At Leningrad's Gates The Combat Memoirs Of A Soldier With Army Group North
The Combat Memoirs of a Soldier with Army Group North
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This is the remarkable story of a German soldier who fought throughout World War II rising from conscript private to captain of a heavy weapons company on the Eastern Front. William Lubbeck age 19 was drafted into the Wehrmacht in August 1939. As a member of the 58th Infantry Division he received his baptism of fire during the 1940 invasion of France. The following spring his division served on the left flank of Army Group North in Operation Barbarossa. After grueling marches admidst countless Russian bodies burnt-out vehicles and a great number of cheering Baltic civilians Lubbeck's unit entered the outskirts of Leningrad making the deepest penetration of any German formation. The Germans suffered brutal hardships the following winter as they fought both Russian counterattacks and the brutal cold. The 58th Division was thrown back and forth across the front of Army Group North from Novgorod to Demyansk at one point fighting back Russian attacks on the ice of Lake Ilmen. Returning to the outskirts of Leningrad the 58th was placed in support of the Spanish "Blue" Division. Relations between the allied formations soured at one point when the Spaniards used a Russian bath house for target practice not realizing that Germans were relaxing inside. A soldier who preferred to be close to the action Lubbeck served as forward observer for his company dueling with Russian snipers partisans and full-scale assaults alike. His worries were not confined to his own safety however as news arrived of disasters in Germany including the destruction of Hamburg where his girlfriend served as an Army nurse. In September 1943 Lubbeck earned the Iron Cross First Class and was assigned to officers' training school in Dresden. By the time he returned to Russia Army Group North was in full-scale retreat. Now commanding his former heavy weapons company Lubbeck alternated sharp counterattacks with inexorable withdrawal from Riga to Memel on the Baltic. In April 1945 Lubbeck's company became stalled in a traffic jam and was nearly obliterated by a Russian barrage followed by air attacks.
- Casemate, November 2006
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