lessons…

One important lesson is that one should be extremely wary of any generalisation concerning the conduct of individuals. Extremes of human suffering and even degradation can bring out the best as well as the worst in human nature. Human behaviours to a large extent mirrors the utter unpredictability of life and death. Many Soviet Troops, especially the frontline formations, unlike those who came behind, often behaved with great kindness to the German civilians. In a world of cruelty and horror where any conception of humanity has almost been destroyed by ideology, just a few acts of often unexpected kindness and self-sacrifice lighten what would otherwise be an almost unbearable story.

A soldier’s word…

We no longer fought for Hitler, or for National Socialism, or for the 3rd Reich, ‘ wrote an Alsatian veteran of the Grossdeutschland Division, or even our fiancees or mothers or families trapped in bomb ravaged town. We fought for simple fear… We fought for ourselves, so that we wouldn’t die in holes filled with mud and snow; we fought like rats.