The epic Second World War battles between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are the subject of a vast literature, but little has been published in English on the experiences of ordinary individuals - civilians and soldiers - who were sucked into a bitter conflict that marked their lives forever. Their struggle for survival, and their resistance to the brutality of the invaders in the occupied territories, is one of the great untold stories of the war, and that is why Nikolai Obryn'ba's unforgettable, intimate memoir is of such value. The author vividly recalls the German advance, being taken prisoner, the horrors of the prison camps and his escape, his experiences fighting behind German lines as a partisan, and the world of suffering and tragedy he saw around him. His perceptive, uncompromising account gives a memorable insight into the everyday reality of war on the Eastern Front.
'Surprised along with his countryman by Hitler's Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union, young amateur sketch artist Nikolai Obryn'ba became an instant soldier in the Moscow Opolchanie [People's militia] just in time to join the Red Army and be swallowed up with 350,000 of his fellow Red Army soldiers in the infamous Viaz'ma encirclement, where he marched westward as a prisoner-of-war. Miraculously surviving the brutal rigors of several SS POW camps, Nikolai escaped to join a Partisan band operating in the German Army's deep rear and, equally miraculously, lived to return to safety behind Red Army lines.Nikolai's simple and candid yet gripping memoir presents a credible mosaic of vivid images of life in the Red Army during the harrowing first few months of the war and unprecedented details about his participation in the brutal but shadowy partisan war that raged deep in the German Army's rear.A must read for those seeking a human face on this most inhuman of Twentieth Century wars.'David Glantz