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Greenhill Books- Blood, Dust, and Snow

ISBN Number: 978-178438-8300 Publisher: Greenhill Books
Published: Saturday, April 13, 2024 Retail Price: $37.95
Reviewed By: Michael Reeves

Greenhill Books- Blood, Dust, and Snow

Diaries of a Panzer Commander in Germany and on the Eastern Front

Book Specifics

Author: Friedrich Sander (Edited and translated by Robin Schäfer)

Price: $37.95

ISBN 978-178438-8300

Hardcover, 464 Pages, with more than 150 photographs


What's Inside

If you are like me, you find soldier accounts of battles to be of much more interest to read through than the sometimes highbrow language from some historian, who may not always be able to show the rawness of combat or the passing of breaks between fighting in the correct light. This book does this through diary entries from a tank commander who endured the good and the bad so present on the Eastern Front. Lt. Friedrich Sander was a tank commander in the Wehrmacht 11th Panzer Regiment- which saw action in the Polish campaign, in France and the Low Countries, and as part of Army Group North in the East.

Throughout the book, Sander is commanding a Panzer 35(t) which he lovingly calls his "Skoda Super Sport".  Despite the obsolescence and high attrition rates when facing off against tanks like the Soviet T-34, Sander survived the harsher conflicts during Barbarossa and lived to record these events for us to read now. He was a deeply committed "patriot" who joined the Nazi Party and SS in 1934. The fact that he followed Nazi race theory is evident throughout the book as his entries often show his disparaging views of the Soviet soldiers and civilians he encountered. Later on in the book, as it becomes evident that the war is not going Germany's way, we see these remarks shift to ones of despair and doubt at the scale of German losses and withdrawals. 

We get a good idea of the whirlpool of emotions during the downtime-- the intermittant boredom and chaos, gallows humor, varying degrees of quality of food and equipment, and all that goes with being a soldier at the front. As the book draws to a close and he is recovering from injuries in battle, he reflects on those comrades he has lost and how the bravado that was once so prevalent is giving way to more negative outlooks and emotions. One can't sympathize for long though before Sander spouts off something once again derogatory towards his caregivers or the other Soviets present in the hospital and you feel irritation at this way of thinking.

The end of the book doesn't give the reader too much on what happened to Sander later in the war or after. The last page is part of the diary and ends in an offensive note to the end. We do get some insight from Robin Schäfer in the Introduction that even though we don't know much about his end of the war activities, we know he was taken prisoner by the Americans in 1945 and survived the war. I have not been able to find out too much past that...


I found the book to be of interest as it really gives a good overview of daily life for a tank commander and his crew-- both during combat, and in the respites between. His Nazi idealogy and the racist thoughts he had against the Soviets and others the party looked down on were irritating to read through and as said before, made it difficult to find any real reason to sympathize with him or his comrades. To be fair- that is not what the book sets out to do. The editor recognizes that this is a truly unique opportunity to read this as a source of highly historic interest through the eyes of a tank commander fighting through the most brutal events on the Eastern Front. Taken in that grain, this one is worth a read and the photos offer some truly unique looking armored vehicles as I have tried to include here.

Highly Recommended for those interested in tank combat on the Eastern Front.

Thanks goes out to Casemate PublishingGreenhill Books for this review sample.

Reviewed by Michael Reeves


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