Sniper Ace: From the Eastern Front to Siberia, Bruno Sutkus

Sniper Ace: From the Eastern Front to Siberia, Bruno Sutkus

Bruno Sutkus was one of the most successful German snipers on the Eastern Front, with 207 recorded kills to his name. This autobiography, party based on his sniper log, tells his story during and after the Second World War. At the end of the war Sutkus fell into Soviet hands, and after a short period of relative freedom in and around Lithuania was forced into exile in Siberia.

The first part of the book, looking at Sutkus's career as a German sniper, is quite dry. It is based on his wartime sniper diary, and after a brief introduction turns into a very matter-of fact blow-by-blow account of his successes. What we do get from this section of the book is just how lucky Sutkus was to survive the war after spending so much time in front of the front line (something he repeatedly acknowledges). Sutkus's views on what makes a successful sniper are also scattered through this section.

The second half of the book, which covers Sutkus's period in captivity and exile in the Soviet Union, is more interesting that the first. After a dangerous period in Lithuania and East Prussia, where if recognised as a famous sniper Sutkus would probably have been executed, he was banished to Siberia, remaining there until 1971! Even after he was allowed to leave Siberia Sutkus was still not allowed to leave the Soviet Union, and only the fall of Communism finally allowed him to return to Germany.

This part of the book provides a rare window into the gulag archipelago, Stalin's vast expansion of the system of exile in Siberia that the Soviet Union inherited from the Tsars. Hardly surprisingly given his experiences Sutkus still tended to believe German wartime propaganda about Soviet atrocities (like many German soldiers at the end of the war he was still convinced that the western allies would should have joined with the Germans to resist the Red Army).

This is a very useful book that provides us with a rare view into two very different worlds

Part One
1: Childhood in East Prussia
2: I Become a Soldier
3: My First Fifty-Two Successes as a Sniper
4: A Grim Vision of What to Expect: My Tally Rises to 130 Victims
5: Jastrzebiec, My Last Battlefield: Ninety-Eight More Victims
German Publisher's Note

Part Two
1: The End of the War: Escaping the Firing Squad
2: Helping the Lithuanian Resistance
3: Banished to Siberia
4: Labouring to Atone
5: Removal to Rudovka, April 1950
6: A Soviet Piggery: I am Recognised as a German Sniper
7: Soviet Bureaucracy in Action
8: Down the Pit: Sherenkov 1957-1971
9: I Keep Agitating for my Exit Visa
10: Released from Banishment but not the Soviet Empire
11: My German Nationality Restored

Author: Bruno Sutkus
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 179
Publisher: Frontline
Year: 2009

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