By 1812, Jakob Walter, although only 24 years of age, had already served in two campaigns as a foot soldier for the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. Jakob and many other conscripts in the Grande Armée were ordered to undertake the famously ill-fated march on Moscow, after which the devastated remnants of Napoleon's fighting force were left to return to their homes on their own power. Jakob's meticulous diary tells a tale of survival and perseverance during this nightmarish march against staggering odds.
In January of 1933, Germany elected Adolf Hitler as Chancellor, and as one of his first acts he called for a second election to determine seats in the Reichstag, or German Parliament. Hitler intended to fill the Reichstag with other Nazi party officials, allowing them to replace the Weimar Republic, the German system of Parliamentary democracy instituted after World War I, with their own government in order to control Germany's future. The Communist party's objections to this bold plan posed a political threat to the Nazi party.