Berlin Dance of Death

Berlin Dance of Death

by Helmut Altner


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Berlin Dance of Death by Helmut Altner

This is one of the most vivid accounts of destruction and hopelessness we have ever seen. It is a 17-year-old German conscript's experiences in the defense of Berlin during the spring of 1945 - the last desperate days of Berlin - annotated and illustrated to show his part in the overall picture.

Altner’s account covers in detail recruit training on the front line after only ten days in barracks, the execution of deserters and action against the Red Army and turncoat German 'Seydlitz' Troops.

He tells of the retreat back to Berlin with full kit, escaping capture time after time and the annihilation of nearly all his company in just one action.

He gives detailed descriptions of house to house fighting in the Spandau sector of Berlin, the battle for the Olympic Stadium, the sacrifice of Hitler Youths, fighting in the city's subway tunnels and the disastrous attempt at a breakout to the west, culminating in his final capture.

This is an account of war at its most basic and brutal level, of the collapse of everything familiar and the hopelessness of imminent defeat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781932033441
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
Publication date: 07/03/2005
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

Helmut Altner specializes in World War II historical non-fiction.

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Berlin Dance of Death 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is not hyperbole to suggest that Helmut Altner¿s Berlin Dance of Death may be one of the most interesting first-person narratives of combat ever written. That it is the story of a German teenager who was called to active duty on March 29th, 1945¿to fight in a war that had less than two weeks left to it¿makes this book often compelling. It is raw and sometimes clumsy in its prose, but it is genuine. Altner reconstructs the events of his fighting in the streets of Berlin from a diary that somehow, miraculously, survived his eighteen months in Soviet captivity. He uses straightforward, declarative sentences and, with little adornment, allows the drama of moments to present itself: ¿We take up position in the dining room. The Reichs War Flag and the Party Flag with the swastika are hung on the paneled walls, symbols of the unity of the armed forces and the Party? Opposite there is a poor oil painting of Hitler and two machine guns on the floor with their barrels pointed towards us. An officer enters and the staff sergeant makes his report. The young second lieutenant speaks about the flag, the Führer and obedience until death. I am not with it to me it is all like the stage of a theatre, myself a stand-in in a sad scene. He reads out the form of the oath in a dull voice and we repeat it slowly after him, `With God¿s help!¿ This book is essential to those who study the psychology of combat and to those who study the loss of innocence on youth. It is translated and wonderfully annotated by Tony Le Tissier. This is a first-rate book that deserves a wide audience.