Captured by the Soviets after the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943, Heinrich Gerlach wrote a novel based on his experiences. In 1949, however, the KGB confiscated his 600-page manuscript. Gerlach returned to Germany in 1950, and, under hypnosis, recalled parts of his narrative. In 1957, it was published under the title The Forsaken Army and became a bestseller.
In 2011 Carsten Gansel, an academic, made a sensational find in a Moscow archive: the original manuscript of Gerlach’s novel. Breakthrough at Stalingrad differs sharply in tone from the novel published in 1957. Here, a coruscating emphasis on German war crimes and the author’s feelings of guilt form a descant to his narrative of the battle and reflections on the pointlessness of war.
Breakthrough at Stalingrad includes an appendix by Carsten Gansel, telling the story behind both the 1957 edition of the novel and discovery of its original version. After 70 years, a classic of 20th-century war literature can be enjoyed in its original version.