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Once I had a Comrade

ISBN: 1 874622 58 2
Review Date:

I came across this memoir at the book store, and only purchased it after speaking to a friend about it. Upon reading it, I'm not disappointed.

The book is written by the son-in-law of Karl Roth, who was a tank maintenance soldier. It covers the combat history of the 36th Panzer Regiment during the war. The book is broken down into 5 parts from before the war to after the war, with a few chapters in each part. Everything from the first attacks in Poland and France, through the Balkans, and the battles in Russia are covered, including Stalingrad. The Regiment ended up in the Courland Pocket which I found very interesting as I have not read too many memoirs from this theatre. All 6 battles are covered with how the 36th Regiment was employed and the ultimate fate of "battle groups" that end up getting fragmented off. There are enough "first person" accounts of fellow soldiers to keep the reader well informed of what was really happening. The book is well covered in photos from both the Bundsarchive and fellow soldiers, including many that I have never seen before.

I did find the book did jump around a bit with the story of Karl Roth, then it goes to his friends and then back to the unit then back to Karl. This in no way detracts from the book but did, at times, cause it to not "flow" smoothly.

It is more a unit history than a memoir. Nevertheless, it is still highly recommended as both a memoir (as it is called) and definitely as an unit history.

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Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935