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Extra info for Blood Red Snow: The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front
When the enemy discovers him it’s usually too late. The front-line troops have called him the ‘ Nähmaschine’,* because that’s what the engine sounds like. ’ It’s a great show. More flares appear and more strings of pearls follow in the night sky. It’s odd, but we can’t hear anything: it’s like a silent movie. 29 October. A new morning is breaking, and our morale is at zero level. For an hour now a fine drizzle has been coming down, and some of our men are quite outspoken about their dislike for it.
They explode in front of the train on the engine. Then again the mad buzzing noise—and he is gone. Our anti-aircraft fire didn’t manage to get the plane, but there’s not much damage—a couple of splinters hitting various parts of the engine and making some holes in the sides of the wagons. Marzog tells us about it: ‘That was the “Iron Gustav”, a Soviet combat fighter, which Ivan also uses at the front lines. It’s a nimble, low-altitude, close-support plane which appears from nowhere and sprays everything with its automatic cannon.
Our wagon chief, the Obergefreiter, explains: ‘In this part of Russia that’s normal. The pajenkas, the girls, and the mattkas, the mothers or women, are from childhood taught to do what the pan, or man, tells them to do. The men are real layabouts: they decide what’s to be done. Whenever you see them they are always walking alongside the women. Indoors they are usually to be found lying on the clay ovens asleep. ’ In the last few days our Obergefreiter has become more communicative, and in fact he turns out to be quite a decent chap.
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