Book Review – Rudi Stiebritz, Pawn of War (Harnwell, Vic/Australia: Temple House, 2001)

Pawn of War is Rudi Stiebritz’s account of his service in the Wehrmacht serving on the Eastern Front in the Second World War and his captivity as a Soviet POW in the four years after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Stiebritz serviced predominantly with the 125th Infantry Division where he was a pioneer in the 2nd Company of the Pioneer Battalion. He was drafted in April 1942 and saw action to the end of the war.

He was a reluctant soldier having been warned by his father and brother about what to expect and he tried to keep his head down and not draw attention to himself.[1][2][3]

Stiebritz claims that he had an affinity with the Russian people having been a Cossack in a previous incarnation.[4] He also claimed that a ten-metre tall apparition promised to protect him through his military service and he believed it did.[5][6][7]

At the end of the war, Stiebritz was interned in the Soviet Union as a prisoner only released in 1949.

In 1956, Stiebritz emigrated to Australia where he worked as an engineer.[8] Seven years later he was involved in a car accident that left him nearly blind.[9] In the mid-1990s while on a Buddhist retreat he started to write his memoirs which he published with the help of friend Jack McKee.[10][11]

Overall, this narrative does not stand out and has many commonalities with other memoirs.

[1] Rudi Stiebritz, Pawn of War (Harnwell, Vic/Australia: Temple House, 2001), p.11.

[2] Ibid., p.11.

[3] Ibid., p.18.

[4] Ibid., p.20.

[5] Ibid., pp.74-75.

[6] Ibid., p.85.

[7] Ibid., p.101.

[8] Ibid., p.2

[9] Ibid., p.3.

[10] Ibid., p.2.

[11] Ibid., p.3.