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This is the true story of how one soldier experienced the horrors and bloodshed of World War II — and lived to tell the tale.
Hans Fackler, like many boys his age, was conscripted into the Wehrmacht at the age of seventeen and sent to the Eastern Front. A pioneer in the infantry, he barely survived the carnage of the front lines and lost comrades to the Russian forces.
Eventually, Hans suffered a grievous injury from a grenade explosion. No longer able to fight, he found himself drugged on morphine and ob board the controversial Wilhelm Gustloff, an armed military transport ship for SS, Gestapo and Wehrmacht personnel, which operated under the guise of transporting civilians.
The Gustloff was attacked and sunk by Russian torpedoes, drowning more than 9,000 passengers. Rescued by a German freighter, Hans recuperated in a military hospital near Erfurt in the Harz, which subsequently fell into the Russian zone. He escaped and undertook the arduous task of walking almost 200 miles back home to Bavaria.
The extraordinary first-person account of one of the few soldier-survivors of the sinking of the Gustloff, it also includes Hans’ experiences of taking part in the Kiev and the Vercors mountains massacres in 1941 and 1944 respectively.