Claus von Rosen was born into one of the Baltic Ritterschaften, the German-speaking landed nobility of the Baltic countries, then part of the Russian Empire. He prospered as an executive in family-owned businesses, and adapted to the new order of independent Estonia, learning the language and doing national service in the Estonian army. With the arrival of the Second World War, and the invasion of Estonia by Soviet forces, all German Balts were declared enemy aliens, and Claus's family moved west and he himself was drafted into the German army, seeing service on the Eastern front. There, together with thousands of other German soldiers, he was taken captive by the Soviets and imprisoned in Siberia. He was to remain in the Gulag until 1955, when all German prisoners-of-war in the USSR were released, following negotiations between Moscow and Bonn. Claus returned to the Federal Republic (West Germany), for him a new country born from the ruins of the old. This volume is his memoir, offering the modern reader a glimpse of an almost-forgotten, indeed almost-unknown, world.
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