While World War II is one of the most discussed events in world history, most accounts center on the Western front, especially those battles between Germany and the United States and its allies. In "Demyansk: More Tales from the Russian Wilderness, 1941-45" Russ Schneider uses the Eastern campaign as the backdrop for his historical fiction.
While most Western historians are familiar with the battles of Stalingrad and Moscow, Schneider features some of the lesser-known battles taking place at the same time. These battles include Cherkassy, Babi Yar, Byelorussia and Demyansk, the title story.
The German invasion of Russia in June 1941 began one of the most savage conflicts in human history. Western readers are familiar with the name of Stalingrad, but few know the names of other battles of equally Homeric proportions--Demyansk, Cherkassy, the Kuban Bridgehead, the Volkhov River. Schneider confronts the mystery of the Russian Front in fiction so close to historical detail that even the most ardent student of the time will be satisfied.
The title story is a novel-length account of the battle for Demyansk, a year-long struggle that began at the same time as the battle for Moscow and was still being fought after the fall of Stalingrad. The 5th Jaeger Division and the SS Totenkopf Division were among the 100,000 men trapped in the "Demyansk cauldron." The story focuses on the ordeals of these two units during a year of desperate fighting in the swamps of the Lovat delta.
"Drawing from the epic clash between Nazism and Stalinism, the author masterfully weaves history and fiction to create a nightmarish vision of 'cauldron' warfare--tiny pockets where encircled Germans hold out against the Red Army. In the midst of the blood, mud and terror, the book's characters confront the chaos of war with only the slightest grip on their sanity. Broader themes of duty and vengeance seep to the surface. Darkly entrancing tales whose pages bleed struggle, trauma and madness," writes Kirkus Indie Review.
Russ Schneider spent many years studying the Russo-German conflict. The fictionalized first-person accounts are based on facts from German unit histories, letters and diaries. They illustrate the horror experienced by Nazi soldiers as they entered bitter combat in a dark, unknown country. Schneider presents accounts of the Waffen SS, German Wiking units, Soviet women tankers, SS Eitsatzgruppen and other combatants.
While interest in WWII has always been keen, the comparative lack of material on the Russian Front and the growing appreciation among historians of the overall importance of the Russo-German conflict in WWII makes this collection of stories especially important and unique.
Russ Schneider received a master's in creative writing from the University of Florida. He studied the Russo-German war for years before writing his books. Well known for his attention to historical detail, Schneider has a faithful readership founded on the books in his Eastern Front series: "Siege: A Novel of the Eastern Front 1942," "Madness Without End: Tales of Horror from the Russian Wilderness" and "Gotterdammerung 1945: Germany's Last Stand in the East." His publishing company, Neue Paradies Verlag operated through his death in 2000. In his spare time, Schneider was an accomplished pianist and author, who wrote many works while living near Gainesville, Fla.
"Demyansk: More Tales from the Russian Wilderness, 1941-45" is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.