Synopses & Reviews
The monumental battles of World War II's Eastern Front—Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk—are etched into the historical record. But there is another, hidden history of that war that has too often been ignored in official accounts.
Boris Gorbachevsky was a junior officer in the 31st Army who first saw front-line duty as a rifleman in the 30th Army. Through the Maelstrom recounts his three harrowing years on some of the war's grimmest but forgotten battlefields: the campaign for Rzhev, the bloody struggle to retake Belorussia, and the bitter final fighting in East Prussia. As he traces his experiences from his initial training, through the maelstrom, to final victory, he provides one of the richest and most detailed memoirs of life and warfare on the Eastern Front.
Gorbachevsky's panoramic account takes us from infantry specialist school to the front lines to rear services areas and his whirlwind romances in wartime Moscow. He recalls the shriek of Katiusha rockets flying overhead toward the enemy and the unforgettable howl of Stukas divebombing Soviet tanks. And he conveys horrors of brutal fighting not recorded previously in English, including his own participation in a human wave assault that decimated his regiment at Rzhev, with piles of corpses growing the closer they got to the German trenches.
Gorbachevsky also records the sufferings of the starving citizens of Leningrad, the savage execution of a Russian scout who turned in false information, the killing of an innocent German trying to welcome the Soviet troops, and a chilling campfire discussion by four Russian soldiers as they compared notes about the women they'd raped. His memoir brims with rich descriptions of daily army life, the challenges of maintaining morale, and relationships between soldiers. It also includes candid exposés of the many problems the Red Army faced: the influence of political officers, the stubbornness of senior commanders, the attrition through desertions, and the initial months of occupation in postwar Germany.
Through the Maelstrom features the swiftly moving narrative and rich dialogue associated with the grand style of great Russian literature. Ultimately, it provides a fitting and final testament to soldiers who fought and died in anonymity.
A junior officer in the Red Army provides one of the richest and most detailed memoirs of life and warfare on the Eastern Front, from his combat training in early 1942 until the surrender and occupation of Germany.
Table of Contents
Part One: My Initial Military Education, January-May 1942
1. Students and Commanders: January-March 1942
2. Graduation: April -May 1942
3 Notes on My Way to the Front: May 1942
Part Two: The Rzhev Meat Grinder: June 1942 to March 1943
4. Bivouac: June 1942
5. How I Searched for the Truth, and What Became of It: June-July 1942
6. In a Rifle Company: July-August 1942
7. The First Battle: 24 August 1942
8> The 259th Medical-Sanitation Battalion: August-September 1942
9. A Rainy Autumn: October-November 1942
10. Turncoats: November-December 1942
11. A New Appointment: 30-31 December 1942
12. I Become the Regimental Youth Leader: January 1943
13. Operation "Hunt": February 1943
Part Three: From Rzhev to the National Border: March 1943-July 1944
14. On the Heels of the Enemy: March 1943
15. Moscow: April 1943
16. The Liberation of Smolensk: April-September 1943
17. The Fighting for Orsha: October 1943-May 1944
18. Forward—to the West! June-July 1944
Part Four: In Poland and East Prussia: July 1944-April 1945
19. "The Untouchables": July-December 1944
20. In Poland: January 1945
21. In East Prussia: January-February 1945
22. To the Shores of the Baltic: March-April 1945
23. The Final Steps to Victory: April 1945
24. The Last Days of the War: May 1945
25. Subjugated Germany—"Guten Tag, Lower Silesia!" May-August 1945
Afterword: Reflections on Fighting for Rzhev