Book Review – Andreas Hartinger (ed), Until the Eyes Shut [memoir of Hans Kahr] (Warsaw, Poland: Amazon, 2019)

This book is the recollection of Han Kahr during his service as a machine gunner in the 138th Mountain Regiment, 3rd Mountain Division, between late 1943 to the end of the war.[1]

Kahr was born in 1925 in Eastern Styria in Austria into an agricultural community where his father was a peasant farmer.[2] He enlisted in 1941 and saw action in the southern and west Ukraine, Romania and Hungary before being captured by Soviet forces.

This memoir follows many of the themes of other accounts by former members of the Wehrmacht; the power of comradeship, the harsh conditions, the brutal enemy and the desperation of the final six months of the conflict. Kahr makes a slight reference to the German forces committing crimes against civilians but largely blames these events on the excesses of the SS.[3] He himself admits looting and that shelter in some villages had to be ‘obtained by force’.[4]


Insignia of 3rd Mountain Division (Wehrmacht)

This is an informative memoir. However, there are questions over whether it is the authentic words of Kahr. Andreas Hartinger, Kahr’s grandson, says in the introduction that this book was a ‘literary attempt to analyze the wartime experiences’ of his grandfather.[5] There is nothing to suggest that this is not a genuine account. Reviews in chat rooms have suggested that this is ‘original’.[6] The account makes no outlandish claims and reflects similar themes in other veteran memoirs I have read. Ultimately, it is up to the judgment of the reader.



[1] Andreas Hartinger (ed), Until the Eyes Shut [memoir of Hans Kahr] (Warsaw, Poland: Amazon, 2019), p.15.

[2] Ibid., p.1.

[3] Ibid., p.130.

[4] Ibid., pp.100, 131.

[5] Ibid., p.1.

[6] Accessed 18 December 2020.