THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIER by Guy Safer. Translated from the French by Lily Emmet. 465 pages. New York: Ballantine Books, 1967; London: Sphere Books, 1986.
This is one man's true story of the bitter, killing cold of the Russian winter, of vicious combat against Russian partisans, and of the carnage of battles against a desperate but merciless Red Army with its mind-numbing artillery attacks and endless waves of infantry and tanks.
Posted to the crack Grosse Deutschland division, with its savage training where sadistic instructors will shoot down those who fail to shape up, the soldier enters a violent and remorseless world that relentlessly destroys any hope and ideals and where all that matters is brute survival fighting a relentless enemy." (Source)
The aim of writing the book was, for him, "to reanimate with all the intensity I can summon those distant cries from the slaughterhouse."*
What he is finally saying is: Don't judge me, be me.*
This does not glorify war or fighting, but rather highlights the absolute futility of war. "Sajer, doomed to survival, may be as moving an argument against war as all the corpses he unflinchingly bears witness to."*
How is anyone supposed to "simply forget" life-changing experiences like that?
"Shall I ever deserve pardon? . . . Can I ever forget?"*
It's... errr... obviously a pretty heavy read!!! Fascinating tho, but not in a gruesome way. It's actually a good read, despite my poor description... even some countries advise their military trainees to read it, to try to begin to appreciate the meat-grinder of face-to-face combat.
Hopefully it puts them off wanting to do it...
I know it's not something you'd wanna rush out and read a copy of! I just find personal warts'n'all stories absolutely fascinating...
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