by Eric Tobey, edited by Jonathan Bocek
der Reserve Eberhardt Von Machui served in
Artillerie Regt. 28, 28 Jäger Div.,
Wehrkreis VIII (28th Jäger was also known
as the "Iron Cross Div.").
Lieutnant Machui was in the RAD in Breslau
area of Silesia before volunteering for the
army on Oct. 1939. Commissioned a Lt.
in April 1940 after he attended basic
training and officer's school. His
family were all soldiers and had been for
generations. His father knew Field
Marshall Von Kleist whose estate was close
to the family home. Lieutnant Machui's
brother was a Knights Cross holder (see
below left pic) who was wounded 14 times
before being killed in Kurland.
This is the German equivalent of the PX,
where the German soldiers could purchase
items which either were not supplied by the
army, or if the army supplied it, it left a
lot to be desired. Items which could
be purchased included combs, razor blades,
cigarettes, toothpaste, paper, pens, etc...
Evidently the army supplied soap, but it was
the most awful quality and only good for
scrubbing clothes. This was set up at
Division HQ and was usually run by a
Zahlmeister. The Zahlmeister(s) would
usually come in for a lot of ribbing as no
one really considered them real soldiers.
he discipline his subordinates?
Lt. Machui couldn't give me any personal examples
of this, he said that the 28 Jäger Div. (former 28th
Infantry Division) was an old division with a long and
strong military tradition. Its men were all
Silesians and were a close knit and efficient unit.
Infractions of discipline were rare and he could
remember none. He went on to say that law and
order in his unit was very strict and that he couldn't
believe the rowdiness of the first US troops he
encountered. Penalties were also severe, for
instance, the penalty for rape was death and this, he
knew, would be enforced. Anyone found sleeping
on sentry duty would, if the commander ordered it, be
sent to a straf (penal) battalion. These troops
cleared mines, drew enemy fire, and were otherwise
given hazardous duty.
there any difference in quality in soldiers from
different status in Germany?
Germans from Alsace-Lorraine were considered
appalling soldiers, they were from an area that had
changed hands several times over the last few hundred
years. This had a diluting effect on there
military prowess. This was felt about Alsace-Lorrainians
throughout the armed forces. He said that the
Silesians made good soldiers although he admitted to
being a little biased. East Prussians also made
good soldiers. He also at this time, as well as
at several subsequent junctures in the interview,
stated that the Russian soldiers were the best he had
ever seen. They were skilled and tough in close
combat and at home fighting on the steppes or in the
towns. He was involved in street fighting in
Smolensk in 1941, and as then artillery was still to
the rear, he led an assault group in street clearing.
The Russians had to be killed killed as they would not
move or surrender. The few prisoners taken were
either badly shot-up or unconscious. This had a
sobering effect on him and his men as previously they
had killed at a great distance. West of
Smolensk, before entering the city, he had passed the
scene of a Russian human wave attack that had been
repulsed several days earlier. His men passed
this medieval scene in shocked silence. He
summed up the ordinary Russian soldiers as someone who
despite poor leadership, can exhibit amazing bravery,
and can live on almost nothing.
ever get a Führer Geschenk?
Yes, these were
parcels (Führer presents) given to soldiers going on
leave. They were handed out at the railway
stations and contained food for the soldier's journey
(sausage, hard biscuit, cheese, etc...). He
didn't know if this went on during the entire war, but
in 1942, when going on leave from the Crimea, and in
1943, on leave from Beylorussia, he received these
parcels, they were always well received as everyone
always seemed to be hungry.
your basic training.
Took place in Schweidnitz (Selesia)
which was the garrison area for 28 Jäger
Division. Trained from October 1939 to
March/April 1940. Was in 28th
Artillery Regt. and used the 15cm Skoda
gebirgs haubitze. The basic training
was no honeymoon but he remembers one
Wachmeister (artillery) who told them,
somewhat kindly, that the more he could
teach them the better their chances if
survival would be. Some further
training was done in France, after the
conclusion of the French Campaign, at
Bordeau. Later in the war, some
replacements for 28th Jager were trained in
France, by this time training was reduced to
two monthes and these soldiers arrived at
the front poorly prepared.
was one of these soldiers (see picture at
right) who was sent to the front and
presumed killed soon afterwards on the
southern front. He was patrolling and
his patrol was ambushed by the Russians.
The bodies of the patrol were found but not
his, a few days later a Russian C.P. was
overrun and his Soldbuch was found.
However, no trace of him!
(missing in Russia)
remember any army jokes?
Didn't know any, he said they were a serious
outfit and that humorous incidents were few and far
between. They had a few humorous nicknames e.g.
Clubfoot Goebbels. There were many funny stories
and jokes about Reichsmarshall Herman Göring, however
he can't remember any of them.
remember any army slang?
He didn't know very much slang. Goulash
Cannon, Kettenhunde, knobelbecher, that was all he
could remember. He discussed the goulash cannon
for some time. Every company/battery had one,
they were chiefly used to prepare massive stews or
soups, however meat could also be fried on them, as
well as sausage. There was also an oven as well
as the boilers. He couldn't remember any more
were some of the popular songs you sang as a soldier?
There were few singers in his outfit. Lili
Marlene was very popular.
your food in the field (Iron Ration).
Every soldier was issued an iron ration which he
kept in his breadbag. This could not be eaten
without the orders of the C.O. and was for emergencies
only. He never had to eat one but it contained
hard biscuits and bully beef. If a soldier could
obtain an extra one he would keep it in his gasmask
container after throwing away his gasmask. Lots
of masks were thrown away in his unit, although the
punishment for this was harsh i.e. extra guard duty,
deductions from pay for lose of mask. I never
used the gasmask during the entire war, the artillery
unit had gas shells in stock, but these were never
you win your EK2?
He had the spotting binoculars and a two man radio
team. He was directing artillery fire at
battalion level & broke up a heavy Russian attack.
For this he was awarded the EK2 in 1941 before Moscow.
before Sevastopol in Krim, 3 previous artillery
observers had been killed by searching fire at this
particular spot. Directing fire again against a
Russian attack at battalion level, he was awarded the
EK I by the Division commander general der infanterie
the wear of Flußlappen vs. Socks.
The German army socks were made of poor quality
wool and did not wear well. He had good socks
sent from home so he did not have to use flußlappen.
He described the flußlappen as being linen or white
cotton & were warmer as they were layered.
They also didn't wear out as they could be rotated and
the soldiers put newspaper sheets between the flußlappen
and the mountain boot to soak up any moisture etc...
Lt. Muchui remembers it being very cold before
Moscow. His unit was taken from the front line
in November 1941 to be rested and refitted.
Shortly before it was taken from the line, he suffered
a head wound when a rifle bullet penetrated the rear
skirt of his steel helmet. There is an old 1st
War saying, "never light more than two cigarettes
with one match." He lit three and was shot
for his pains. He spent several months in
hospital before returning to the front before
Sevastapol. He was billeted in the LIVADIA
Castle (Yalta 1945) and was much impressed with the
opulence of the building. His unit took serious
casualties in the Kerch area (eastern Crimea).
So Crimean tartars were used as auxiliaries.
These men were very dependable and brave. They
also, hated the communists. Muchui had limited
duty during 1943-1945 due to problems with balance
because of the head wound he received in 1941.
He went to Breslau hospital in January 1945 for an
operation. There were two armed sentries just
inside. He asked what was going on, the sentries
said that the Russians were 30km away. This was
a special hospital for head wounds with 2000 patients.
He decided his operation could wait and returned to
the family home to arrange passage west.
Von Machui on the far left (Krim
Von Machui outside Sevastapol
Forward artillery observer.