H H Kirst (Hans Helmet Kirst) is famous for his detailed Nazi war novels that probably saw the zenith of their success in the 70s and 80s. You probably already know his work even if you think you don’t. “The Night of the Generals” was one of his; later made into a successful movie, and the Gunner Asch books too, that were hugely popular back then. I enjoyed them all.
This book, “Heroes for Sale”, is another in the same genre and was written back then too, and I have just got round to reading it. It features a special camp, AFSIC Kampfental, located far away from the encircling fronts, with a special purpose that is kept secret.
The staff billeted there live a privileged life, great rations, symphony orchestra to keep them entertained, and the only threat to human life comes from within their own ranks.
H H Kirst clearly knows what he writing about. He was born in Prussia in 1914 and would have been 25 on the outbreak of World War II. He served in the German army from 1933 until the war ended in 1945, and thus the reader can be sure the details and ambience and experiences are spot on. The man lived through those appalling times from beginning to end and must have witnessed so many dreadful things.
This particular book was filled with many characters and was a little too gossipy for my liking. Mind you, I thought that of The Night of the Generals too, lots of gentlemen lounging about endlessly debating and discussing strategy and threats whilst pouring another drink. Maybe too much talk and not enough action, you might say, but for all that “Heroes for Sale” has a lot to offer, especially to people who enjoy novels from that era and that perspective.
And here’s a little tip to whoever owns the copyright to these books today. None of the titles, so far as I could see, are even available as ebooks. Indeed H H Kirst as a writer does not even have an Amazon page detailing his work, and that is crazy. Get some new covers made, and put some ebooks out there, and soon, for there is a whole new generation (or two!) of readers who would like to discover the man’s work. They will sell. Or if you prefer, I’ll do them for you! Just say the word. Hans Helmet Kirst died in 1989 after writing 46 books and deserves to be remembered.