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The Last Panther - Slaughter of the Reich - The Halbe Kessel 1945

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While the Battle of Berlin in 1945 is widely known, the horrific story of the Halbe Kessel remains largely untold. In April 1945, victorious Soviet forces encircled 80,000 men of the German 9th Army in the Halbe area, South of Berlin, together with many thousands of German women and children. The German troops, desperate to avoid Soviet capture, battled furiously to break While the Battle of Berlin in 1945 is widely known, the horrific story of the Halbe Kessel remains largely untold. In April 1945, victorious Soviet forces encircled 80,000 men of the German 9th Army in the Halbe area, South of Berlin, together with many thousands of German women and children. The German troops, desperate to avoid Soviet capture, battled furiously to break out towards the West, where they could surrender to the comparative safety of the Americans. For the German civilians trapped in the Kessel, the quest to escape took on frantic dimensions, as the terror of Red Army brutality spread. The small town of Halbe became the eye of the hurricane for the breakout, as King Tigers of the SS Panzer Corps led the spearhead to the West, supported by Panthers of the battle-hardened 21st Panzer Division. Panzer by panzer, unit by unit, the breakout forces were cut down – until only a handful of Panthers, other armour, battered infantry units and columns of shattered refugees made a final escape through the rings of fire to the American lines. This first-hand account by the commander of one of those Panther tanks relates with devastating clarity the conditions inside the Kessel, the ferocity of the breakout attempt through Halbe, and the subsequent running battles between overwhelming Soviet forces and the exhausted Reich troops, who were using their last reserves of fuel, ammunition, strength and hope. Eloquent German-perspective accounts of World War 2 are surprisingly rare, and the recent reissue of Wolfgang Faust’s 1948 memoir ‘Tiger Tracks’ has fascinated readers around the world with its insight into the Eastern Front. In ‘The Last Panther,’ Faust used his unique knowledge of tank warfare to describe the final collapse of the Third Reich and the murderous combat between the German and Russian armies. He gives us a shocking testament to the cataclysmic final hours of the Reich, and the horrors of this last eruption of violence among the idyllic forests and meadows of Germany.


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While the Battle of Berlin in 1945 is widely known, the horrific story of the Halbe Kessel remains largely untold. In April 1945, victorious Soviet forces encircled 80,000 men of the German 9th Army in the Halbe area, South of Berlin, together with many thousands of German women and children. The German troops, desperate to avoid Soviet capture, battled furiously to break While the Battle of Berlin in 1945 is widely known, the horrific story of the Halbe Kessel remains largely untold. In April 1945, victorious Soviet forces encircled 80,000 men of the German 9th Army in the Halbe area, South of Berlin, together with many thousands of German women and children. The German troops, desperate to avoid Soviet capture, battled furiously to break out towards the West, where they could surrender to the comparative safety of the Americans. For the German civilians trapped in the Kessel, the quest to escape took on frantic dimensions, as the terror of Red Army brutality spread. The small town of Halbe became the eye of the hurricane for the breakout, as King Tigers of the SS Panzer Corps led the spearhead to the West, supported by Panthers of the battle-hardened 21st Panzer Division. Panzer by panzer, unit by unit, the breakout forces were cut down – until only a handful of Panthers, other armour, battered infantry units and columns of shattered refugees made a final escape through the rings of fire to the American lines. This first-hand account by the commander of one of those Panther tanks relates with devastating clarity the conditions inside the Kessel, the ferocity of the breakout attempt through Halbe, and the subsequent running battles between overwhelming Soviet forces and the exhausted Reich troops, who were using their last reserves of fuel, ammunition, strength and hope. Eloquent German-perspective accounts of World War 2 are surprisingly rare, and the recent reissue of Wolfgang Faust’s 1948 memoir ‘Tiger Tracks’ has fascinated readers around the world with its insight into the Eastern Front. In ‘The Last Panther,’ Faust used his unique knowledge of tank warfare to describe the final collapse of the Third Reich and the murderous combat between the German and Russian armies. He gives us a shocking testament to the cataclysmic final hours of the Reich, and the horrors of this last eruption of violence among the idyllic forests and meadows of Germany.

30 review for The Last Panther - Slaughter of the Reich - The Halbe Kessel 1945

  1. 5 out of 5

    Borge Arild

    This book claims to be a first-hand account of the battle of the Halbe in late April and early May 1945. However, it is for a number of reasons most likely a war novel in the same league as Svein Hazzels stories. While the author might have some technical understanding of tanks and how they work, he certainly does not understand how tanks die on the battlefield. There are a number of graphic scenes in the novel that simply do not happen with real tanks, but only in the fantasy of a man making up This book claims to be a first-hand account of the battle of the Halbe in late April and early May 1945. However, it is for a number of reasons most likely a war novel in the same league as Svein Hazzels stories. While the author might have some technical understanding of tanks and how they work, he certainly does not understand how tanks die on the battlefield. There are a number of graphic scenes in the novel that simply do not happen with real tanks, but only in the fantasy of a man making up a story. The book is easy to read, has a number of cliff-hangers and is provocative, but it is not what it claims to be. This is pulp fiction for those fascinated by German Panzers.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Themistocles

    This book, like the rest by Sprech Media (SS Panzer - SS Voices, The Last Panther, Tiger Tracks, Hitler's Children) is a piece of fiction. There's just too many details that point to that - from the utter and complete lack of sources or identifiable unit numbers (or ANYthing that could have led to verifications of facts) to technical and historical mistakes (for instance, the IS-3 tank appearing in a 1943 story) it's quite evident that this is not a collection of "eyewitness accounts" but merely This book, like the rest by Sprech Media (SS Panzer - SS Voices, The Last Panther, Tiger Tracks, Hitler's Children) is a piece of fiction. There's just too many details that point to that - from the utter and complete lack of sources or identifiable unit numbers (or ANYthing that could have led to verifications of facts) to technical and historical mistakes (for instance, the IS-3 tank appearing in a 1943 story) it's quite evident that this is not a collection of "eyewitness accounts" but merely a work of a very excitable imagination. Other, often repeated details give that away - the fact that from what's written 9/10 soldiers killed in WWII were decapitated (really, everything, from a single bullet to a naval shell to a 60-ton tank falling on you scenes are filled with severed heads; heads on the snow, heads on tanks, heads on tree branches, you name it), experiences that the narrator absolutely could not have seen (from a complete overview of a battle through the driver's slit to a -obviously weapon systems expert- civilian at the cellar of her home), sub-stories that read like out of a bad Hollywood script (the beautiful Russian prisoner who travels chained in the tank -like there's room for it there- or nurses exchanging sexual favors for cigarettes) - EVERYTHING about these books point to someone contemporary who has read up quite a bit and then fabricated some rather sick fantasy. Stay away!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Luongo

    Gritty, at times disturbing, view of the war's end from a German perspective. Emphasizes the horror and brutality of those final days as Germans, both military and civilian fled the onslaught of the Red armies. A good account of tank warfare as well, German Tigers and Panthers versus T34s and Stalins. An excellent primary source. Gritty, at times disturbing, view of the war's end from a German perspective. Emphasizes the horror and brutality of those final days as Germans, both military and civilian fled the onslaught of the Red armies. A good account of tank warfare as well, German Tigers and Panthers versus T34s and Stalins. An excellent primary source.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Herman

    The end of World War II from the German POV the last month of intensive combat just south of Berlin, a narrative of horror and pain that is hard to grasp it was very well done the Author obviously knew what he was talking about. The only image that comes to mind is a forest fire a terrible fire that destroys everything plant, tree, animal, everything tries if it can to escape the destruction but so few manage to make it out this is like a human fire of rockets and bullets, and flame and so few m The end of World War II from the German POV the last month of intensive combat just south of Berlin, a narrative of horror and pain that is hard to grasp it was very well done the Author obviously knew what he was talking about. The only image that comes to mind is a forest fire a terrible fire that destroys everything plant, tree, animal, everything tries if it can to escape the destruction but so few manage to make it out this is like a human fire of rockets and bullets, and flame and so few managed to make it to the American sector. A short but powerful war book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    I really liked this book, but it really feels like fiction to me. Still better than the previous book Tiger Tracks. But this is not a non fiction book. I've read plenty of first hand accounts of German panzer commanders of WW2, this is not like those. Having said that, this was still enjoyable to read. I just wish Amazon would list this properly as fiction. I really liked this book, but it really feels like fiction to me. Still better than the previous book Tiger Tracks. But this is not a non fiction book. I've read plenty of first hand accounts of German panzer commanders of WW2, this is not like those. Having said that, this was still enjoyable to read. I just wish Amazon would list this properly as fiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    Some images will stay with me for life. Not sure if I'm enriched or ruined because of it. Some images will stay with me for life. Not sure if I'm enriched or ruined because of it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Macarthur-King

    Emotionally exhausting, detailed account of a horrific part of the Second World War from the perspective of a German tank commander. I was struck by the intricate details recounted by the author of accounts that most people would blank from their minds forever due to the terror and stress. Secondly, I found it interesting how the author notes how material possessions become valueless in such conditions, where food, ammo and fuel become the only currency. Human destruction on this scale, inflicte Emotionally exhausting, detailed account of a horrific part of the Second World War from the perspective of a German tank commander. I was struck by the intricate details recounted by the author of accounts that most people would blank from their minds forever due to the terror and stress. Secondly, I found it interesting how the author notes how material possessions become valueless in such conditions, where food, ammo and fuel become the only currency. Human destruction on this scale, inflicted by humans is almost impossible to imagine. A must read book for anyone who wants to be reminded of the relative paradise we currently live in in the first world.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mark Jeffs

    This was a brutal account of a desperate battle to break across river Elbe at the end of the second world war by a mixture of German soldiers looking to surrender to the Americans to avoid the retribution and gulags of the Soviets. Amongst these units is a panther commanded by Wolfgang Faust. The panther is their deadliest weapon in there fight to break through. The account is viseral, bloody and dramatic. There are many atrocities described in the account in vivid detail but with a detatchment t This was a brutal account of a desperate battle to break across river Elbe at the end of the second world war by a mixture of German soldiers looking to surrender to the Americans to avoid the retribution and gulags of the Soviets. Amongst these units is a panther commanded by Wolfgang Faust. The panther is their deadliest weapon in there fight to break through. The account is viseral, bloody and dramatic. There are many atrocities described in the account in vivid detail but with a detatchment that shows how the commander had become numbed to the violence and horror of war. At many points fighting turns into slaughter. The account shows many similarities to Tiger Tracks in which it condenses a lot of experiences into a narrative account. The book is an experience and no matter its veracity it does show the horrors and desperate acts that war can lead to.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike Hales

    Fascinating and horrifying The slaughter is endless as is the brutality but this book contains a view of the war I'd not seen before. The gradual stripping away of humanity in the war setting is awful but the practicality of the writing somehow softens the horror. A chilling reminder. Fascinating and horrifying The slaughter is endless as is the brutality but this book contains a view of the war I'd not seen before. The gradual stripping away of humanity in the war setting is awful but the practicality of the writing somehow softens the horror. A chilling reminder.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Great story This was a very interesting and enthralling story-a real page turner. I would certainly recommend this. It was like the Odyssey in the time of World War II

  11. 4 out of 5

    Zeth Sampson

    Very good read, horrific but that's war. He may have embellished it slightly but it must have been hell for the people trying to make it back. Very good read, horrific but that's war. He may have embellished it slightly but it must have been hell for the people trying to make it back.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gavin O'Brien

    I would like to open very briefly by highlighting that I do not believe this work, regardless of the intro, is an actual memoir written by a former soldier Wolfgang Faust. In truth I doubt the latter ever existed. The Publisher and Translator, Sprech Media, have released a number of similar war titles over the last two years, and the translator noted at the end of the work does not turn up anywhere other than as part of the Sprech Media fold. Within the work itself the author names none of those I would like to open very briefly by highlighting that I do not believe this work, regardless of the intro, is an actual memoir written by a former soldier Wolfgang Faust. In truth I doubt the latter ever existed. The Publisher and Translator, Sprech Media, have released a number of similar war titles over the last two years, and the translator noted at the end of the work does not turn up anywhere other than as part of the Sprech Media fold. Within the work itself the author names none of those closest to him, in truth less than three names are used throughout the whole work. He also declines to mention which unit or division he was part of, or give any background about himself to how he came to be where he is. Finally the work itself reads more like a script drawn from a Hollywood action movie, in truth I feel it would make an exciting one, but is unbelievable in its content in many places, mostly the battles, especially when held up against other primary sources. Though I will leave it to the reader to come to their own conclusions I shall be treating this work as a fictional memoir or novel which I believe it truly is. "The Last Panther" is an incredibly vivid, fast paced, and engrossing story of the journey of a German tank squad and their fellow soldiers and civilian refugees as they attempt to cross the Spree Wald of eastern Germany, reach the Elbe river and surrender to the American Army, thus avoiding capture by a vengeful Russian army and certain death in the prisons of Siberia. The main story itself takes place over a period of five days, with subsequent sections much later, and is told entirely from the perspective of the "author" Wolfgang Faust. The presentation of the horror engulfing the now destroyed German state is thrillingly presented. The constant fear of attack by the Russians, the terrified, tired and worn out soldiers, many too exhausted to bother fighting any longer, and the vast hordes of civilian refugees whose only instinct now is survival. The battles described on their flight westward are grim, as the Russian Army launches constant and relentless counter-attacks and artillery bombardments against the long column as it trundles forward. However it is not just the Russians who are to be feared. Among the ranks of the German forces are groups of SS soldiers and field police trying to keep order among the ranks but killing those who refuse to fight or show defeatist attitudes. There are former German soldiers, long since captured by the Russians, but who now flight along side them, sneaking into the German lines causing havoc, and hindering the progress west. Central to the story are a number of key elements. The first is found in their duty to Germany, to be there and help to rebuild her after the War, something which will not be possible should they be captured by the Russians. The heroic idea of the soldier is naturally present, of fighting against overwhelming odds and of refusing to give in, at least for now, to the inevitable downfall. The protagonist is constantly with odds against himself to try and scratch some essence of glory, of heroism from the crumbling world around him, but he is also under no illusion that what is currently befalling them was entirely of their own doing. Finally there is the Panther tank itself. The idea of the Panther role in the story are far more than just a tool of war. To the protagonist this machine is a second home, a world which only he and his crew truly know, it is a living beast protecting him and the horde of soldiers and civilians following behind. It is the only real protection they have against the Soviet Army, one which time and again turns out to be their saving grace. In the end the reader too grows attached to this metal monster, and the reality is ever present that without it, the actors of this story will have no chance of survival. Overall "The Last Panther" is a very enjoyable war novel and will be of interest to anyone who has an interest in the final days of world war two. Many people will take issue with this work, commenting on its depiction of the Russians unsympathetic monsters who blast through hordes of civilians and soldiers alike with their tanks and artillery, or on the heroic and defiant depictions of the SS or Wehrmacht. But it must be remembered that this work is supposed to be a "memoir" of a soldier from the German perspective on the closing days of the war and in this role I feel it does a good job, and gives an authentic feel of tone, provides historically believable emotions and feelings and images of the war, as well as the over the top elements of battles which all too often later filter into folk memory and legend. As such I would recommend this novel as an exciting, fast paced and easy read suited to anyone with an interest in the closing days of world war two.

  13. 4 out of 5

    William Webb

    There seems to be significant debate about whether this book is fiction or truth. Told in first person, the author gives no details about his own unit or those fighting around him, no names that we can verify his story with, nothing to prove it one way or the other. And yet this doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of reading it. IF the book is fiction, as many think it is, then the author has written a brilliant story that required intimate knowledge of many aspects of operating a Panther. There seems to be significant debate about whether this book is fiction or truth. Told in first person, the author gives no details about his own unit or those fighting around him, no names that we can verify his story with, nothing to prove it one way or the other. And yet this doesn't interfere with the enjoyment of reading it. IF the book is fiction, as many think it is, then the author has written a brilliant story that required intimate knowledge of many aspects of operating a Panther.

  14. 4 out of 5

    K.C. Sivils

    This autobiographical account of the Halbe Kessel reads like a novel. The author, Wolfgang Faust, commanded a German Panther. A veteran of the Eastern Front, he'd seen more than his share of horror. What he witnessed in the Halbe Kessel made even a hardened veteran take pause. It's a bit strange reading a book about WW II where the Germans are not the bad guys (I'm American) as the story tells of the frantic attempt at escape by German military personnel and civilians. Hoping to reach the America This autobiographical account of the Halbe Kessel reads like a novel. The author, Wolfgang Faust, commanded a German Panther. A veteran of the Eastern Front, he'd seen more than his share of horror. What he witnessed in the Halbe Kessel made even a hardened veteran take pause. It's a bit strange reading a book about WW II where the Germans are not the bad guys (I'm American) as the story tells of the frantic attempt at escape by German military personnel and civilians. Hoping to reach the American line at the River Elbe, Faust and his crew must first fight their way into the Halbe Kessel, cross the enveloped area, and then fight their way out of the trapped pocket to the Americans. Even with the normal rigid discipline of the German military largely gone, those soldiers who want to live put up a fierce fight to escape the cruel fate that awaits them if captured by the Soviets. Upon stepping back from the drama of the story and considering what was at stake, the story demonstrates the extreme cruelty of the Soviet military. Yes, the German war machine was certainly guilty of war crimes of unimaginable cruelty and were the invaders of the Soviet nation, all of which would certainly create a strong desire for revenge. None of that explains the slaughter of Russian POWs who were forced into slave labor by the Germans (1.5 million of which would be returned to the Soviet Union by the U.S. and Britain following the war upon Stalin's demand. All of whom were put to death and their families sent to Siberia. Their crime - they had been taken prisoner). The region of Germany where the town of Halbe was located had been overrun by Russian forces on their way to Berlin. The German forces trapped in the Kessel were no threat to the Soviet war machine. The war would be over in days. Rather than being content to keep the trapped German soldiers in the pocket, the Russians suffered considerable casualties as a result of their efforts to slaughter everyone, soldier and civilian, in the pocket. Faust describes the Soviet fighting style which could basically be described as human wave tactics. Faust and his crew were limited in their ability to kill only by the limited amount of ammunition available to them. Russian T-34 tanks went into battle carrying infantry, infantry who died the instant a round from Faust's Panther hit the T-34 in one instance. It was common for the tank riders to dismount once the T-34's engaged Faust and his crew only to be run over and crushed by their own tanks. It was a bit strange, but interesting, to read the translated version which retained the German military's slang for its own weapons, formations and the enemy. Faust wrote down his experiences within his year of captivity as an American POW but waited decades to publish his memoir. For those interested in historical accounts written by participants instead of professional historians, this is a great read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Guy

    The book is not well crafted, but the author was not a writer but a tank commander in the 21st Panzer Division of the German Wehrmacht in May 1945. Consequently the style is unsophisticated and virtually a continuous, straightforward narrative. Perhaps this is best, because what Wolfgang Faust describes is simply Hell on Earth. This is warfare at it's most savage where more civilians were being slaughtered than soldiers. The Soviets were exacting a bloody, terrifying revenge upon the fallen Reich The book is not well crafted, but the author was not a writer but a tank commander in the 21st Panzer Division of the German Wehrmacht in May 1945. Consequently the style is unsophisticated and virtually a continuous, straightforward narrative. Perhaps this is best, because what Wolfgang Faust describes is simply Hell on Earth. This is warfare at it's most savage where more civilians were being slaughtered than soldiers. The Soviets were exacting a bloody, terrifying revenge upon the fallen Reich and the situation was simple -kill or be killed with the civilians joining in the fight for survival. In places it was reminiscent of Anthony Beevor's 'Berlin' as it details atrocity after atrocity and had Beevor written it, it would have been as sensational a piece. So do not read this for its literary construction, but as a piece on the raw horror of war. However, I suspect this book to be a piece of total fiction. There is little geographic detail and even less unit detail. What this man sees from the driver's viewing slot of a Panzer V is beyond reasonable belief. The Eastern Front was hell on earth for all sides, but I simply cannot believe what is written here as fact.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    This is supposedly a first-hand account of the Battle of Halbe in 1945, where the German Ninth Army attempted to break out of the Russian encirclement of the Spree Forest and head West, the object being to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russians. The author's name is apparently a pseudonym, and it's not clear who the actual author is, so estimating the authenticity of the account is difficult. Also, details presented in his other works, notably Tiger Tracks, have been effectively debu This is supposedly a first-hand account of the Battle of Halbe in 1945, where the German Ninth Army attempted to break out of the Russian encirclement of the Spree Forest and head West, the object being to surrender to the Americans rather than the Russians. The author's name is apparently a pseudonym, and it's not clear who the actual author is, so estimating the authenticity of the account is difficult. Also, details presented in his other works, notably Tiger Tracks, have been effectively debunked - encounters with Russian tanks a year before their actual introduction, and so forth. But I didn't know this going in! The actual prose reads like the actual soldier wrote his version, and then someone else did an adjective pass and a gore pass, and as a result it's more like a war porn (eg Sven Hassel) rather than respectable memoir (eg Gunther Koschorrek and others). If you can deal with the writing being a overambitious and the obviously added details that couldn't possibly have been witnessed, then IMHO there is a core of authenticity in the account.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ifor

    This is quite difficult to rate. It either gets near top marks, or none. If this is, as it claims, a true story, then it deserves praise and commendation as a gritty, realistic retelling of war. For all those observing that he "cant" have seen all that he saw - most of the book takes place with him scanning the periscope of his panther - it was his job to see, as well as being life or death for his crew. However, there remain some doubts as to whether this is all a fantasy retelling of a historic This is quite difficult to rate. It either gets near top marks, or none. If this is, as it claims, a true story, then it deserves praise and commendation as a gritty, realistic retelling of war. For all those observing that he "cant" have seen all that he saw - most of the book takes place with him scanning the periscope of his panther - it was his job to see, as well as being life or death for his crew. However, there remain some doubts as to whether this is all a fantasy retelling of a historic period, masquerading as autobiography. I would not have any qualms with a history of the kessel in 1945 and there are no doubts as to the horrors witnessed there. There are moments, as the solution to the photo, as the Russian in the basement, tgat are all a bit "neat". If this is fantasy, we should be advised as such in the book description. I am choosing to give the book the benefit of the doubt with my 4 star rating. Doubts do, indubitably, remain.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    There is a great deal of speculation about this book and others including Tiger Tracks and D-Day Through German Eyes. I, too am sceptical of the authenticity of this book. Other reviewers have substantiated their case through tangible detail. For me, I find the lack of content around tank mates most disturbing. In close quarters, even for a few months, human character and behaviour will be more imprinted than the recollection of weaponry and firefight details. So I suggest readers view this as e There is a great deal of speculation about this book and others including Tiger Tracks and D-Day Through German Eyes. I, too am sceptical of the authenticity of this book. Other reviewers have substantiated their case through tangible detail. For me, I find the lack of content around tank mates most disturbing. In close quarters, even for a few months, human character and behaviour will be more imprinted than the recollection of weaponry and firefight details. So I suggest readers view this as enjoyable historical fiction with more than a few inaccuracies. I intend to avoid other works from this publisher.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Swystun

    There is a great deal of speculation about this book and others including Tiger Tracks and D-Day Through German Eyes. I, too am sceptical of the authenticity of this book. Other reviewers have substantiated their case through tangible detail. For me, I find the lack of content around tank mates most disturbing. In close quarters, even for a few months, human character and behaviour will be more imprinted than the recollection of weaponry and firefight details. So I suggest readers view this as e There is a great deal of speculation about this book and others including Tiger Tracks and D-Day Through German Eyes. I, too am sceptical of the authenticity of this book. Other reviewers have substantiated their case through tangible detail. For me, I find the lack of content around tank mates most disturbing. In close quarters, even for a few months, human character and behaviour will be more imprinted than the recollection of weaponry and firefight details. So I suggest readers view this as enjoyable historical fiction with more than a few inaccuracies. I intend to avoid other works from this publisher.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Al

    The only things about this book that seemed to be true statements are the title page and the page numbering. If it had been accurately advertised as a novel, I would have given two stars. Not even good as fiction.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Lee

    It's a good story, but I don't think its 100% accurate. I think Faust may have been a real tanker, but the story is embellished. There's just no way he could have seen the whole of the battlefield the way he describes it from the narrow field of view he had. It's a good story, but I don't think its 100% accurate. I think Faust may have been a real tanker, but the story is embellished. There's just no way he could have seen the whole of the battlefield the way he describes it from the narrow field of view he had.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim Sanderson

    Well done, not happy. Faust is clearly not a fan of how we treat each other.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I just finished and this is a gritty, often graphic novel depicting war through the eyes of a tank leader. But here's my only rub; what's real? The hatred between Russians and Germans is well documented. They would not hesitate to kill each other and prisoners were often not taken. But in my opinion, these books by Wolfgang are too fantastical. Too precise. Too Hollywood. So many things are believable, but the fact his tanks get hit but don't blow up, while everyone else's does has that Bruce Wi I just finished and this is a gritty, often graphic novel depicting war through the eyes of a tank leader. But here's my only rub; what's real? The hatred between Russians and Germans is well documented. They would not hesitate to kill each other and prisoners were often not taken. But in my opinion, these books by Wolfgang are too fantastical. Too precise. Too Hollywood. So many things are believable, but the fact his tanks get hit but don't blow up, while everyone else's does has that Bruce Willis edge to it. Does that mean these things didn't happen? No, not at all, but I'm of the belief that the author has taken quite a few liberties describing his war experiences to make the book more engaging and entertaining. Which it is. This book is captivating; had me hooked from page 1. Regardless of my thoughts or feelings, go out and read this book because if nothing else you will be entertained and you will find yourself asking questions and wondering what really happened to all these people caught up in World War II. For me, this was one of the truest, most honest passages that any combat Vet can relate to. "Some nights, I did not let myself sleep, knowing that I would see the Halbe Kessel again, and above all the dead Russian man in the cellar, whose friend gave his steel helmet to the German child. Why did that one Russian visit me at night, after all the scores that I had killed...?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paul Janiszewski

    The forces of collective vision continually colour the path of thought. Judgement is initiated, compounded and perpetuated through "intellectual authority" with regard to perceived values of provenance, validity and execution of the written material. Wolfgang Faust's - 'The Last Panther' is largely relegated to the ether of myth and legend. Indeed reference to this memoir does not appear in any serious bibliography nor footnote. I myself had made a conscious decision to avoid it. Critical judgem The forces of collective vision continually colour the path of thought. Judgement is initiated, compounded and perpetuated through "intellectual authority" with regard to perceived values of provenance, validity and execution of the written material. Wolfgang Faust's - 'The Last Panther' is largely relegated to the ether of myth and legend. Indeed reference to this memoir does not appear in any serious bibliography nor footnote. I myself had made a conscious decision to avoid it. Critical judgement of the memoir emphasized a lack of provenance, a concern with over detailed, exaggerated, unbelievable gore, and of course a lack of writers skill. All traits of an attention seeking, sham, populist publication. As a matter of coincidence i had attended Antony Beevor's presentation of his new work 'Arnham' as part of the Sydney Writer's Festival. In this preview he quoted a number of memoir excerpts. One detailed an account of a severed head on a spike mounted at the head of a jeep. It would seem then, that one must surely not stray from the recognized reading list. Take for example Filip Muller - ' Eyewitness Auschwitz' (see my previous review in Goodreads). This "legitimate" primary source memoir is referred to in many a serious bibliography. It seems this rendition of the "over detailed" and "unbelievable" does not warrant the doubt that surrounds Panzer Faust... ooops Wolfgang Faust. For these reasons you might like to read both publications but ditch the preconceptions.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    It's a gripping narrative but therefore because of that it's easy to suspect that it is to a degree fictionalised. No names (except for the author of course) and one is left wondering how the author could remember all that happened. Some incidents, it is the case, would be seared on anyone's memory for the rest of their life. Having said that, the combat is tense, brutal and raw, and the life of a tanker (from what I've read elsewhere) is well-captured. Death comes quickly and horribly for men w It's a gripping narrative but therefore because of that it's easy to suspect that it is to a degree fictionalised. No names (except for the author of course) and one is left wondering how the author could remember all that happened. Some incidents, it is the case, would be seared on anyone's memory for the rest of their life. Having said that, the combat is tense, brutal and raw, and the life of a tanker (from what I've read elsewhere) is well-captured. Death comes quickly and horribly for men who serve these metal monsters should the carapace be penetrated. The book is short - it is after all the memoir of a single operation, escape from der Kessel, with numerous skirmishes, nasty, brutal and short. No quarter is given or asked. The civilian refugees figure little as spear carriers sans spears but suffer the same fates as the combatants, be they dealt out by the 'enemy' or 'friendlies' (or the Seydlitztruppen, a new discovery for me). Rape of women and girls as prizes of war is ever present but there is no prurient dwelling on such incidents, to the author's credit. So read it, if not enjoy it, in a questioning manner. Such things did happen to many during that war, if one cannot be sure such things happened to the author himself.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mai-Lan Hanley

    Interesting Real Once again a first hand description of the horrors of modern war from the experiences of one who had been there. Interesting in that this was a German Soldier and a tank commander toward the end of the war with the Russians during the final days! The book offers an insight into things we don't normally hear given our focus on the battles in Western Europe following D Day. I arrived in Germany the first time in 1962 seventeen years after the war. Even then much of the aftermath o Interesting Real Once again a first hand description of the horrors of modern war from the experiences of one who had been there. Interesting in that this was a German Soldier and a tank commander toward the end of the war with the Russians during the final days! The book offers an insight into things we don't normally hear given our focus on the battles in Western Europe following D Day. I arrived in Germany the first time in 1962 seventeen years after the war. Even then much of the aftermath of the fighting was still visible in Augsburg were I was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry. There was a number of ruins of concrete pill boxes in my Kasern and all the facilities there had been used by German soldiers and I remember one of the messhalls had a 2d floor balcony overlooking hardtop parade grounds and the story was that Hitler had addressed the troops from there! As a child of that war born exactly four months after Pearl Harbor, I was fascinated by the whole experience. The description by this German Panzer Commander made some of my experiences come alive for me! Definitely a good read and highly recommended!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Simon Mulqueen

    It's not a bad book, exceptionally violent and to-the-point in its writing as if it were written by a soldier and not an author. However I can't shake the feeling that so many others echo - that it's a piece of fiction. There appears to be no historical evidence for the author, also during the book there's never any word of the unit they're in beyond ''the 9th army'' and for the length of the book the crew of the Panther are not named, Gunner, Loader, Radioman etc. they're all just called by the It's not a bad book, exceptionally violent and to-the-point in its writing as if it were written by a soldier and not an author. However I can't shake the feeling that so many others echo - that it's a piece of fiction. There appears to be no historical evidence for the author, also during the book there's never any word of the unit they're in beyond ''the 9th army'' and for the length of the book the crew of the Panther are not named, Gunner, Loader, Radioman etc. they're all just called by their position and never given names. It's possible that it's real and the author was watching his back by not naming names after the war, remember it was allegedly written in the 50s. There were a lot of horrible events in this book and maybe he thought he was doing everyone involved a favour by just telling the story without names involved, but the fact the crew of his own tank don't have names is a huge red flag for me.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Devine

    Faust's second book of his experiences during the final days of the war kept me riveted. From beginning to end his harrowing experiences as he and his crew made their last ditch attempt to escape the Russian juggernaut that hounded them seeking to destroy every German in its path, not caring if they were soldier or civilian. The absolute horrors he faced exceeded anything he had seen on the Russian front. He recounts the myriad of things that happened to him and around him as he and his crew fou Faust's second book of his experiences during the final days of the war kept me riveted. From beginning to end his harrowing experiences as he and his crew made their last ditch attempt to escape the Russian juggernaut that hounded them seeking to destroy every German in its path, not caring if they were soldier or civilian. The absolute horrors he faced exceeded anything he had seen on the Russian front. He recounts the myriad of things that happened to him and around him as he and his crew fought with and ran from the never ending onslaught of the Red Army. From tank battles to artillery and rocket barrages to bombing and cannon fire from Soviet aircraft as he and a flood of soldiers and civilians fought their way to the Elbe River hoping to surrender to the Americans rather than face certain death from the Soviets.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Guy

    This is a book of fiction. I'm fairly sure of this. Those of us who are used to reading military memoirs will know that although violence is a part of the story its not usually as brutally described as it is in this book. Veterans tend to draw a line under the depths they go. This book is extremely gory and graphic to the point it just comes across as a work of fiction. Its just dream world stuff put together by a part-time historian playing on the readers lust for gore. It uses shock tactics to en This is a book of fiction. I'm fairly sure of this. Those of us who are used to reading military memoirs will know that although violence is a part of the story its not usually as brutally described as it is in this book. Veterans tend to draw a line under the depths they go. This book is extremely gory and graphic to the point it just comes across as a work of fiction. Its just dream world stuff put together by a part-time historian playing on the readers lust for gore. It uses shock tactics to entice the reader. It just doesn't read right, its not a real memoir. The mundane of military life and personal life giving a memoir credibility is just not there. Nope, not having it! If you take it as a work of fiction then its not too bad but to me I don't like the fact its put forward as a genuine. Don't be fooled!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hans Brienesse

    Harrowing and concise, this is the gripping story of the close of the Second World War in Europe in all it's savagery and pathos. The author in this reminiscence brings to us who were not there all the details of just what it was like to be fighting for your life when the end is so near in distance terms yet so far in real terms. The details of the butchery and treachery in this small sector of the front are graphic and true; the author holds nothing back. Those who hold the glory in war must ne Harrowing and concise, this is the gripping story of the close of the Second World War in Europe in all it's savagery and pathos. The author in this reminiscence brings to us who were not there all the details of just what it was like to be fighting for your life when the end is so near in distance terms yet so far in real terms. The details of the butchery and treachery in this small sector of the front are graphic and true; the author holds nothing back. Those who hold the glory in war must never have been exposed to the raw human carnage described here. As with Tiger Tracks by the same author this is one book all who try to understand men under arms and under siege, in fear of a fate worse than a quick death, should read. Five big stars from me.

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