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This book is based on the war diary of an adolescent soldier during the siege of Budapest by the Red Army in 1944-45. The narrative focuses on the day-by-day account of the defence of a key sector of 'Fortress Budapest' by a volunteer unit. This unit, the Vannay Battalion, held off a division's worth of Soviet infantry and armour for seven weeks in unimaginably tough winter conditions. The author served as a 14-year-old officer cadet in the Hungarian Army, working as a dispatch runner. The battle of Budapest lasted 102 days and ended with an breakout attempt of the encircled garrison on 12 February 1945 - by contrast, the siege of Berlin lasted just two weeks. The defence of the city was fought out over the heads of the 800,000 non-combatant civilians, of whom some 38,000 died during the siege. The Hungarian and German soldiers who died in the battle bring the total losses for the defenders to 76,000; the attacking Red Army and their Romanian allies also lost 80,000 men. The defence of the city of Budapest is a story of urban combat in atrocious conditions.The innovative tactics of the author's battalion are described in some detail and will provide valuable observatio on urban warfare for professional readers and scholars. The book also attempts to give the reader a whiff of the stench and exaltation of battle, and in doing so also provides us with an insight into the mind of a child caught up in one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
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