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The Last Panther

Slaughter of the Reich - The Halbe Kessel 1945
Narrated by: George Backman
Length: 5 hrs and 15 mins
Categories: History, Military
4.5 out of 5 stars (81 ratings)

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Summary

While the Battle of Berlin in 1945 is widely known, the horrific story of the Halbe Kessel remains largely untold. In April 1945, victorious Soviet forces encircled 80,000 men of the German 9th Army in the Halbe area, South of Berlin, together with many thousands of German women and children. The German troops, desperate to avoid Soviet capture, battled furiously to break out toward the West, where they could surrender to the comparative safety of the Americans. For the German civilians trapped in the Kessel, the quest to escape took on frantic dimensions, as the terror of Red Army brutality spread.

The small town of Halbe became the eye of the hurricane for the breakout, as King Tigers of the SS Panzer Corps led the spearhead to the West, supported by Panthers of the battle-hardened 21st Panzer Division. Panzer by panzer, unit by unit, the breakout forces were cut down - until only a handful of Panthers, other armour, battered infantry units and columns of shattered refugees made a final escape through the rings of fire to the American lines. This first-hand account by the commander of one of those Panther tanks relates with devastating clarity the conditions inside the Kessel, the ferocity of the breakout attempt through Halbe, and the subsequent running battles between overwhelming Soviet forces and the exhausted Reich troops, who were using their last reserves of fuel, ammunition, strength and hope.

Eloquent German-perspective accounts of World War 2 are surprisingly rare, and the recent reissue of Wolfgang Faust's 1948 memoir Tiger Tracks has fascinated readers around the world with its insight into the Eastern Front. In The Last Panther, Faust used his unique knowledge of tank warfare to describe the final collapse of the Third Reich and the murderous combat between the German and Russian armies. He gives us a shocking testament to the cataclysmic final hours of the Reich, and the horrors of this last eruption of violence among the idyllic forests and meadows of Germany.

©2015 The Estate of Wolfgang Faust; Bayern Classic Publications (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

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Insight of the desperate last days of the Nazis

Amazing insight of human interaction when death and uncertainty exist. I like tanks but never realised what it was like to actually live and fight in one

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An excellent book!

An incredible depiction of the final days of the Eastern Front, which was now in the heart of Germany. I do feel that the author wound into the fabric of this depiction, several other persons experiences but this actually adds to weight of this often unspoken perspective of WW2. I highly recommend this audio book.

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Thin line of hope.

An Excellent book,read by an Excellent narrator, with an Excellent story line. Check it out and see. Just listen and enjoy. " The Last Panther "

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This is the uncensored version of the brutality of war

This book is the second book by the author Wolfgang Faust, this name is a pseudonym so there is parts of the book I find a little hard to believe but when looking up this book I found out the original manuscript was written just after the war 47-48. Even if some parts are dramatised this is a book that tells the true brutality of the fighting on the eastern front, not like other books that describe battles in a sanitised manor. For those who enjoy world war 2 books then this book describes a massive battle mainly forgotten by today’s historians, the battle of the halbe pocket when a mixture of the German 9th army SS battalions and German civilians trying to escape the oncoming Red Army were surrounded in the Forrest’s around a town called halbe. The details are brutal but war is brutal. Great book

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An excellent account of life on the frontline

A gripping account of one young German tank commander's view of the chaos of the collapse of the Third Reich.It makes for tragic but compulsive listening.Aside from that it gives a great idea of the practicalities of operating a Panther and how deadly Russian armour was at the end of the war.A great listen.

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Powerful WW2 Tank Warfare

Factual, horrific portrayal of the last days of Nazi Germany. Gripping storyline and details of tank combat. Violence and mass slaughter are frequently depicted, reflecting the desperate days of civilians, as well as military personnel in Germany in the last days.

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Shocking period history

Fascinating listen and you have to think it's about right. A slaughter from the east

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Stunning!

If you know your history from this part of the WW2, then it's a must read.

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Good Entertainment

This is an entertaining book, if your wanting 100% history this isn't for you, probably 70% fiction.

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from the German side

Great book and story from a German prospective of the last few weeks of the 2nd world war's forgotten battle.

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  • Thomas
  • 14-09-18

Fiction

Know that this is a fake memoir, and not the firsthand account it claims to be. It’s a compelling piece of fiction, but should not presented as reality.

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  • Erik
  • 25-05-16

Fake Memoir - Literary Fraud - Violent War Porn

What would have made The Last Panther better?

If this book never existed.

Would you ever listen to anything by Wolfgang Faust again?

Wolfgang Faust is not a real person.

Any additional comments?

In the same vein as "Tiger Tracks," "The Last Panther" is a fake story being advertised as a memoir. These two books by "Faust" are fake memoirs and are literary fraud. The fantastic, outlandish fiction tales told in these books dishonor the real veterans who experienced the horrors of tank warfare, who suffered and lost comrades during the War, diminishes their real and important stories and clouds historical fact. Shame on Amazon and Audible for not vetting and fact checking the authenticity of this "Wolfgang Faust," these two books and of Sprech Media as a whole.

Wolfgang Faust is a fake name, probably for an American/English writer who wrote this story within the last few years. There's no mention of Wolfgang Faust anywhere ON THE ENTIRE INTERNET (except for what's been released directly from Sprech Media and/or Amazon). I can't find any documentation in any form as to the existence of this person. No pictures of the man. No information on his estate or where it is located. No specific details as to when he died or the location for where he is buried.

"Faust" allegedly published "Tiger Tracks" in the late 1940s and wrote shortly thereafter "The Last Panther" and never published it due to the heavy criticism he received for "Tiger Tracks." Where is the original "Tiger Tracks" book? What's its ISBN? The "Tiger Tracks" story was "serialised in a number of magazines?" Which magazines? When? Where are they??? Critics in the Federal German Republic described the original release of "Tiger Tracks" as needlessly provocative? What critics? Where's their reviews and criticisms? The fact is that "Tiger Tracks" is a fake memoir and there was no original book.

With that out of the way, let me speak to the specifics in "The Last Panther," supposedly written but never published until recently, and is another groundbreaking memoir from a panzer crewman.

Having supposedly been "stung" by the public’s reception of "Tiger Tracks,” "Faust" wrote "The Last Panther" and never published it. One would think the author's tone would change after being hurt so, that descriptions of battles would be different, that this harsh criticism would seep through his writings in some way, that he'd try to prove the importance of this next story by writing in a slightly different style, but that isn't apparent at all in this book. The writing and the amazingly descriptive recollections are written in exactly the same manner as “Tiger Tracks.”

Unlike "Tiger Tracks," "Faust" actually has a rank (Feldwebel), reports his general location (Halbe), states his unit (the 21st Panzer Division) and give details of some of the neighboring units. They're fighting to get out of the Halbe Kessel, to get to the Twelfth Army, cross the Elbe and surrender to the Americans. The story reads like an action movie script. The story itself is okay - there are no more than two characters and, now that I think about it, I believe that "Faust" is the only person in the entire book referred to by name. If that's true, that makes the book even more bizarre. Even in "Tiger Tracks," “Faust” referred to his crew members by name. The book isn't even enjoyable if you consider this work as a fiction novel, because nothing of consequence happens. If you read this book expecting it to be a memoir (as it is advertised), even an amateur historian, you'll soon figure out that it's unbelievable and ridiculous and begin to question its authenticity (I'll go more into that later).

As an action story, the plot is a bland, repetitive trek with lots and lots of descriptive gore. There's no characters, there's no real plot (other than to escape out of the Halbe pocket), and there's no theme, unless you want to consider "war is a lot of gratuitous violence" as some sort of deep, insightful narrative theme. Here's the plot: move, fight, describe some horrific gory scene, repeat 6 or 7 times, cross Elbe, fin. Sorry for the spoiler.

The story contains a lot of gore described in detail and in the same manner over and over again - starbursts from exploding tanks, wheels and turrets flying meters into the air, decapitated and dismembered infantry, burning tank crews, people dying gruesome deaths covered in burning fuel, gurgling breath escaping from a person hanging from a noose, etc... It's all much too descriptive for a memoir. I've never read a memoir in which the author is so enthusiastic to describe gore with such detail.

Let me summarize some of the items that "Faust" writes about that bring into question the authenticity of this book:

- Tank crews did not wear hobnail boots. Hobnails on tank steel is not only very slippery (making climbing and moving a dangerous activity), but hobnails have the nasty little tendency to spark on steel. Sparks in a tank = fire = death.
- “Faust” refers to his commander as “Capo.” That nickname struck me as an oddity. I’m not fluent in German, but I can manage reading and speaking it well enough. “Kapo” was a term used within the Concentration Camps to refer to a prisoner who served as an overseer. So, when listening to this book, I figured, okay, they call their (nameless) LT the Overseer. But when I started writing this review and looked at the printed book, I noticed the nickname is spelled “Capo.” I cannot find reference to that term or its usage anywhere in the German language. I have no idea what it is supposed to stand for. In the German language, the letter “C” is a rare letter. I might be completely off on this point, but this nickname is suspicious and another point of concern with the authenticity of this book.
- The Iron Cross was not worn around the neck. The Knight's Cross (a high award) was worn around the neck. Faust says he takes the “Iron Cross” from his dead “Capo’s” neck. The differentiation between the awards would not have been confused by any German at the time, let alone by a member of the Heer.
- Faust doesn't mention any of his tank crew by name. He doesn't describe them. He doesn't talk about them in any detail whatsoever, other than describing their gruesome deaths. He doesn't describe his intimate service with them, as I would expect from any tank crewman's memoir. Life in a tank is a life in close-quarters. You would expect a fraternal relationship to develop among the crew, but that is not evident at all in this book.
- Except for one instance in which "Faust" reveals that he once drove a tank, recollections of previous battle or war experiences are completely absent. The author of every other memoir I've read recollects his past experiences in the War and the people he has served with.
- Just as in "Tiger Tracks," "Faust" somehow has the omnipotent ability to see inside the tanks around him during combat (in which he should be buttoned up within his own tank), describing in detail ricocheting rounds, painful and ghastly deaths.
- "Faust's" Panther is constantly on the verge of running out of fuel, but miraculously keeps finding more and more fuel along the way. I don't know exactly what route he took, but from historical maps of the breakout attempts, it looks like the shortest distance from the edge of the Halbe to the Elbe through the Twelfth Army is more than 120 km (almost 80 miles) - that's in a straight line.
- "Faust" describes everything with way too much technical detail. It's as if he were in on the design decisions of each and every tank he comes across, pausing in the middle of the description of some battle to talk about what chassis a Jagdpanzer is built on or how heavy a Hetzer is and pondering on how useful 3,000 or 4,000 of them would have been to the Reich. In my experience, this isn't what a German veteran would muse on. He wouldn't call an MP40 an MP40 - it'd just be, "MP." The Soviets weren't called "Reds" by the Germans. He seemed to know every aircraft that buzzed them, and could describe in detail the type of artillery bombarding them. It's all too detailed for war memoir, in my humble opinion.
- The tone of this "memoir" is not of a German veteran writing it in the 1940s. The verbiage is much too modern and contemporary. The writing does not sound like a German translation at all.

I've read similar criticisms of the authenticity of Sprech Media's other books (e.g. "D Day Through German Eyes" and "World War 2 Through German Eyes").

I think I've made my point. I don't know for 100% certain, but it seems to me that "The Last Panther" is a fake memoir and is literary fraud. Spend your credit elsewhere. If you are interested in this kind of book, but want a real memoir, I'd highly recommend both "Panzer Commander" by Hans von Luck and "Soldat" by Siegfried Knappe.

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  • James Beshero
  • 01-05-19

Blatant anti soviet/nazi wank fest

Wolfgang Foust didn’t exist
The publishers source magazine for this didn’t exist

Throughout the story several tropes from neo-nazi circles are perpetuated. Avoid.

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  • Amazon Shopper
  • 05-08-17

Fictional account implicitly marketed as fact

Not worth a credit or hard cash. This is a fictional story. It's not a memoir of a panther veteran. There was no Wolfgang Faust. Google this book title or the "author" and you'll get all the inglorious details. It would have been okay if it was marketed for what it is - a work of fiction. I feel ripped off.

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  • Keaton
  • 27-09-17

Not Tiger Tracks, but still a terrific ride!

Much like its predecessor, once the action starts, it barely comes up from air. Out of the cauldron and into the fire, you will fly through this book. Narration is great and while I didn't think the battle scenes and story were as good as Tiger Tracks, it was still excellent. If you haven't read Tiger Tracks though, I would recommend starting there first.

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  • Brooklyn
  • 16-05-20

Excellent 10/10

I loved both books by the author. The performance by the reader is excellent. I would highly recommend both books

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-05-20

Good Story, Regardless of Fact or Fiction

Looking at other reviews of this title before listening, I was skeptical of the accuracy or whether the claims of it being 'Pro-Nazi propaganda' were warranted. I have heard of a lot of 'memoirs' written by German Veterans and Generals being seen as whitewashing of history, or vindication of their own actions, knowing this, I went into this title with a massive grain of salt.

Needless to say -and maybe I am naive, I didn't find a single part of this story -be it a memoir or a work of historical fiction, to be anything resembling 'Pro-Nazi' message or vindication of the Nazi cause. Instead what i found was a heartbreaking;y tragic story of a desperate young man, entering hell and coming out the other side -his hands dirty, his mind warped, body broken.

Whether it is a true memoir or not is inconsequential as far as I am concerned, as to me it is a well paced, nuanced tale of just how horrific war can be. The fact is this: the Battle of Halbe Pocket, the 9th Army did break out to reach a corridor held by the 12th Army, and the crossing of the Elbe to surrender to the Americans were all true events. I don't know whether 'Wolfgang Faust existed or not, and I don't really care. To me he represents everyone of those poor souls trapped, desperate for something resembling hope.

In the story there are heroes (the Soldiers fighting to protect civilians), villains (smug Waffen SS men only looking out for themselves), traitors (the German Seydlitz Men helping the Soviets), cowards (German Soldiers refusing to fight and hiding among the Civilians), and innocents (the women and children caught in the crossfire). And no side of the conflict or political perspective is spared or given vindication...In fact -for all those accusing this boo of being 'pro-Nazi' I would say there is surprisingly little political references. The few references to the Nazis do not paint them in a flattering light,portraying the SS as smug, arrogant,self serving -and willing to murder anyone who gets in the way of their escape westward. Several times the narrator 'Faust' makes references to the Nazi atrocities on the Eastern Front, and even empathizes with the vengeful Soviets.

To me it seems that the reason why so many accuse this book of being 'Pro-Nazi' is because of the simple fact that it portrays a German Soldier as the protagonist, despite the fact that he does not openly admonish Hitler or the Nazis. It seems today that in order for us to have a 'good German' they must first disavow Nazism and actively oppose the regime in order to be seen as somewhat redeemable. But this character 'Faust' doesn't really bother with that -as he is too busy trying to survive the brutal, savage melee to worry about whether he's fighting for the goodies or the baddies. And that's probably what was going through most German's heads at the time.

Some people take issue with the fact that 'Faust' doesn't name any of his Panzer crewmen or the fact that his Platoon Leader's 'Iron Cross' is inaccurate. While the latter part is true -as only a Knights Cross of the Iron Cross was worn around the neck, it is never explicitly stated that 'the Iron Cross around his neck isn't a Knights Cross. Thus, how sure are you that Faust wasn't referring to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross in an abbreviated way, simply for brevity. The same thing with his crewmen -its easier for a reader or listener to understand, "I told my gunner to..." or "my driver looked at me with horror" as opposed to "I told Schmidt to..." or "Fredrik looked at me with horror..."

All in all I found the story sobering, especially in the end...Not going to spoil it.

I've always wanted to read about the Battle of Halbe, and whether this is fact or fiction, this book gave me the picture I had long sought out, and I feel as if I am a better, more informed person for reading it.

If you are looking for Pro-Nazi war porn, look somewhere else, and perhaps read something like 'The Devil's Guard' an actual Pro-Nazi work of fiction about Waffen SS men who fight in Vietnam for the French Foreign Legion. Upon reading the first few pages of that book, I had to put it down -as it portrayed the SS as super-soldiers, who the French stand in awe of. Soviets and Vietminh guerrillas are shown as bloodthirsty savages -with about as much subtly as neon light saying 'bad guy'. The book even advocates taking enemy civilians hostage.

This book, I repeat, this book -despite claims of the contrary, is not that.

And if you doubt me, read it (or listen) for yourself.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 24-11-19

Real Fighting

It is very hard for Americans to imagine fighting without limits by either side. Very violent with no quarter given by either side,

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  • Jimbob from Texas
  • 11-06-19

Interesting First Person Narrative

Enjoyed hearing the experiences of a German tank commander and his challenges with refugees and Russian armor while trying to get to the Western front.

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  • BunnyDee
  • 31-05-19

A Page Turner

Faust’s account of fleeing the red army is captivating from the first page to the last. I am amazed at how he recalled in great detail every engagement in which he was involved during the escape from the kessel.