ending of this joke: “Three hungarian jewish bolsheviks walk into a bar….”

  • 42. Mar C  |  April 11th, 2011 at 12:13 am

    “postman” is a fine example of a Hungarian cultural minority who tend to see the Jews behind all misfortune regardless of how ridiculous it is. They are connoisseurs of the proud years of Hungarian history because they usually have nothing besides their national pride.

  • 43. Eddie  |  April 11th, 2011 at 12:17 am


    What you just described happened to my family on my grandmothers side.

    There are very few if any of them left in Transylvania. The unlucky ones did some heavy time in Soviet Army labor camps in the Ukraine while the remaining decided to leave voluntarily.

    The German government at the time considered them Auslandsdeutsche(“Germans living abroad”) and so they had the right of German citizenship. Most of them took it, either then or after 1989.

    If you ever travel to these areas you will notice that the architecture still remains, especially the big churches but hardly anyone speaks the language anymore.

    This is how it’s done in Europe. You got to say it’s a step up from the one man one panga solution in Africa.

  • 44. Dogsbody  |  April 11th, 2011 at 12:54 am

    @Postman: they were dubbed as fascist scum by the bolshevik jews.

    Not “communists”, not “bolsheviks”, you chose “bolshevik jews“.

    Your honesty reveals that you are just another shit-eating, fuck-brained bigot.

    As for your grandfather being dubbed as fascist; if you go off to war and murder with fascists you get painted with the same brush. That is not the fault of bolsheviks, jews or anybody else other than Nazis and a fucking large number of Hungarians (not the Hungarian Jews). Suck it up.

  • 45. Arto  |  April 11th, 2011 at 12:56 am

    I have to comp WN on “the more horrible the war, the better the books” -theory. On high school I must have read the whole production of Sven Hassel dozen times over. Ultimate. War. Porn.

    As far as I’ve understood, the only quasireal book is the first one, “Legion of The Damned”, which is a feverish retelling of Hassel’s war from his recruitment to Waffen-SS as an Aussdeutscher to a military prison to a panzer regiment. The books published afterwards are his angry, bitter cash-in for arfcommers who didn’t get his book’s pacifistic tone and wanted something to masturbate over.

    For what it’s worth, nobody is 100% sure if Sven Hassel is a real person.

  • 46. MtnMetis  |  April 11th, 2011 at 3:28 am

    Ernie Pyle’s “Brave Men” and Bill Mauldin’s “Up Front”…

  • 47. Stephen  |  April 11th, 2011 at 3:49 am

    I agree with the comments up-page about With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge. Especially the passage in it about a marine officer pissing in the open mouth of a dead Japanese soldier. The Greatest Generation?

    BTW, has anyone noted the disconnect in the above post. Germany didn’t invade the United States (they might have sunk a few American ship prior to Hitler demonstrating extreme stupidity by declaring war on the US) and the US still “occupies” Germany. Hungary, Roumania and Bulgaria joined Germany in invading the Soviet Union and killing about 29 million Soviets and does the Soviet Union (or Russia) still occupy Germany, Hungary, Roumania or Bulgaria? No, ‘cos they are now occupied by the United States. So perhaps someone would care to tell just which is the “evil empire”.The United States or Russia?

  • 48. Stephen  |  April 11th, 2011 at 4:20 am

    If you want to read good books about WW2, start working through some of the British stuff. Until the Soviet Union started to rip the Germans apart and the Americans started arming the rest of the world, it was one military disaster after another. And even then, the British fought on a shoe string so they didn’t get fat and lazy,

    Defeat into Victory by William Slim (the only British officer that “Vinegar” Joe Stilwell trusted about the largest land defeat the Japanese suffered until the Soviets wiped out the Japanese Manchuko armies in August/September 1945 and ended the war against Japan – were the Ruskies humming at that point or what).

    Eastern Approaches by Fitzroy Maclean (about the British mission to help Tito kill Germans and then understand why the Germans still feel the urge to shit on the Serbs and wonder why the fuck the British and Americans help them – perhaps it is something to do with all those German war criminals that ended up working for Uncle Sam)

    Popski’s Private Army by Vladimir Peniakoff (about a son of Russian emigres who decide to conduct a private war against the Germany).

    Also any memoirs by members of the SAS and LRDG, the Chindits in Burma, Force 136 in Malaysia (brilliant example of “blowback”, us Brits trained ethnic Chinese Communists to fight the Japanese and then they fought us
    after the Japs were gone). Most of these books were published in the 50s to 70s so the language can appear quite dated but they are good reads all the same.

  • 49. Eddie  |  April 11th, 2011 at 5:07 am

    @Mar C

    Jews play a mythological role in these parts. It’s like Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy. Always out there scheming, binding his time, just waiting for you to relax so he can steal your stuff.

    Personally I really don’t give a shit about them. Or more correctly do not give more shit about them then I do about Samoans or Egyptians.

    What irritates me though is this constant reminder of their suffering. We have to constantly know that they suffered, and that this suffering entitles them to a special status that no other people seem to have. This constant guilt trip along with special laws created to protect them causes people like our very own postman to react the way they do.

    Let’s not forget for a moment the other 55 million Russians, Chinese, Germans, English and so on who lost their lives in that war. The only thing special about them was that they did not fight. Hardly any great big achievement.

    Then there is this doomed experiment of taking land that does not belong to you and justifying it using some old bible versers.

    No, I have great respect for a great many jews. In particular Spinoza, Einstein, Kafka, Trotsky and many others. Yet I cannot bring myself to like, much less respect anyone who is willing to believe the many vile things found in that book.

  • 50. Ivan  |  April 11th, 2011 at 6:03 am

    See, Brecher? When you write about Euro stuff you get the Euros writing in with war stories. We need more of this.

    The best war stories, of course, are those you hear from grandpa himself. Mine used to say they were the best days of his life, what with meeting my grandmother and all (Royal Naval Dockyard chap meeting an ARP girl. A match made in Churchillian heaven, what).

    I suppose that’s where all the European white kid angst comes from. Our ancestors all had great war stories. What have we? Saturday night drinking binges and aching for a shag, that’s what.

  • 51. Alexius  |  April 11th, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Stern certainly was from a weird little corner of the world. The map says you’re in Italy, but there’s a good reason why the area just north of Asiago is also called Sud-Tyrol.

    It’s rather fucked up, trying to figure out if you’re really in Italy or did you already cross into Austria. And the language is even weirder than the Tyrolean architecture dotting the Italian countryside.

  • 52. niccolo and donkey  |  April 11th, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I’d like to add:

    Eastern Approaches – by Fitzroy MacLean

    Wartime – By Milovan Djilas

    Both are heavy on action in WW2 Yugoslavia with a pro-Allied tilt and lots of fun to read even for pro-Axis types like myself.

  • 53. Tuomas Kaila  |  April 11th, 2011 at 7:35 am

    The Manilla Rope by Veijo Meri is a masterpiece. The background of the book is the Continuation war, Finns & Germans on one side and USSR on the other side. I bet my bottom dollar that Brecher-Dolan would love this book.

  • 54. Erik  |  April 11th, 2011 at 7:37 am

    But like I said, the Third-Reich vintage Germans were totally arrogant and stupid about their allies; they could have had all Ukraine on their side…

    No, because they planned to live in Ukraine, so the Ukrainians had to go away. And with everybody distracted by all the blood and explosions going on everywhere, the war was the perfect window of opportunity for a late-colonial genocide.

  • 55. Erik  |  April 11th, 2011 at 7:40 am

    And Alpine troops are the showcase of the army, the glory-hounds.

    No way the Germans was going to give any of the few real alpine jobs to outsiders, no matter how good.

  • 56. El Hombre Malo  |  April 11th, 2011 at 7:50 am

    I enjoyed reading Vasili Grossman “Life and Fate”, and have read that his “The People is inmortal”, published in soviet newspapers during the war was very popular among common russian soldiers.

    Right now I am reading “A writer at War” by Anthony beevor, basically an anotated collection of Grossman diary entries, letters and notes during the war, ranging from a line to a pharagraph, at most, but very detaield and casual, unburdened by the need to create a story, like snapshots. You can find everything Gary described in this article; the focus on food, warmth and petty pleasures, the contrast with the officialy issued epic rethoric.

    Regarding postman’s own rethoric… never met a hungarian who didnt indulge into sentimentalism nationalism at the smallest chance. And I should know, I dated one. But then Serbians and Greeks are all the same in my experience. Must be a consecuence of living in a land that has been the playground of bigger nations for… well, for ever.

  • 57. korman643  |  April 11th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    @51 Alexius: I’m afraid you’re making some confusion. The Asiago plateau is NOT South Tyrol by any mean.Completely different ethnic origin, completely different language, and if you had told Rigoni Stern he was South Tyrolean he would have probably laughed. I know because my mother side of the family comes from the nearby Primiero. South Tyrol is a completely separated area.
    As for that not being real Italy… well if you’re into that stereotype of Italians being all like the Sopranos, maybe you’re right. It’s weird that Italy has become a synonym of “fucked up Southern Italy”, but reality is that there are dozen of different Italys, and none is truer than the others.

  • 58. Eddie  |  April 11th, 2011 at 8:43 am


    My company is sending me to Budapest for some business. Will be there from Sunday this week to Wednesday next. If you wanna grab a cold one and talk about that great war of conquest then give Gary your phone or email and I send call you up when I am there. The first round is on me.

  • 59. BoboTheDorkBoy  |  April 11th, 2011 at 8:44 am

    How about adding “What You Should Read” to “What You Should Know” and “What You Should Hate” over there?

    Just a thought…

  • 60. HueyLewis  |  April 11th, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    I agree with the posters who recommend “With The Old Breed” by Eugene Sledge. Very well-written. Maybe the best war memoir I’ve read.

    Robert Leckie’s “Helmet For My Pillow” is another book on which HBO’s “The Pacific” is based, and it’s also quite good, but Leckie is not as good a writer as Sledge (which is odd considering Leckie went on to become a professional journalist).

    Another good Italian war memoir is “Sardinian Brigade” by Emilio Lussu (sp?) about his experiences as an infantry officer in WWI.

    “The Forgotten Soldier” by Guy Sajer, a young Alsatian drafted into the Wehrmacht after the province was annexed by the Reich and ended up serving in the GrossDeutschland division on the Eastern front. I believe there is some controversy about the authenticity of this book, but it’s still a hell of a read.

    A somewhat obscure memoir called “Across the Dark Islands” by a retired National Guard general whose guard unit was folded into the 25th Infantry “Tropic Lightning” and saw action in the Solomons and the Philippines. This is very interesting, in part because there don’t seem to be many books about US Army infantry in the Pacific, but also because the author makes no bones about criticizing the Army’s personnel policies and the relative qualitative differences between regular and guard units.

    I didn’t like Manchester’s “Goodbye Darkness,” there was something smug about it, and it turns out it is a hybrid memoir, as Manchester was not actually present at most of the battles he describes (he acknowledges this). I read somewhere that Sledge thought it was a deceitful book as well.

    I also agree with the poster who mentioned “Flights of Passage,” even though it’s about an aviator. Excellent book, and the scene where Ted Williams is laughed out of a mess hall is worth the price alone! (It wasn’t really Teddy Ballgame’s fault the press hyped him, but the scene is still funny as hell.)

    Years ago ‘Nam “Oral histories” were in vogue, consisting of mostly unattributed excerpts by anonymous soldiers and marines. I have no way of judging the veracity of these books, but I remember one called “Bloods” (about black servicemen) and another simply called “Nam” made quite an impression on me. Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” is of course the canonical memoir as far as academia is concerned, and although Herr’s a journalist there is a lot of grunt’s-eye narration in the book.

    I recently bought “Quartered Safe Out Here,” looking forward to that one!

  • 61. Onarag Dickshit  |  April 11th, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    “…there are so many great books about Vietnam but no really good ones about the US forces in WW II.”

    For WW II memoirs showing tactical-operational-level snafus, I recommend “Before Their Time” by Robert Kotlowitz. Wilson’s “If You Survive” and Bosch’s “The Road to Hurtgen” both give first-person looks at the Hurtgen Forest meatgrinder.

    And for a Pacific Theater look at how even a pre-war Army division can be ‘ate-up’, see “Jungle, Sea and Occupation” by Veatch of the 24th ID: that book gives the lie to the idea that WW II GIs were all tactical studs a la “Band of Brothers”.

  • 62. Korman643  |  April 11th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Another vote for Easter Approaches. Typical British lack of scruples, but on the other side very little bullshit and a good overview on a overlooked part of the conflict. A must read and usually I don’t endorse stuff I don’t really like.

    #26 Alistair MacLean “HMS Ulysses” was yet another entry in the list of books my father did read to and my brother as kids. Great stuff. I understand it was one of the few books written by MacLean that he really like. Too bad, as I’m part of the “Where Eagles Dare” fandom!

    #34 Allen: never never NEVER trust anyone writing “I served in the W-SS but didn’t got tattooed because of (enter excuse) this reason.” I’m old enough to have met actual W-SS personnel, and believe me, they were not that useful in combat (except as shock troops to break into weakened enemy lines) but their discipline was insane. In-sa-ne. Typical example of a military corp where the “esprit du corp” was much more valued than effectiveness. Unless your guy was in one of those shitty “prison trusties” brigades like the Dirlewanger, or was an officer, he should have got the tattoo. And the tattoo mean death once the Russkies did get you, not just being shipped to a camp. They meant business on that.

  • 63. Korman643  |  April 11th, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Easter Approaches = Eastern Approaches!!!!!

  • 64. postman  |  April 11th, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    if you will be able to finish the ending of this joke: “Three hungarian jewish bolsheviks walk into a bar….”

    and at the bar stool, they find Kohn, reading a newspaper.
    – What are you reading, Kohn? Is it the new article of Comrade Stalin in the Pravda?
    – No, actually I am reading the nazi Völkischer Beobachter.
    – Kohn, how can you touch that nazi filth, that anti-semite shit, how can you not puke from that evil hate-speech? Why don’t you read our newspapers instead?
    – Because in our newspapers I read that we jews are persecuted, that there are pogroms everywhere, that anti-semitism is increasing. But if I open the nazi Völkischer Beobachter, I read that the jews control the banks, the economy, that we are exploiting everybody and taking over the world. I like to read these good news and like to know that the world is in good hands after all.

    boy, was that worth it or what?! Seriously, it’s a big hit in Novy Sad. Kills ’em every time in Bratislava.

  • 65. Korman643  |  April 11th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    @Huey Lewis: “Forgotten Soldier” is a nice war novel, nothing else than fiction. Among serious Eastern Front buffs (nerds) it rates zero in terms of historical authenticity, a lot of “factual” details are completely wrong. Good read, however.

  • 66. postman  |  April 11th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    This one is only for you for changing my comments and insulting my national pride:

    1. If you are an American, know this: on 11th of September 2001, I opened a can of beer and cheered the WTC attack. I thought, that is courage and dedication, shouting “God is Great” and slamming a plane into a skycraper, offing 3000 ignorant Americans like you. Should happen weekly.
    2. If you are Jewish, know this: In 1956, my Hungarian grandfather’s throat was used like a farm animal’s ass by Russian invaders who kicked Hungary’s sad ass all over the place. Which is why I hate Jews. Because I can’t deal with the fact that my grandfather was a cum-bucket for Russian soldiers. And worse still, he grew to like it over time.

  • 67. HueyLewis  |  April 11th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Some more ‘Nam books:

    “Charlie Company.” Another oral history, covering soldiers from a unit in the Big Red One, all excerpts attributed so this is probably a reliable source.

    “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” by Hal Moore. About the 1st Cav at Ia Drang in 1965, basis for the Mel Gibson movie.

    “A Rumor of War” by Philip Caputo. Caputo was a young Marine lieutenant in 1965. A perspective on the early days of US involvement, beautifully written.

    “Paco’s Story” by Larry Heinemann. It’s a novel, but Heinemann served in the 25th Infantry (same unit as Oliver Stone) and this is a harrowing story about the lone survivor of the overrun of a fire base and his return to civilian life. Heinemann’s “Close Quarters” is also supposed to be good, I haven’t read it.

    I did NOT like “They Marched Into Sunlight,” by David Marannis, which is allegedly being made into a movie. The book juxtaposes the bloody ambush of a unit of the Big Red One in Vietnam with a student protest of Dow Chemical at the Univ of Wisconsin taking place the same day. The sections covering ‘Nam are excellent, but the parts covering the protest drag, and seem frivolous to boot – I doubt this was the author’s intent. The student protesters come off as weenies, frankly, for the simple reason that their asses were not on the line and the author’s attempt to somehow parallel their travails with what happened to the soldiers seems woefully misguided. There was a PBS special based on the book (I liked it better than the book). On second thought, I would give this book a qualified recommendation, the portions covering the build up to the ambush, the battle itself, and the aftereffects on the soldiers are well worth reading, and you can skim the other parts.

  • 68. when did everyone here become intellectuals  |  April 11th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    All you intellectual book readers sicken me!

    America saved the world in WWII. The end. That’s all the history you need to know. Tom Brokaw and Stephen Ambrose told me so!

    (just kidding….since there are actually people who’ll say this with a straight face. thanks for the suggestions all.)

  • 69. HueyLewis  |  April 11th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Korman, re Forgotten Soldiers I have heard that opinion as well, but also some views that the factual inaccuracies could be fairly attributed to faulty memory. It really makes no difference to me, as long as it’s a “good read” as you point out.

  • 70. Victorvalley Villain  |  April 11th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    “Three hungarian jewish bolsheviks walk into a bar….” But the whole thing was photoshoped, and therefore no one gave a flying fuck?

  • 71. Victorvalley Villain  |  April 11th, 2011 at 3:07 pm


    “Jews play a mythological role in these parts. It’s like Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy. Always out there scheming, binding his time, just waiting for you to relax so he can steal your stuff.”

    Futurama is sure getting a lot of play on these WN blog comments.

  • 72. Victorvalley Villain  |  April 11th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    @66 postman,

    You obviously haven’t been around for the eXiled 9/11 tribute video. That beer you had is nothing.

    And your grandma’s throat was just photoshoped, don’t sweat it, it’s not real.

  • 73. Dogsbody  |  April 11th, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    @Postman: And worse still, he grew to like it over time.

    I guess it must run in the family. Who are you a cum-dumpster for this week? Alex Jones?

  • 74. allen  |  April 11th, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Eddie: Yep, “German’s living abroad” was mentioned in the book. I think it even had a nod to the architecture you mentioned as well.

    Korman643: The thought crossed my mind, because it’s the guy’s story a lot of it could either interpreted rosily or just flat out made up.

    The only thing that lends the “no tattoo” thing credibility is that it was so late in the war that standards had gone out the window. These were not even “real” SS troops, per se. They didn’t “volunteer”. They were conscripted (which happened after 1943 … when the SS just basically needed guys).

  • 75. Korman643  |  April 11th, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    @Huey Lewis: Emilio Lusso “Un’Anno Sull’Altipiano”. Very good book, used to be required reading in Italy junior high back in the 70’s (along with the Sergeant) when Italian school made sense. Very very very depressing however, as WWI books can be. Was made into a very grim movie sometimes during the 80’s.

    @Allen: oh, so he was into one of those ethnic brigades. Hungarians normally ended up into the 25th, 26th or 33rd W-SS Division, really makeshift units, the 25th saw combat around Nurnberg in ’45 and was destroyed there, 26th existed only on paper. 33rd was a stopgap unit and got annihilated by the Soviets in Budapest.

    Yeah, if that’s the case the no tattoo thing could be credible.

  • 76. no one in particular  |  April 11th, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    @66 postman, just because your grandfather enjoyed being a hungarian cum-dumpster for a bunch of russians doesn’t mean you should hate on ‘bolshevik jews’. Why not respect your grandfathers lifestyle choices? Some guys are into being bottoms, and theres really nothing wrong with that

  • 77. postman  |  April 11th, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    Yes, you are right, my grandfather still thinks about the pack of Russian Jewboy military victors who used him as a cum-bucket and taught him about love and life.

  • 78. SweetLeftFoot  |  April 12th, 2011 at 12:14 am

    One of the greatest war books of all time is Guerilla Days in Ireland by Tom Barry. Man held down 12,000 Brits in West Cork with about 300 irregular of his own.

    He literally wrote in the book on early/mid 20th century anti colonial warfare: Guerilla Days was used a textbook by the Haganah and Stern Gang among others.

  • 79. Magpie  |  April 12th, 2011 at 12:17 am

    +1 for Defeat into Victory by William Slim.

    Great story, well written by an amazing guy who saw some amazing stuff.

    I know he’s a commanding officer, but you can’t read his memoir without seeing the soldier on every page.

    Couple of review quotes from the Wikipedia page:

    Louis Morton, writing in The Journal of Modern History considered it a work of ‘wisdom, modesty, grace, and deep understanding’… In the New York Times, the writer John Masters called it ‘a dramatic story with one principal character and several hundred subordinate characters,’ and said that it showed that Marshal Slim was “an expert soldier and an expert writer.”

  • 80. furioso  |  April 12th, 2011 at 12:48 am

    movie with almost a literary feel

    the soviet ww2 film ” Come and See” idi smotri (?) partisan and counter partisan warfare in belarus (like a visual version of the painted bird)

  • 81. AKAGoldfish  |  April 12th, 2011 at 4:49 am

    How has no one called out .47 for saying that the US occupied Hungry, Romania, and Bulgaria and all of Germany after World War II?

    Seriously, it’s like he’s never even heard of the Warsaw Pact.

  • 82. Jyp  |  April 12th, 2011 at 6:32 am

    What do know? It’s a shithead jamboree here in the comment section! And I’m the shithead of honor! Well, that’s all I wanted to say before going off to masturbate to my personal god, Prince William of Wales, getting married.

  • 83. Bester  |  April 12th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    >> the way Stalin tried to wipe the Ukrainian peasantry out

    Gary, the whole “Stalin the vampire” is a creation of western propaganda that stole ideas from Goebbels.

    Read J. Arch Getty, Robert Davies, Stephen Wheatcroft, Gabor T. Rittersporn. They easily debunk all those myths about political repressions and holodomor.

    Hope you’ll reconsider your point of view.

  • 84. Korman643  |  April 12th, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    @Furioso: Agreed with “Idi i Smotri”. The 2001 A Space Odissey of the war movies. Makes everything else look lame in comparison. Quite accurate too.

  • 85. someguy  |  April 12th, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    The best WWII book is “The Jungle is Neutral” by F. Spencer Chapman, hands down.

    Amazon description: “the book’s unflappable author, narrates with typical British aplomb an amazing tale of four years spent as a guerrilla in the jungle, haranguing the Japanese in occupied Malaysia.

    Traveling sometimes by bicycle and motorcycle, rarely by truck, and mainly in dugouts, on foot, and often on his belly through the jungle muck, Chapman recruits sympathetic Chinese, Malays, Tamils, and Sakai tribesman into an irregular corps of jungle fighters. Their mission: to harass the Japanese in any way possible. In riveting scenes, they blow up bridges, cut communication lines, and affix plasticine to troop-filled trucks idling by the road. They build mines by stuffing bamboo with gelignite. They throw grenades and disappear into the jungle, their faces darkened with carbon, their tommy guns wrapped in tape so as not to reflect the moonlight.

    And when he is not battling the Japanese, or escaping from their prisons, he is fighting the jungle’s incessant rain, wild tigers, unfriendly tribesmen, leeches, and undergrowth so thick it can take four hours to walk a mile.”

  • 86. stickman  |  April 12th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    If we’re allowed other American wars, my all-time fave American war book is Chickenhawk by Robert Mason. That one is memorable, a US combat helicopter pilot describing his thousand-mission year in the Vietnam War.

  • 87. J.T. Patton  |  April 12th, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    “The First and the Last”- Adolf Galland
    “Soldat” – Siegfried Knappe
    (always like to hear the other side’s story)

  • 88. gary  |  April 13th, 2011 at 1:40 am

    check out “the washing of the spears” when the zulus kicked some british ass

  • 89. George  |  April 13th, 2011 at 10:03 am

    My favorite war book is fictional but still fucks up your soul. ‘The Tartar Steppe’ by Dino Buzzati. One of the most depressing books I’ve ever read but damn does it pack a punch.

  • 90. postman  |  April 13th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    This one is for you. Let us both cool off, take a step back, and return to civil and polite clashing of opinions.

    I am sorry for losing my temper, I’m sorry for taunting you personally, I’m sorry for insulting your family.

    I apologize.

    In reality, I wish and hope that your grandparents lived a long and happy life, surrounded by your loving family. I hope they were not in danger during WW2, that they were safe from the horrors of those terrible times. Mine grandparents were not, so if yours were, please, recognise its luck and value.

    I was not serious about cheering 9/11 either. In reality, as an office worker in a big building myself, I watched totally shocked those poor souls having to jump from the burning WTC.

    I was accused to be here to troll or to hijack the forum. Now, I was always totally on-topic, talking war and tribal feud, using the example of my country and her history to prove my point. I simply communicated with the other War Nerd-fans of the forum, why was it called trolling or hijacking escapes me.

    What increased my blood-pressure into un-acceptable level was accusing me of being superior race hick intent on censorship. Hick I may be, proud of my white race I am, but I think it is evident that the emnity and conflict between races comes from the races NOT being different at all. No good races vs. evil races, superior vs. inferior, or black and white (no pun intended) story is reality: for every frequent War Nerd reader it must be clear since ages.

    I am totally against censorship and self-cenzorship, and tabooing problems: I perceive today cenzorship is hidden in Political Correctness, Multikulti and “hate speech” accusations.

    And what triggered our clash was my using the term “bolshevik jews”. Why I used this term? Why I did not say simply “communists” instead? Let me ask: if I say the Nazis of Hitler were Germans, is it offensive?

    1919, the time of the first Hungarian Sovietrepublic. The Bolshevik Party (KMP) comrades (Kun Béla, etc…) and the red terror brigades (Lenin-boys: Szamuely, etc…) had defining ethnic characteristics. It was noticed, it was evident and clear for everyone in Hungary back then. We may argue that they were communists first and their jewishness does not matter, but no matter how we try to explain it away, they were perceived as jews, and their system was perceived as marxist/communist ideology enforced on Hungary by the jews. This is how it was perceived, and this is the real origin of the increasing of anti-semitism which culminated and resulted in the horrors of WW2. See, this is your classical tribal feud, with no good side vs. bad side. Which side you prefer depends on which side you were born into. I side with my people, and you would do the same in my shoes.

    Sorry for the long comment. Feel free to delete the personal correspondence if you think, but please, instead of changing the meaning of the rest, add your observations at the end of the comment.

    Best wishes,


    PS: Okay, it’s true, I’m totally for censorship and restricting other people’s rights to free speech, my only problem is I have no idea how to do it. That’s because I’m a white racist dumbfuck hillbilly with a bleeding asshole, thanks to my Nazi-loving grandfather.

  • 91. Ludo Totem  |  April 13th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    As Korman says, Corti’s “Few Returned” isn’t bad, but Rigoni’s “Sergeant” is much better. Also superb is Nuto Revelli (like Rigoni, a friend of Primo Levi, who, in a poem, once said his two “brothers,” as he called them, wrote “non-useless books”).

    Revelli was a junior lieutenant in the Tridentina Division, and he survived the retreat from the Don, too. His book–and it’s an extraordinary one–“La strada del davai” recounts the experiences of forty of his fellow combatants, most of whom ended up in PoW camps in Siberia until after the end of the war. The book has been translated into English but not published. Go figure.

  • 92. Korman643  |  April 13th, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    @89 George if you like Buzzati try to locate a copy of “Restless Nights”, his collection of short “weird” stories a la Twilight Zone. Very well written and seriously haunting.

  • 93. postman  |  April 13th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    How I wish Gary Brecher moderated his own War Nerd blog forum…
    He would know the score, he was called a stupid white racist himself on a lot of instances. The Indians could not get over his Kargill-incident analisys for example…
    He understands what war is, he understands what tribal feud is.
    I offered truce to the man who attacked me in the first place, as a token for future civilized communication, and that PS BS is all what I got for it. Was worth to be civilized and forgiving for sure…

    O, pity me, ye non-existent gods of white supremacists whose grandfathers were Russian infantry cum-buckets! Pity me, thy useless Hungarian cumbucket!

  • 94. Korman643  |  April 13th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    @Ludo Totem: great to see someone who know about Revelli! His “Poor Men Wars” is, in my opinion, the greatest memoirs ever written on WWII partisan warfare (it’s a two part book, first part is his Russian front diary, second part the partisan warfare in western Alps. Very straightforward, nasty and in some point truly disturbing. It’s great how you may see in the fist part same backdrop of “Sergeant” but from a different point of view – Rigoni Stern the mountain peasant from the North East, self taught and somehow easy going and idealist, Revelli the cynic Piemontese, brash to the point of brutality, who goes to Russia idolizing the Germans and return wanting nothing else than revenge (he calls his Partisan brigade “Revenge for the Fallen Comrades” and their even have a battle song title “Mercy is Dead” (Pietà L’e Morta). It’s a book full of small, nasty details – the killing of two German border guards where Revelli makes sure we sympathize with them and not with him, the girl sent to spy on them discovered almost immediately and granted a “mercy” killing (no rape), and the whole epic part of the delaying action against 92nd Panzer Division in Val Stura, probably the only time in WWII when a unit with only 100 people succesfully delayed an entire panzer div. Great book, it’s a shame it was never published in English.

  • 95. Dogsbody  |  April 13th, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    And what triggered our clash was my using the term “bolshevik jews”. Why I used this term? Why I did not say simply “communists” instead? Let me ask: if I say the Nazis of Hitler were Germans, is it offensive?

    Most Nazis were German, most bolsheviks were not jews. If you think that jews were in control of the Soviet Union, that the Soviet military was chock full of jews or that jews are responsible for all the evil done by the soviets then you are not just a bigot, you are and ignorant fucking moron.

    Who’s fucking your arse today? David Irving?

    Have a nice day.

  • 96. postman  |  April 13th, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Dear Moderator,

    Our correspondence does not make sense, so I must ask a simple, straightforward question.
    All you need to do is stand up like a man and give a simple denying or confirming answer. Yes or no, there is no need to fuck about, the question is pretty simple and straightforward.

    The question is, Moderator:
    Am I a closet homosexual?

    See, simple question, either YES OR NO, just type it at the end of this comment with your fair hand, like you used to do with your enlightening edit.

    Thank you,

    postman the russian cumbucket

  • 97. postman  |  April 13th, 2011 at 10:39 pm


    I grew up in a communist country, I have personal firsthand experience and knowledge of what it tastes like to gargle on russian bodily fluids.
    I suppose you say those who lived under communism got it all wrong and have no clue, but those who lived in the West and gain their knowledge about communism from books and films know it better?
    I was not talking about the Red Army. If you want to concentrate on the Red Army, concentrate on the Political Commissars of the Red Army. The WW2 Soviet atrocities against civilian population was committed mostly by the fresh Siberian and Central Asian Soviet troops, but it was explained away and egged on by ideologists like Ilja Ehrenburg. We do not begrudge the Soviet troops behaviour really, it was war, they were young men. What we did begrudge was the Communist Party making us celebrate it year by fucking year. The distinct characteristics of the Party deepened the hatred again: after WW2 they came back, and started up again what they did in 1919, this time longer.

    Have a nice day,

    postman ze cumbucket

  • 98. Stefano  |  April 14th, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Best Italian book on WWI: possibly, the little known “Trincee” (i.e. “Trenches”) by Carlo Salsa.
    Terrific on the frontline experience in 1915-16 and on the divide between those fighting there and everyone else, in the military and at home.
    On War Nerd terms, beats even the Lussu book (which is really a great read in the original italian).
    About the Alpini experience during the 1943 retreat: note that not every unit retained cohesion – although it is a miracle that some were still battleworthy at the time of breakout.

  • 99. postman  |  April 14th, 2011 at 11:16 am


    you walked into that one I am afraid. I was not expecting an answer, I was simply testing you, gauging your reaction!
    You fucked up, Jewboy!
    Do not care how you change my comment and what others will see: my message is for you, I care only that you read it, Jewboy!
    Do not care what you write about my granddad and the Russians, because no-one holds a grudge against the Russians, they were honorable enemies with all their excesses, gave as good as they got just like us. They were not meek coward sheep walking to the slaughter, un-like the jews, who were licking the boots of the SS while being herded to the cattle trains.
    Aren’t you liberal jewboys in favor of homosexuals? I always laugh when one of your kind start accusing the Nazis of being homos, while with the other hand pushing the homo agenda on the straight folks. You try to pull that shit on jew-wise old Amaleks like me?
    Thanks to the internet and the behaviour of your people, eyes are opening up all over the world, and the time of reconing will come again. But this time you will not let off the hook as easy as in the time of Der Fuehrer Mann: how I wish the myth of 6 million gassed were true, but un-fortunately Holocaust was lacking in effectiveness: that explains the sorry state of the world today. But all we need for the Americans to understand is the “Al-Qaeda” are IDF Mistaravim, and the pogrom awaits, and I am doing all I can to open eyes…
    We will jump the jews again, soon as…
    And I will personally grab my pig-gelding knife which all of us racist, white supremacist hicks carry, and I will personally cut off your little circumscized dick and stuff it up your big nose.
    We will get at your jewish throats again… The time is coming…Tic-tac, tic-tac, tic-tac…


    postman the cumbucket

    ps: you know why they call my country “hungary”? because my grandpa was always hungry for russian sperm.

  • 100. Ludo Totem  |  April 14th, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Yes, Korman, “La guerra dei poveri” is an excellent book–I’m thinking especially of the sections on Revelli’s first few months back in Italy and on the reconstructive surgeries on his face in liberated Paris. He comes across the Americans, who astonish him by drinking milk for supper but spending the nights roaring drunk and whoring. In those two sections, Revelli, who usually writes so much about other people, writes about himself.

    Still, I’m not Italian, and “La guerra” was the first Revelli book I read, so I was sometimes slightly confused by his and his troop’s movements. I couldn’t say exactly why, for example, they were fighting in France and why some of the Allies wanted them out. “La strada del davai,” on the other hand, doesn’t really require knowledge of Italian partisan factions, Italian politics, and so on. Anybody can identify with its stories of combat and captivity, of long journeys home. That’s why I think it would make such a great intro, especially for non-Italians, to Revelli’s work. And it bothers me more than you can imagine that there doesn’t seem to be a single English-language publisher with the courage to bring out a Revelli book.

    I’m grateful to Rigoni Stern not only for his own excellent books but also for introducing me to Revelli and Emilio Lussu.

  • 101. Korman643  |  April 14th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    @Ludo I can see why “Guerra” may be difficult for someone not familiar with Italian partisan warfare, as a good knowledge of the political complications, treachery and Byzantine stuff that characterized it and of the terrain (the Western Alps) makes the experience much more interesting. So for me live very close to those “unloved battlefields” (thanks WN for that definition) and knowing all the historical tidbids make it probably much more special. If you happen to come in NW Italy sometime in the future make sure you take the time to hike in Valle Gesso or Val Maira – they’re still beautiful, untouched places and you may learn a lot about warfare there just simply walking.

    About Russia, one of the things that takes Rigoni Stern apart from Revelli is that Rigoni Stern had done the whole bloody “via crucis” in the Western Front, Grecia, Albania before going to Russia. And he was a real peasant, with very little illusions about the war itself. And he had absolutely no respect whatsoever for official culture (he liked just the books he liked and had a great dislike for teachers all his life). He once said “any ignorant farmer need to know much more than any banker – we need to know about biology, chemistry, meteorology, a banker doesn’t know shit”. He also said once that for him paradise was an eternity wandering in a snowy forest.

    Revelli was an officer, he came into the war as a committed fascist, really believing they where in for some great adventure. And he had a “respectable” cultural background. So his experience was in some way much more traumatic – losing his innocence, to use a clicheè. He was a tough bastard and a very good soldier (he “loved” combat much more than Rigoni Stern did), but he seemed to have been embittered by a life long streak of unhappiness.

    It’s interesting that two different people like Rigoni Stern and Revelli could become friends. I think that what they had in common (with Levi too) was that burning, all encompassing love for mountains.

    Of Rigoni Stern, did you read “History of Tonle”?

    There’s also Primo Levi short story called “Iron” from its “The Periodic System” that he dedicated to Revelli and Stern. It deals with mountains of course, and (in more than one way) with warfare.

  • 102. Korman643  |  April 14th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Ciao Stefano,

    ah, Trenches. Forgot about that. Very good book. I’ve read it just after discovering that Salsa had collaborated with Monicelli in “The Great War”.

    I agree that maintaining cohesion and combat effectiveness was a big feat for those alpine unit. However, basically only “Tridentina” Division was combat worthy by Nikolaevka’s time. “Julia” had been vaporized at Valujki, and “Cuneense” held on just a bit more. I believe that the asset “Tridentina” had was closer ties between the soldiers and better officiers. But they had a close call too.

    There’s a decent ’91 book by Alessandro Massignani, “Alpini e Tedeschi sul Don” that makes a convincing case about the XXIV Panzer Korps and the Alpini doing a rather good job collaborating to break out from the Russian encirclement. I’m quite sure than the less short sighted elements of the German army did realize quite soon that it was a bad case of “keep together or perish”. However collaboration didn’t last much after Nikolaevka – actually it ended as soon as the XXIV PzKp linked again with the rest of the Pz Armee.

    The rest of the Italian Army was more or less luggage, maybe except the “Torino”.

  • 103. Ludo Totem  |  April 15th, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Yes, Korman I’ve read the Tönle book, and probably everything else Rigoni Stern wrote, except maybe a few newspaper articles that have never appeared in books. I’ve even translated some of his shorter pieces: one with the strange title “[…]” and “Che magro che sei, fratello” for example.

    I wonder, though, if Revelli and Rigoni Stern were really all that much different. Rigoni was of peasant stock, to be sure, but if I remember right he volunteered for the military–whereas the peasants whose testimony Revelli takes in “La strada del davai” or “Il mondo dei vinti” rarely had more than three or four years of schooling and joined the military only when they were conscripted–and didn’t Rigoni Stern’s family own a shop in the center of Asiago? I would put Rigoni Stern somewhere between a “warmonger” like Revelli and the poor devils who tell their stories in Revelli’s books of testimonies.

    Until at least “Il disperso di Marburg,” there’s a lot of anger, a lot of indignation, in Revelli’s books–that’s partly why they’re so good–but I’m not sure I’d say his life was one of lifelong unhappiness.

  • 104. Stefano  |  April 15th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Ciao Korman

    I did not read that Massignani book; however, the point seems quite credible. As long as the Alpini retained some fighting power (and supplies) it was quite convenient to team up with them, even for the Germans: they also were in the pocket, after all.

    However, I would like to remember the short story in the Rigoni book “Ritorno sul Don”, about the straggling Alpino who spends the night in yet another Ukrainian peasant cabin, and unexpectedly hears somebody speaking his “dialetto”. I found it heartbreaking (*).

    But since this is not War-Nerdish, I salute you (a polenta-eater on the Exiledonline!)

    (*) Btw, I heard later that in WWI a lot of Trentini actually fell on the Eastern Front.

  • 105. Xenophon's Mama  |  April 17th, 2011 at 9:03 am

    What email can I reach you at? As a fellow victim of censorship we have much to relate. is a good one to find me at. I’m curious what you actually said before you were censored by the man. censored eXiled comment trolls unite!

  • 106. Korman643  |  April 17th, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    @Ludo: Yes, the Rigoni family had a “bottega” (“Stern” is the family nickname)in Asiago trading diaries made in the mountains with stuff taken in the plain. Good to avoid starving, but not anything particularly lucrative. Mario volunteered for the Aosta war school because it would have conscripted anyway (draft was a compulsory three years affair back then) and volunteering was a good way to choose the place you wanted to to the training camp. Aosta was – and still his – ideal if you’re into climbing and hiking and skiing, and was a good chance for a country lad to enter the Alpine Corp sport units (btw, the German Alpenkorps had the same type of units). The war ruined everything.
    Revelli was from Cuneo’s middle class, and had a family rich enough to allow him to get a high school degree. Cuneo is/was not Asiago, it’s a relatively big centre with a long history of trade with France and everything. And Revelli originally was seriously into Fascism and the militay and being an officer (he went to Modena, Italy’s West Point).
    You’re right about Revelli resentment. But that’s the main difference between the war experience in the Italian NE and the Italian NW. In the NE there was a lot of bad shit going on (particularly in Friuli with all Titoist, Italians, Germans, White Russians fighting each other – there was even a German brigade fighting for the Partisans!) but generally things got relatively smooth (lot of killings, make no mistake). In the NW it went totally out of control. My father was 10 years old in 1944, and the stuff he had to see was unbelievable (Pancho Montana could sympathize) and the whole moral compass of it absolutely messed up. Revelli first had to endure the sense of betrayal generated by the Russian debacle, then came up home and get the local version of Mordor for two years. But you may read “Marburg” as the whole thing gone full circle – Revelli went to Russia wanting to be “German”, and 50 years later he somehow made peace with that.

  • 107. Korman643  |  April 17th, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Ciao Stefano:

    the problem XXIV PzKrp faced was that, by Little Saturn/Ostrogorzk-Rossoš time, they had no shock troops left there (because anything resembling that was being wasted north of Stalingrad). The best next thing they had in the Don area were the Alpini. Everything else, including the German chain of command, simply broke down (Rigoni’s statement is “they were a good Army as long as things were good”).

    So Julia/Cuneense got used as a shield, and Tridentina as a sledgehammer (they had good artillery too). The Germans had a bit of armour and mobility, plus the heavy MGs to provide volume of fire. The Russians were really thin there, thus the thing worked relatively fine, even with enormous losses. But the second part of the deal was that once out the German had to provide supplies and transportation, and what they did was to say “Hey, fuck you guys, nice to have known you, see you in Kharkov.” Results – a bunch of heavily armed, motivated, trained guy who comes home wanting nothing but settle the score.
    The funny thing is that it wouldn’t have been enough to trigger a full scale guerrilla warfare, if it wasn’t for the stupidity of a single individual, namely Johannes Peiper. The moron, who was stationed with most of the 1° W-SS Pz Div “Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler” in Cuneo in Autumn 1943 for a short R&R, was nostalgic for the steppes and having a bad case of massacre withdrawal. So he decides, shortly after the Italian surrender in Oct. 1943, to destroy an entire village (Boves, near Cuneo), murder all the inhabitants, burning them alive – just for kicks. Bingo! What could have been a been for the German Army a nice and peaceful rear line resort including nice food and wine, becomes the 1943 version of Ciudad Juarez, minus the mariachi music and the dope. And Kesserling is suddendly forced to commit 10 divisions, badly needed somewhere else, to try keeping the supply lines open and the area somehow under control.

    As the WN would probably say, a military genius may be not enough to win a war, but a military moron is always enough to help losing one!

    Trentini in WWI – yes! A lot of them fought with the Austrian in the Brusilov offensive (WN, please, we want to read about that one). Mostly used as cannon fodder, I’m afraid.

    All that is very war-nerdish of course! And I suspect there are more polenta-eaters than people may suspect

  • 108. Ludo Totem  |  April 18th, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Thanks for the extra info, Korman. I like having the chance to discuss Revelli and Rigoni virtually because I don’t know anybody who’s read either!

    I’d be interested in knowing some of the titles of some good books on the Italian campaign in the Balkans. I’ve read only Rigoni’s “Quota Albania.”

  • 109. Korman643  |  May 14th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    @Ludo, many apologies for not seeing this before, in case you may check this thread, THE book on the Albania front you’ve to read (beside Rigoni’s) is of course “La Guerra di Albania” by Giancarlo Fusco, was re-published by Sellerio (those Sicilian guys who’ve done truckload of money with Camilleri!) in 2006.

    It’s an absolute hoot, typical Fusco half-fun, half sad “I was there and I had a big time despite the circumstances” series of vignettes, masterfully written, you’ll love it. And by the way, try reading anything you may find written by Fusco. He was a genius of Italian journalism, long overdue for a rediscovery (they made a movie about his life title “The Snake Enchanter” in 2009 but no one saw it). He had an incredible life – soldier, dancer, Marseille gangland member, journalist, character actor in many great no budget Italian comedies of the 70’s. Died utterly broke in 1984 after wasting every single cent he had in prostitutes, alcohol and prostitutes (again), despite being a workhaholic who had not been out of writing work since the end of the war (he had a very popular daily column on “Il Giorno).

    He wrote some astonishing stuff, “Duri a Marsiglia” (his semi-autobiographical evocation of the Marseille underworld of the 30’s ) is considered a great classic. My personal favourite of his (besides “Albania”) is “Gli Indesiderabili”, a book on the destiny of 120 small time mafia bosses who got forcibly repatriated from the US at the end of the war, and without local connections ended up as pathetic small crime crooks (mostly running scams or prostitution rings in the Italian night club scene of the 60’s). Great book.

    And you must check out Giancarlo Fusco acting – here’s a cameo he did in Ciccio Ingrassia “Ku Fu – Dalla Sicilia con Furore”, the ultimate kung fu movie parody. He’s the fat restaurant owner at 05:30 in this clip.

    Again, not sure you’ll ever read this, but just in case…

  • 110. Ludo Totem  |  June 2nd, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks, Korman. The Fusco stuff sounds interesting; I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  • 111. Antonio  |  April 10th, 2015 at 3:26 am

    Mario Rigoni “Stern”….
    Stern is the historic surname his family had (in Italy lots of families still know each other by surnames, coming from “dialects”, especially in small villages)…does not mean he was/had German roots!!!
    As an example the historic surname of my family is “Jallaqa” – and I have no Arabs roots at all!!
    The stereotype caused a big fail here for you, War Nerd

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