Book Review – Georg Grossjohann, Five Years, Four Fronts (New York/USA: Ballentine, 1999)

Five Years, Four Fronts is Georg Grossjohann’s memoir that covers his service in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.


Grossjohann served with the 21st Infantry Division in Poland, 161st Division during the invasion of France, the 332nd Division during the time between the end of the French campaign and start of Operation Barbarossa and, finally, with the 198th Division in the Soviet Union and southern France.[1]


His account is interesting as he was a career soldier having joined the Reichswehr in 1928. He also makes some interesting observations on leadership.[2] [3] 


Symbol of the 198th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)

However, this account follows the pretty standard pattern set by many German post war recollections in being a chronological narrative focusing on combat actions and postings. The issue of the holocaust and Wehrmacht war crimes are glossed over or avoided. For instance, while Grossjohann wrote that the treatment of many Russians prisoners of war (POWs) faced was ‘shocking and unspeakably depressing’, it was not the Army Group’s fault as they ‘simply lacked the equipment to transport the P[O]Ws quickly to better facilities’.[4]


For those with a knowledge of the Wehrmacht and the Eastern Front, this account tells little new but it does serve as a good introduction for the novice as the historical commentary by Theodore C. Mataxis is thorough and detailed.



[1] Georg Grossjohann, Five Years, Four Fronts (New York/USA: Ballentine, 1999), pp.15, 16, 39.

[2] Ibid., p.xxvi.

[3] Ibid., pp.55-56.

[4] Ibid., p.55.