Book Review – Gunter Koschorrek, Blood Red Snow (Barnsley: Frontline, 2018)

This book is the diary turned memoir of Gunter Koschorrek who served on the Eastern Front during the Second World War. From October 1942 until August 1944, he served in the 1st Battalion, 21st Panzergrenadier Regiment, 24 Panzer Division, seeing action at Stalingrad, the Nikopol Bridgehead and in Romania. After that, he served with a training unit before being posted to the Grossdeutschland Division. He was wounded six times.

Korschorrek dedicated his book ‘to be a tribute to the countless anonymous soldiers who spent most of their war in filthy foxholes in the Russian soil’.[1] It appears that the account is a combination of memoir and diary. He kept a diary, wrote up events when on leave and put notes on scraps of paper that he put into a slit in his coat lining and he drew these elements together sometime in the 1980s or 1990s.[2]

Insignia of 24th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht), 1941-42

As a narrative, it is visceral, frank and is better written than many similar Wehrmacht veteran accounts. Koschorrek describes how he went from a gung-ho recruit eager for the battle to a cynical jaded veteran fighting for survival.[3] He also outlines the brutality of the front; he recalls an NCO named Schwarz shooting Russian wounded to prevent them from shooting advancing German soldiers.[4] He hoped he would never behave like Schwarz but his attitude changes when a wounded Russian shoots a ‘beloved’ officer and is subsequently killed, Koschorrek is ‘not so much concerned’. He prays to God to ‘prevent my anger developing into such an intense hatred that I will ever become like Schwarz’.[5] He is motivated to fight and endure by a sense of duty, his comrades and the example of leaders.[6]

However, there are some aspects which are questionable. Korochorrek makes only a fleeting reference to German War crimes committed by the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front; he suggests that both sides killed POWs and that Germans did some looting. Also, one reviewer has suggested that the account may be suspect in certain areas, especially about the veracity of Koschorrek’s recollections of witnessing the aftermath of the October 1944 Soviet massacre in the East Prussian town of Nemmersdorf.[7]



[1] Gunter Koschorrek, Blood Red Snow (Barnsley: Frontline, 2018), p.10.

[2] Ibid., pp.9-15.

[3] Ibid., pp.40-41. 98-99.

[4] Ibid., p.69.

[5] Ibid., p.152.

[6] Ibid., pp.305, 116, 248.

[7] Roberto Muehlenkamp’s Reviews  Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front. Accessed 28 December 2020.