First published in 1957 and out of print for decades, Moscow Tram Stop is a classic of World War II on the Eastern Front. Heinrich Haape was a young doctor drafted into the German Wehrmacht just before the war began. He was with the spearhead of Operation Barbarossa, tasked with taking Moscow, when it invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Mere hours into the attack, Haape and his fellow soldiers learned the hard way that the Red Army fought with otherworldly tenacity even in defeat. The rapid advance of the early days slowed during the summer, and Haape’s division did not begin the final push on Moscow until October. It was a hard slog, plagued first by rain and mud, then by cold and snow. By early December, German forces had reached the gates of the Soviet capital but could press no farther. By winter’s end, Haape’s battalion of 800 had been reduced to a mere 28 soldiers. The doctor’s account is enthrallingly vivid. The drama and excitement never slacken as Haape recounts his experiences from the unique perspective of a doctor, who often had to join in the fighting himself and witnessed the physical and psychological toll of combat.
Heinrich Haape survived the war but never practiced medicine again. He worked as editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper, an art journal, and a monthly magazine and also lectured at a school of drama, wrote two operas, and painted. He died in 1976. Craig Luther is a former Fulbright Scholar and a retired U.S. Air Force historian. His books include Barbarossa Unleashed: The German Blitzkrieg through Central Russia to the Gates of Moscow (Schiffer, 2014). He lives in Tehachapi, California.