Blood in the Forest

The End of the Second World War in the Courland Pocket

Vincent Hunt

Blood in the Forest tells the brutal story of the forgotten battles of the final months of the Second World War. While the eyes of the world were on Hitler's bunker, more than half a million men fought six cataclysmic battles along a front line of fields and forests in Western Latvia known as the ‘Courland Pocket'. Just an hour from the capital Rig
Date Published :
May 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Illustration :
16pp color & b/w photos, 6 b/w maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Hardback
ISBN : 9781911512066
Pages : 272
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
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+
Available
$69.95
Paperback
ISBN : 9781913336035
Pages : 288
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6.25 inches
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+
Available
$29.95
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Overview
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Blood in the Forest tells the brutal story of the forgotten battles of the final months of the Second World War. While the eyes of the world were on Hitler’s bunker, more than half a million men fought six cataclysmic battles along a front line of fields and forests in Western Latvia known as the Courland Pocket. Just an hour from the capital Riga, German forces bolstered by Latvian Legionnaires were cut off and trapped with their backs to the Baltic. The only way out was by sea: the only chance of survival to hold back the Red Army. Forced into uniform by Nazi and Soviet occupiers, Latvian fought Latvian – sometimes brother against brother. Hundreds of thousands of men died for little territorial gain in unimaginable slaughter. When the Germans capitulated, thousands of Latvians continued a war against Soviet rule from the forests for years afterwards. An award-winning documentary journalist, the author travels through the modern landscape gathering eye-witness accounts from seventy years before piecing together for the first time in English the stories of those who survived. He meets veterans who fought in the Latvian Legion, former partisans and a refugee who fled the Soviet advance to later become President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, A survivor of the little-known concentration camp at Popervale and founder of Riga’s Jewish Museum, Margers Vestermanis has never spoken about his personal experiences. Here he gives details of the SS new world order planned in Kurzeme, his escape from a death march and subsequent survival in the forests with a Soviet partisan group - and a German deserter. With eyewitness accounts, detailed maps and expert contributions alongside rare newspaper archive, photographs from private collections and extracts from diaries translated into English from Latvian, German and Russian, the author assembles a ghastly picture of death and desperation in a tough, uncomfortable story of a nation both gripped by war and at war with itself.

About The Author
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Vincent Hunt is a documentary journalist and award-winning BBC producer. Crossing Latvia interviewing people who suffered at the hands of the KGB or fought against their system of totalitarian control he sets the political and social context of what Communism actually meant in this Baltic state: interrogation, surveillance, deportation and often death. This is his second book about Latvia’s recent history, following on from Blood in the Forest - the end of the Second World War in the Courland Pocket (Helion 2017) which detailed the six desperate battles by German and Latvian forces to halt the Red Army advance into Latvia. His work explores pan-generational trauma, forgiveness and legacy, with the journey to see the landscape now an important part of understanding sorrow, loss and memorial for those left behind. His first book Fire and Ice (The History Press, 2014) was a journey across Arctic Norway meeting people affected by the Nazi scorched earth retreat of 1944 and the forced evacuation of the region. Along the way he discovered the shocking stories of 13,700 Soviet prisoners worked to death in sub-zero conditions or murdered by their Nazi captors.

REVIEWS
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"I wasn't even born when the newspapers heralded the very end of the second world war, but I'm willing to bet there was little or no mention of the Latvian affair, as uncovered by journalist Vincent Hunt. In fact, the hundred of thousands of Latvian and Red Army soldiers who died in the dying months of the war, must have bolstered by a considerable amount the final number of casualties of the conflict! Well written, compelling drama, made all the more readable by the author's persistence in uncovering eye-witness accounts of what actually happened."

- Books Monthly

“ … The author's skilled use of interviews combined with his personal travelogue makes it one of the best books I have read in a number of years, as it successfully brings the long lasting impact of war on the Latvian people into stark focus. I look forward to reading more titles from Vincent Hunt in the future.”

- Recollections of WW2

“Hunt has produced a comprehensive work, extensively researched and well worth the read… Hunt has written a military history, but has included a deeper understanding of how humans survive war.”

- The NYMAS Review, Autumn 2017

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