War of the Rats, written by David L. Robbins, and the movie Stalingrad, directed by Joseph Vilsmaier, are two excellent sources to be used in furthering one’s understanding of the second world war and specifically the battle of Stalingrad. Both of these sources cover generally the same material. They both are dramas about the battle of Stalingrad, yet each has their own unique perspective upon the war. These two sources can be used together to increase one’s knowledge on the subject at hand.
War of the Rats, a book that has been recently published is basically a war inside of a war. It focuses more on a personal battle of two men then it does on the battle of Stalingrad on a whole. The book has four main characters and is mostly based on these people. Robbins seems more content on telling his drama he is revealing to the reader then giving actual historical accounts on the battle of Stalingrad. Robbins story starts out about the Russians skilled assassin, Army Chief Master Sergeant Visily Zaitsev. Zaitsev is a famed sniper, known for killing the opposing Germans with ease. The Germans realize how dangerous of a weapon Zaitsev is, and counter with their own master sniper, S.S. Colonel Heinz Throvald.
Throvald is sent with one mission; kill Zaitsev. Also included in the plot of Robbins’ book are Tania Chernova, Zaitsev’s assistant, and Corporal Nikki Mood, a composite German soldier. Tanis Chernova and Vasily Zaitsev eventually fall in love. The novel eventually ends with the two master snipers, Throvald and Zaitsev, crossing each other’s paths. In somewhat of a cliffhanger, the book finishes off with both Throvald and Zaitsev putting crosshairs on each other’s head. Although it is very entertaining, this is not the book to read to rely on for historical significance. Despite this, this is still a very useful piece of writing for anyone with very little knowledge about the battle of Stalingrad. It provides the reader a background on this crucial war.
The movie Stalingrad, made in 1993, is a very entertaining and educational movie. Told by the point of view of German soldiers, it gives the viewer a vision of the hard times that many soldiers of the battle of Stalingrad had to live through. The director, Joseph Vilsmaier, does a terrific job of keeping the viewer focused. There are no points of boredom in this film. At times very gruesome and detailed, but at the same so real. Not only is it realistic but it is very educational. The director made sure that the viewer learned and felt about the German soldiers who were involved in
this bloody war. At times one could actually feel the pain that these soldiers were experiencing. This movie is based on three German soldiers, Hans Witzland, Manfred “Rollo” Rohleder, and Fritz Reiser. These three men go through horrible psychological pains. They see senseless violence and death, things no human should have to go through. They are under direct orders to neither retreat nor surrender. They find themselves in a no win situation as their army loses scores of men just to capture another street. The three men lose their humanity along the way. Eventually they are just trying to survive although in reality they are already dead. This is a powerful movie that was well designed by Vilsmaier. It takes the viewer right into the trenches with the soldiers. After viewing the movie the viewer becomes much more aware of the hardships that many faced in the battle of Stalingrad.
Both the War of the Rats and Stalingrad are well worth spending one’s time on for entertainment purposes alone. However, as I have mentioned before they also are both very educational. Both are based on factual events. War of the Rats is more about two individual people than the actual war, but still gives a brief overview about the battle of Stalingrad. Stalingrad focuses on the suffering of the German soldiers and probably is
more useful than the War of the Rats in the sense that it covers the actual war more. However, both are highly recommended and go hand in hand. One would probably understand the importance of the Second World War on the Eastern Front in world history most if he or she looked into both sources.
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