In Deadly Combat

A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front
Narrated by: Paul Woodson
Length: 13 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (264 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Wounded five times and awarded numerous decorations for valor, Gottlob Herbert Bidermann saw action in the Crimea and siege of Sebastopol, participated in the vicious battles in the forests south of Leningrad, and ended the war in the Courland Pocket.

In his memoir, he shares his impressions of countless Russian POWs seen at the outset of his service, of peasants struggling to survive the hostilities while caught between two ruthless antagonists, and of corpses littering the landscape. He recalls a Christmas gift of gingerbread from home that overcame the stench of battle, an Easter celebrated with a basket of Russian hand grenades for eggs, and his miraculous survival of machine gun fire at close range. In closing, he relives the humiliation of surrender to an enemy whom the Germans had once derided and offers a sobering glimpse into life in the Soviet gulags. Bidermann's account debunks the myth of a highly mechanized German army that rolled over weaker opponents with impunity.

Despite the vast expanses of territory captured by the Germans during the early months of Operation Barbarossa, the war with Russia remained tenuous and unforgiving. His story commits that living hell to the annals of World War II and broadens our understanding of its most deadly combat zone.

©2000 The University Press of Kansas (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Stands head and shoulders above the many other books in this genre. Bidermann's style is crisp, succinct, and lucid and Zumbro has done a great job of translating." (David Glantz, coauthor of The Battle of Kursk)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as engaging as others

While the story is fine, the author spends too much time recounting broader historical overviews of operations rather than sticking to his personal experiences. There are better options of the genre that are more engaging, such as Tigers in the mud and Fur Volk Fuhre.

9 people found this helpful

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don't hesitate

this book was amazing, from the beginning of the war all the way to the gulags at the end of the Germans Odyssey through World War II. this book offers you a chance to see through the eyes of a common German Soldier and not the extremist regime of Adolf Hitler as most historic references portray. this book gives you the opportunity to see Humanity as equals, controlled by extremist groups and Idol ology

6 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

War in the east is barely covered like ut is here

Really great story of just how difficult and important the war in the east is. Great book.

3 people found this helpful

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Unique Unknown History

A "deep in the weeds", yet very personal and interesting story of unbelievably torturous life on the Eastern front. Much like reading about Would help to better describe the geography of the campaigns. Also, due to repeated use of different German military units and specific German military ranks, there needs to be a repeated description, or cross reference, during the story.

3 people found this helpful

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A very moving memoir...

This book gave me a dark, in depth look at the realities of the eastern fronts brutality. The memoir does a great job of showing the human element of that brutal war. I will listen to the well read narration again in the future I'm sure!

2 people found this helpful

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Hearing the WWII story from a German soldier is great

After reading many books by former German soldiers, and trying to understand how they could continue fighting a lost war still is impenetrable to me.
We should really be aware that our human mind is self destructive if brought under some conditions, and that killing other humans in high quantity seems to become accepted by us as, paradoxically a way to survive.

5 people found this helpful

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The Only WWII Book I Couldn't Finish

The narrator is abominable, it's like listening to captain Kirk narrate an entire book. Most of the time the inflection doesn't remotely match the tone of the words themselves.
The story itself is subpar to average. Nothing really interesting or compelling in the story. You don't really get to know the writer, and you definitely don't get to know ant of his comrades or fellow soldiers. He states about 3 dozen times that the comradeship of the unit was of the utmost importance, but he almost never even bothers to name any of his squadmates, and at no point describes or characterizes them, so the ones he does name are just random names.
I love reading about World War II and have read dozens of books on the topic. But, I couldn't even finish this one between the horrendous narrator and bland story

1 person found this helpful

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Great book!

This book is really awesome! It takes you into the battle zone with full details on what happened, what he went through, and what was going on through his mind as he went through it all! The only issue I have with this book of that he doesn’t give much of his background story from before he went to war. A lot of other books written by soldiers who were actually there, also give their background story from when they were kids, how they grew up, and basically explain how they got to be in the war. In this book, Bidermann basically just jumps right in into the the war on the eastern front against the Soviet Union. Yes it’s good that out gets straight to the point but some background story would have been great too. Especially considering he also fought against France and Poland, which he vaguely mentions a couple times, hearing what hg went through they would have been great as well! Also, a lot of the other books written by soldiers also go into detail to explain what occupations they ended up having after their captivity by the allies. In this book, Bidermann explains what he went through while in captivity, but cuts off and ends the book when he b gets to the per where he was released. I would have loved to hear about what he did after his captivity and bring back in to civilian life in post war Germany. Still overall a great read/ listen! Highly recommended for any history/ WWII buff!

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An epic story

A richly detailed and comprehensive memoir, well narrated. What an epic struggle it must have been

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Very detailed...

It is a matter of fact listen for any studious person of the Eastern front...

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  • Mark
  • 06-16-17

simply a superb listen...

I really enjoyed this audiobook. I dont remember a dull section. Its great if you enjoy history.

5 people found this helpful

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  • phphoto
  • 05-31-17

A balanced and well written piece.

A well deserved five stars given. An amazing story from the "other" side of the terrible conflict. Good narrator, interesting voice and delivered in measured even tone.

3 people found this helpful

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  • qwerty
  • 12-05-17

Quantity has a quality all it's own

Well read. Factual as far as is possible to know. Good listen but hard to feel too sorry for German POW's considering the mess they made of the world and its population. Good insight into low level attitudes from junior leaders perspective.

1 person found this helpful

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  • aristotle
  • 09-17-19

what a terrible time they lived through

it's rare to hear the German side of things after decades of propaganda. It must have been hell, their lives stolen from them for egotistical politicians

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-11-19

Bidermann

Great to hear the personal experiences of those who were there and survived the war.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jason Rimmer
  • 06-20-19

A very good one!

This is one of the first of many German WW2 memoirs I've read. I decided to listen to the audible version aswell years later.

A highly recommend memoir. Up there with the likes of Soldat by S Knappe and Grenadiers by K Meyer.

Go for it. No real preference to written or audible versions to be honest. Audible I find can really come into its own with fiction. Good fiction and a great narrator can turn an OK book into a must listen can't turn off experience. Though a great book with poor narration ruins it.

Which ever format you choose you will enjoy it. This book started a huge part of my library, both WW2 and WW1 memoirs.

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  • TJA
  • 11-18-17

Excellent apart from some narration

Excellent book and to be fair on the most part well read apart from mispronunciation of place names. You would of thought if you were a professional narrator you would do your homework but obviously I expect too much. As ever nice to hear from the German soldiers angle

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  • M. Sauka
  • 10-30-17

Review

Author is too detailed on minor facts, but lacks details where it felt that they are needed. Good read, but in many places was boring

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  • Rew
  • 06-29-17

A poignant and compelling story

Bidermann's story is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a German soldier on the Eastern front - written simply, elegantly, and without dwelling on the politics of the war, nor on the horrors.

While it's always hard to know how genuine are claims of moral behaviour - he seems to not have harmed or abused a single non-combatant in all of his years of struggle - this story certainly gives the reader an empathy for the German soldier on the Eastern front, a character usually villified as a soulless automaton driven by evil.

Well worth listening.

1 person found this helpful