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About the Book
Originally written while the author was a prisoner of the United States Army in 1945–46, Black Edelweiss is a boon to serious historians and WWII buffs alike. In a day in which most memoirs are written at half a century's distance, the former will be gratified by the author's precise recall facilitated by the chronologically short-range (a matter of one to seven years) at which the events were captured in writing. Both will appreciate and enjoy the abundantly detailed, exceptionally accurate combat episodes.

Even more than the strictly military narrative, however, the author has given us a searingly candid view into his own mind and soul. As such, Black Edelweiss is much more than a "ripping yarn" or a low-level military history. Black Edelweiss joins not only the growing body of German military memoirs, but the more select, more narrowly-focused group of personal memoirs by other Waffen-SS enlisted men. Beyond the microcosmic view of combat such books relate, to the extent that they are honest and candid, such books are important for what they can reveal about their authors' motivations and reflections on those impulses and their consequences. To date, these works differ significantly.

As it joins the ranks of the books in this genre, Black Edelweiss makes a unique and very important contribution. Black Edelweiss is a personal account of the author's war years, first at school and then with the Waffen-SS, which he joined early in 1943 at the age of seventeen. For a year and a half, the author fought as a machine gunner in SS-Mountain Infantry Regiment 11 "Reinhard Heydrich," mainly in the arctic and sub-arctic reaches of Soviet Karelia and Finland, and later at the Western frontier of the Third Reich. The characters in the story are real, and the conversations and actions are recounted to the best of his ability from the short distance at which he wrote the manuscript in 1945–46.

During his captivity, the author was assigned for a time as a clerk to a US Army Judge Advocate General's Corps officer, and in the performance of his administrative duties, the author had access to the mounting reams of documentation of the Holocaust. His growing recognition of Waffen-SS personnel involved in the monstrous crimes of that process caused him to dig deeply into his soul, to examine his most intimate and private motivations and thoughts, and to confront the most basic assumptions of his life to that point. The author captured this process and the result in the notes which became this book.

Honestly, forthrightly, and courageously told, Black Edelweiss is a precious gift to historians and other students of World War II. It not only starkly adds to the body of literature that attempts to describe and analyze the WWII German soldier’s point of view; it provides a glimpse into the qualities that made the German armed forces a formidable and tenacious foe.

  Black Edelweiss
A Memoir of Combat and Conscience by a Soldier of the Waffen-SS
by Johann Voss
  • 8 Maps
  • 22 photos
  • 224 pages
  • Softcover, 6" x 9" format
  • ISBN 10: 0-9666389-8-0
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-9666389-8-1
$19.95 Retail
+ shipping (see How to Order)

Members of the 45th Infantry Division Association, 157th Infantry Regiment Associations, 70th Infantry Division Association, the Traditionsverband of the 6th SS-Mountain Division and their family members:
$17.50



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