• Twilight of the Gods

  • A Swedish Waffen-SS Volunteer's Experiences with the 11th SS-Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, Eastern Front 1944-45
  • By: Thorolf Hillblad - editor
  • Narrated by: Bruce Mann
  • Length: 5 hrs and 50 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (231 ratings)

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Twilight of the Gods  By  cover art

Twilight of the Gods

By: Thorolf Hillblad - editor
Narrated by: Bruce Mann
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Publisher's Summary

Twilight of the Gods was originally written in Swedish, and published in Buenos Aires shortly after the end of WWII. Erik Wallin, a Swedish soldier who volunteered for service with the Waffen-SS, participated in the climactic battles on the Eastern Front during late 1944 and 1945, later telling his story to this book's editor, Thorolf Hillblad.

Wallin served with the Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion, 11th SS-Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, a unit composed mainly of non-German volunteers, including Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes. The division enjoyed a high reputation for its combat capability, and was always at the focal points of the fighting on the Eastern Front in the last year of the war. During this period it saw combat in the Baltic, in Pomerania, on the Oder, and finally in defense of Berlin, where it was destroyed.

Erik Wallin served with his unit in all of these locations, and provides the listener with a fascinating glimpse into these final battles. The book is written with a "no holds barred" approach which will captivate, excite, and maybe even shock the listener - his recollections do not evade the brutality of fighting against the advancing Red Army. Twilight of the Gods is destined to become a classic memoir of the Second World War.

©2002 Thorolf Hillblad (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Twilight of the Gods

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A truly unique look at the Eastern Front from a devout Nazi.

Where to start? Performance wise 4 stars. Bruce Mann is a good reader. However, this book sometimes had to much of an excitable tone to it. Kind of got tiring sometimes. I’ve listen to plenty of first hand accounts and 4 from the Eastern Front alone. All them are able to convey the action and emotions without sounding like they are using their voice and tone to convey the urgency and chaos of the action. Perhaps this has some to do with the writing, but the reader came off a bit shouty sometimes. But is pronunciations of slang and military terms was good. This is a pet peeve of many military history listeners.

The story is very action heavy. There is no usual tales of enlisting and basic training, it’s straight to the front. I like these types of books. I listen to them in between breaks from very long, heavy, technical works to break things up. It’s is great in that respect. However, being that the story covers a strategic retreat it is the same style of engagement over and over. The contacts get repetitive if you listen in a long stint. I do not really hold this against the book itself, it was the nature of the conflict at that time. Just something to be aware of.

Something some readers have mentioned negatively, is that the author, was a FOREIGN WAFFEN SS VOLUNTEER! He is a very strong, committed, Nazi. The narrative is full of racial commentary. It was written right after the war and you can tell. Some of the Amazon reviews condemn this book for it, I think it’s great insomuch that It really lends a sense of authenticity to the story. After all this was a man so possessed to leave his native home, and fight for a foreign country’s cause because he believed in it.

In the end while this books has some failings, and the reading lacks (or has quirks), you cannot really discount this book for it much. It is a truly unique, in that it’s breaks from the common man of the Wehrmacht, fightings for brothers in arms and families back home, while secretly detesting the Nazi party and Hitler. This is something that almost all other German memoirs echo. For this fact alone this book is worth reading or listening to. I even added a physical copy to my collect.

33 people found this helpful

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Passionate account of the war

I saw a few reviews which called this book "propaganda", which is absurd. This is the memoir of a man who was completely devoted to his unit, his comrades, and his homeland. The author does an excellent job conveying the intensity of the conflict they faced, and at times my gut wrenched thinking of the suffering he and his men endured. I think any veteran who has felt the bonds that only combat can forge will appreciate this memoir much more than most other war novels.

7 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Good Listen

This was a good memoir but did have a few faults with it.

One of the biggest things is that in the background of the narrator at times, you can hear what sound like pages being turned very subtly.

Another thing I wish would have been included was the authors background. What was he doing before 1944? Why did he join the Waffen-SS? Why did he volunteer to fight for Germany? Those things are sadly never addressed.

Overall, it was a good book.

6 people found this helpful

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Fasinating story from the other side

Interesting to hear a story by a true believer in the nazi cause, no apologies made and with many references to the greatness of western socialism. amazing ANYONE could come though those battles alive...let alone multiple battles

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good hearing another viewpoint, but hard to follow

Hearing about the war from the vantage point of the Germans, and in this case the Swedish Panzergrenadier, is always interesting. You know what happened in the war, and you know that the German's ideology was the most atrocious and diabolical the world has almost ever seen throughout history. Interestingly, those fighting on the Eastern front were fighting to rid the world of the communist scourge that was Russia or "Ivan." That is the gist of this book. However, this book is hard to follow. It's not ordered in any particular way, so it makes it difficult to know what is going on and when. Also, the narrator is a bit shrill in this work.

4 people found this helpful

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Honest look from an enemy soldier.

I myself am Swedish by heritage. My cultural history is hugely important to me. i read the Eddas near daily. Would I have been so easily convinced by Nazi propaganda like this poor man was...? That it was time for Our Germanic peoples to have our day in the sun. We are an exceptional people. Just like so many other cultures out there. Could i have seen the horrible brutality beneath the rhetoric? ...I cant honestly say. I could puff up my chest and tell you how much better I am then that. but idk if it would have been true. And no one does. That is why i respect this book. This is an honest man. he just allowed himself to get with the wrong people. Could happen to anyone who hears all the right things...

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

SS Propaganda

Egentlig en fin bog, der tydeligt viser kampen på østfronten i 1944/45. Men forfatteren falder over i ren nazi volapyk alt for meget.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

WWII From A Nazi's Perspective

-NOTE: I take the ratings literally: "Love it", "It's Great", "Pretty Good", "It's OK", and "Not for me". So even books I like may get a three or four star rating.-

Be forewarned that the story is told from a Nazi SS soldier and is peppered with racial commentary. At one point, he talks about the "volunteer" workers brought in from Poland who were barbaric and should be grateful for a resources-thin Germany for the undergarments that they've never had before. There's more stories like this.

The value of this story lies in the historical perspective. It's from a Nazi soldier in a war who believed the repugnant ideology and fought for it. It shows the power and danger that propaganda presents when paired with preexisting prejudices. This type of perspective is rare and should be taken as a warning to future generations.

Also, it demonstrates that the experience of battle is shared between all soldiers ( I've enjoyed other war memoirs). It's the soldiers and citizens that bear the brunt of leaders' decisions. Side Note: I also thought it was neat to look up the history of the storyteller's division and follow along with the story.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Excellent Story and Historic Context

As a student of WWII history, and particularly the Eastern Front, I found the story quite fascinating, albeit a bit shorter than other memoirs. I highly recommend reading the actual book, as opposed to this audiobook. I know it's a bit petty, but I really couldn't stand the style of cadence and tone of the narrator, Bruce Mann. Every sentence sounds over-emphasized and ends on a high tone, as if Mann is asking a question with every sentence. Overall, his voice detracted from my listening enjoyment, and I ended up buying the book, instead. Perhaps you'll have better luck.

2 people found this helpful

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Very powerful story

This book is a very powerful story that places you there in the action. If you have read The Forgotten Soldier and like it, you will love this book

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-19-20

A fully truthful recollection

of what happened in dark end days of world war 2. no hints of chosenite influence

An excellent account of an elite Waffen SS unit, made up of Nordic volunteers, in the dying months of World War 2. It took us into the mindset of foreign volunteers and why they signed up; namely to fight the Bolsheviks.

It dispels myths that all Waffen SS fighters were inhumane monsters. Instead it paints a picture of an elite fighting force that repeatedly came to the rescue of Wehrmacht units.

There aren't very many books written by SS soldiers from World War II, and there definitely aren't many by foreign volunteers in the SS. Erik Wallin was a Swedish volunteer in the SS Nordland Division and saw extensive combat on the Eastern Front.

This book doesn't cover his entire combat career, but starts with New Year's 1945 and goes through the brutal end of the war. The combat descriptions in the book range from pretty graphic to fairly mundane, but the unbridled brutality of war comes through very clearly.

Even when faced with the overwhelming colossus of the Red Army, Wallin and his fellow SS soldiers seem to maintain a fairly high morale and belief that final victory is still a possibility. This is a pretty quick read , but I certainly wish there was a bit more in some parts as some battles are described in a fair amount of detail while others get much smaller mentions.

Some reviewers are angered by Wallin's failure to mention war crimes committed by his side and to praise National Socialism. That seems silly, to me; no one volunteers to fight in a war they believe is evil, so it should be expected that the author would support his side. The 'alleged crimes' are documented in countless texts, the value here is the look inside the mind of a committed, though seemingly not ideologically crazed, Waffen SS soldier

It ends with an amazing account of what it was like to be under siege in the hell of Berlin as it was being pounded by Soviet artillery. An account well worth the read.

A great addition to anyone's library if they're interested in the Eastern Front.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-31-20

Fantastic

It's always great to hear war stories from a personal perspective. This is one of those stories. The retreat and horrific experience, combined with some good detail of this SS soldier. If nothing else, it should serve as a reminder of the personal sacrafice that the ordinary soldier, on both sides, makes.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Lee Turner
  • 07-29-21

Self justification of a ardent Nazi

Little action but filled with his own pride for the SS POW slaves were well fed, paid and lived in, good accommodation. All atrocities are ignored and only defeated by vast Siberian hordes hahaha. According to the author. Total nonsense

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Matt.G.
  • 08-27-20

Short but a good book.

A good book that gets you into the action. The narrator get excited when the action requires him too which adds to the experience.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alistair Fraser
  • 05-22-20

Excellent!!!

Fabulous book, this is the second time I've listened to it and enjoyed it thoroughly. I wish Audible would do more like it. Highly recommended!!!

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-25-20

interesting view into the mind of a fascist zealot

The interesting thing here was the insight into what drove these zealots on. Alas very much echoed in the white supremacist movement currently, lots very selective views of history. Very much at odds with several other views from German veterans who either had nothing to do with the politics and could see the writing on the wall once America became involved.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-18-20

Addictive

I had withdrawal symptoms when I finished. Excellent inside story of the horrendous war in the East and the trauma suffered by soldiers and civilians caught up in battle.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr. P. D. McPherson
  • 12-08-21

A fascinating war story

This is a fascinating and true account of a Swedish volunteer fighting with the SS for Nazi Germany. It tells his thrilling account from the start of 1945 to end of his war service. I find it revealing to hear stories of world war 2 from the axis side as they contrast completely from that of our own, yet hold common similarities in how those suffering from war seek its end. Very few accounts exist from SS soldiers and whilst the key figure is on the Nazi side, he and his comrades have many redeeming features. Most of those involved in war did not commit atrocities.
This is easily the most exciting and interesting account I have heard so far from the Axis side.
Sadly the narration is robotic and I’m dismayed at how badly wrong audible get it when picking narrators. They’ve some superb ones but also several who sound like a machine.
Despite this, please don’t be put off as this is a fascinating wartime account which is not to be missed by anyone interested in the period.
For the story alone, I’d highly recommend it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • john brenchley
  • 06-01-21

Fact or fiction

I’m not convinced this is all fact ? It may well be but the story is exciting and interesting anyway .

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-22-21

Bruce Mann

The story was good but the narrator sounded like a robot and not very animated which made for a boring listen

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Ibrahim
  • 09-06-22

Based

This memoir shows the human aspect of the SS and their struggle to protect Europe from communism. Excellent listen it has 2 flaws for starters the narrator sounds bored as if he doesn't want to read the book; secondly the author mentions a passing moment he was a volunteer for the Finish army during the Winter War. It would've been great if his story started there then transition to him joining the SS.