Until the Eyes Shut: Memories of a machine gunner on the Eastern Front, 1943-45

Until the Eyes Shut: Memories of a machine gunner on the Eastern Front, 1943-45


, History, War

The veteran tells his grandson about his World War II experiences, without pathos, but with gripping, brutal honesty.

What awaits the reader:

“Deeply shocked and heartbroken, we continued on our way back. I had had enough. Enough of the killing. Enough of the dying. In the eyes of the Alsatian I saw a question I was also asking myself. When would this terrible war come to an end, the cannons fall silent, the armories shut down? When would we finally be able to return to life instead of crawling, slaying, and destroying?”

“He lived through the whole day and finally died the following night. During this time, he kept calling for help. Just before he died, he thought he saw his mother and calmed down a bit. I rested my hand on his shoulder. I did not want him to die alone. He finally left our world with his eyes wide open and his hands pressed over his intestines.”

“My baptism of fire was the most incisive event of my life. Nothing was ever going to be the same. My youthful carefreeness had vanished under the impact of dread and orchestrated mass destruction.”


The rulers’ mistakes are paid for with the blood of the people. This is shown in history both recent and ancient, time and time again. It was no different for an Austrian mountain farmer’s son who was thrown into the carnage of the Eastern Front. He was in the prime of his youth, and the German Reich was already close to losing the war.

In ripe old age, he remembers those dark hours that have haunted him throughout his life. Manning his machine gun in merciless struggles with a superior enemy, or fighting for survival in brutal close combat, reduced to basest instincts. He also remembers the rock-solid comradeship with his mountain troop, the unexpected gestures of humanity, and an insane destructiveness at a time when the world was out of joint.

This ruthless, honest, and touching real-life account of a simple frontline soldier serves as a reminder to stand up for peace at all times, and to despise war. Until the eyes shut …

About the author

Andreas Hartinger had a profound interest in contemporary history from a young age. During his professional assignments in various crises around the world, he has seen with his own eyes how war takes humanity hostage. He and his grandfather Hans Kahr wrote down the elder’s war memories together. It was painstaking work and it involved innumerable unsettling conversations. What started off as a family project is now available for the world to witness.

Title:Until the Eyes Shut: Memories of a machine gunner on the Eastern Front, 1943-45
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    Until the Eyes Shut: Memories of a machine gunner on the Eastern Front, 1943-45 Reviews

  • G.W. Strother

    One of the best personal accounts of WW2There have been many books by veterans that give a glimpse into the horror of war on both fronts, but only a few authors have been able to make you feel as thou...

  • Andrew Downing

    Incredible book! Must read piece of history.I loved everything about this book. Absolutely epic journey. How a man can cheat death so many times and live to raise a family after is beyond me. Beyond w...

  • Stavros Kanakaris

    A stunning read both for the history buff ànd the casual reader interested in the gripping travails of a hapless young soldier caught in a whirlwind of a devastating war, escaping death numerous time...

  • Ath

    SuperbVery good memoir, honest with emotions. The illustration of comradeship is touching and the cruelty and ugliness of war fully revealed. Someone left the comment that this is like the Austrian Ba...

  • Mark Conway

    Excellent bookA great wartime memoir...Well worth reading...you wont regret it. Up close action filled description of Eastern Front combat. Enjoy....

  • Robert Thomas

    GrippingAn amazing account, well worth reading. Devoid of any political ideology, showing the life of a simple soldier suffering the horrific conditions of the Eastern front....

  • Jose R

    This was a breathtaking narrative. The pace moved right along providing just enough detail to grasp I the incomprehensible pain and suffering lived by the common Soldier. ...

  • Mary Grohs

    Worth your time!A very good read. The world must not forget what was sacrificed on all sides during World War two.Thanks Hans!...

  • Michael J. Mehltretter

    Great readFirst hand accounts and the proper mixture of military fact and personal interactions with friends and feelings. I would definitely recommend this book....

  • William F. B. O'Reilly

    An extraordinary war account brimming with humanity. A genuine treasure. My father fought on the other side in the war -- 10th Mountain Division -- and yet I found myself praying that Hans would make ...