Das Herz der 6. Armee Heinz G Konsalik

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Das Herz der 6. Armee

Heinz G Konsalik

1st Edition  Deutsch text 

In a sometimes deeply moving novel Heinz Konsalik brings forth the horrors experienced by the German army in Stalingrad.  It deals mostly with a group of people, two German doctors, a couple of German soldiers, a Russian doctor and her lover as well as a few fascinating people throughout. The novel manages to capture the feeling of both groups of combatants at the time, the strong feeling of protection for mother Russia by the Russians and the suffering and homesickness of the German soldiers. 

Mostly the book dramatically oversees the life of Dr Koerner and Dr Porter, two German doctors operating in a cellar in the vicinity of the "tennis racquet", the notorious city block constantly changing hands between the Russians and the Germans with horrific casualties the result. The cellar is simply overwhelmed with casualties and the doctors make do as best they can with few medical supplies or supplies which pile up in mountains but are not delivered due to beaurocratic idiocy. 

It is the friendship formed between a German soldier "Knoesel" and a Russian officer "Kaljonin" which is simply remarkable a pure gem in the suffering surrounding the two men. Knoesel, hearing the rappings of the Russian when trapped under tons of rubble, digs him out and is surprised that he is Russian, Kaljonin instead leaps into his arms for his rescue and both become deep friends. The death of Kaljonin near the end is tragic as he celebrates the end of the battle while dressed in German uniform (in order to seek his love unnoticed by the Germans) and runs towards his comrades only to be shot down as an enemy. One of the very best of books without many of the prejudices evident in Konsalik's other main war story "Doctor of Stalingrad". Konsalik's portrayal of both Russians and Germans is impressive and he doesn't shirk from showing men's weaknesses or their strengths.

A great book and worth reading in German if you are bilingual.