07 June 2018
The Life of Matthaus Hetzenauer
Author: Roland Kaltenegger
Reviewed by: Duncan Evans
This is the story of Matthäus Hetzenauer, the highest scoring German sniper on the Eastern Front, who was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross in 1945. Born into a lowly Tyrolean family in the Alps, Matthäus learnt to hunt and shoot in the mountainous outdoors. When he was called up for duty in the German Army he was naturally selected for the elite Mountain Infantry where he was fast-tracked into sniper training.
He was deployed to the Ukraine with the 3rd Mountain Division and subsequently fought in Romania, Hungary and Slovakia until the end of the war.
There are a number of problems with this book, starting with the lack of information about the man who it’s supposed to be about. In the copious foreword, the explanation is that Matthäus only gave one interview about his sniper days in the ‘60s and most of the information came from that. It means that an awful lot of the book is about his unit or snipers in general, not him. The second is that after the very long foreword there’s a prologue, then translator’s introduction then an utterly tedious introduction then we finally get on with it. It’s disjointed and does not represent a coherent story about the soldier.
Buy your copy directly from Greenhill Books (operating through Pen & Sword) here
• 160 pages • Hardback • £19.99
Sometimes we may include links to online retailers, from which we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Affiliate links do not influence editorial coverage and will only be used when covering relevant products.