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Literature / Fighting in Hell

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The definitive guide to why you should not start a land war in Asia.

Compiled by Peter Tsouras, this is a collection of writings by German generals gathered at the request of the US Army and now made public. During the fifties, intelligence needed information to brief officers on the presumed next enemy. And so they went to the experts on the Russians: the Germans. The works thus resulting were published by the army without comment or correction and no more than the Not Safe for Work warning needed because of the various writers' earlier employer.


The work describes the conditions of the Eastern Front and the techniques of the rival powers in great detail. Despite its flashy sounding name, it is a staff volume, not a popular history, and written in an encyclopedic manner. A good source for someone interested in the subject.

  • Big Book of War
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Finns, Russians, and Germans are each in their own way Badass armies.
  • Crapsack World: You probably figured that out.
  • Deathworld : In other places death is a part of the world. In Russia world is a part of death.
  • Decontamination Chamber: Aside from the obvious need to keep soldiers warm, field saunas were used as this. They were a reasonably efficient way to simply cook lice to death.
  • Dirty Communists: Interestingly, these are complimented for making Russia more militarily efficient than the Czarists did.
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  • Easy Logistics: Inverted. Logistics in Russia were absolutely not easy.
  • Enemy Mine: The reason the works were written
  • Everything Is Trying to Kill You: What did we nice German boys ever do?
  • Four-Star Badass: Gehard Raus, one of the primary writers.
  • Grim Up North
  • Had To Be Sharp: Pretty much everyone. Forget victory. Surviving this makes you a badass.
  • Hostile Weather: You think?
  • Kill It with Fire: Russians liked to light forest fires behind the German lines to interdict traffic and make life miserable for the folk in back.
  • Kill It with Ice
  • La Résistance: Partisans
  • The Lost Woods: All over Russia. Not only did partisans hide in them but main forces could assemble unexpectedly before rushing the German lines.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: Germans are more mechanically minded and skilled at large scale maneuver and were the ultimate blitzkriegers. To be honest the provincialism of Germans was remarkable and they are seldom called on it. Too many military writers seem to assume that Central Europe was the norm and places where nature does not do what it is told to are treated as strange. The Germans amazingly didn't even do research on Eastern European warfare before then, as if assuming that all wars would be with Austria or France. Despite all that the Germans managed to adapt fairly well to Russia. Russians couldn't usually maneuver with the virtuousity of Germans (nobody could really) and were plagued a lot more by Obstructive Bureaucrats than the Germans were. However they had a lot of advantages. Russians depended a lot on reserves as the stereotype indicates. And on the sheer toughness of their soldiers. But they also depended a lot on their remarkable wilderness talents. They were skilled at deception and guerrilla warfare and made up for their lack of sophistication by German standards with their ingenuity and improvisation. Finns had neither the firepower of the Germans nor the mass of the Russians. But they were even more wilderness savvy than the Russians and definitely more than the Germans and had an environment that was even more unpleasant to campaign in than Russia.
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  • Moral Myopia: The writers are shocked, absolutely shocked, that Russians should have no respect for human life.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: And how.
  • Mugging the Monster: Russia does not take kindly to being invaded.
  • Snow Means Death: Of course in Russia everything means death. You do realize how we keep repeating words regarding "death?"
  • Swamps Are Evil: The Pripet Marshes
  • Unreliable Narrator
  • Villainous Valor
  • War Is Hell: Invoked in the title.
  • Weather of War: Russia's General Winter as expected. But also taking pride of place is Colonel Slush. During springtime all the packed snow floods out over the steppes and in fall rains come pouring down making Russia one big swamp. This was even worse in some ways; you can actually campaign in winter because the roads are hardened. You certainly can't do that when they are flooded. In summer it is scorching and desert like. Russia was a Deathworld even before you start making the inhabitants mad at you.
  • We Have Reserves: The Russians again

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