“I remember that, in Russia, one forward observer requested fire onto his own position when the situation had become hopeless. So, rather than falling into Russian hands, he preferred to be killed by the German artillery.
Those are the real heroes.
Well, and then the final order came saying: ‘Destroy all vehicles! Shoot the horses! Each man take as much hand ammunition and supplies as he can carry! Every man for himself!’ Then just try to save your skin! Some were nervous, no longer in control of themselves, and then the bombers would drop their bombs again and you tried to find a place somewhere into which to duck.
We tried to break out but we were getting fired on and then there was panic. An ordinary soldier, a young chap, was lying or sitting there under a birch tree.
There are an enormous amount of birch trees in Russia, you see. He was sitting there and his intestines were spilling out of his body. And he was screaming: ‘Somebody shoot me, somebody shoot me!’ And everybody walked by. I had to stop but I could not shoot him. And then a young second lieutenant from the sappers arrived and delivered the coup de grace with a pistol to his temple.
And that’s when I cried bitter tears. I thought to myself, if his mother only knew how her boy ended. Instead all she will receive is a letter from the squadron saying: ‘Your son fell on the field of honour for Great Germany.’ This was the kind of wording the squadron commanders had to send to the bereaved, you see.”
– Heinz Fiedler, German Army. Eastern Front.
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.