WW2 German memoir

"The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer. A Franco-German from Alsace who served with the Wehrmacht on the Eastern front, originally with the German equivalent of the Service Corps and then with the Grossdeutschland division.

This is an excellent read and thoroughly miserable! It tells of soldiers reduced to tears by the incapacitating cold and scrabbling for food wherever they could find it. The first part of the book is basic training and convoy supply duties until the retreats after Stalingrad and Kharkov.

The lot of a German soldier appears not to have be a good one. The officers and SNCOs were disinterested in the welfare of their troops, hence the scrabbling for food. The troops behind the lines were hounded by military police - who tore up leave passes of grumbling soldiers - and expected to salute civilian policemen (who had officer status over soldiers) when on leave!

The book is at the point where the author has transferred to the Grossdeutchland. It will be interesting to see if life (of whatever expectancy) within a combat formation was any better. One would imagine so, given the requirements of combat in terms of leadership, mutual respect and trust.

It is a fascinating comparison with the two excellent memoirs I have read from the British Army of World War Two - With the Jocks and Quartered Safe Out Here. The British Army appears to have placed far more emphasis on the responsibilities of officers and SNCOs for the welfare of their troops.

Perhaps some of the SS and Wehrmacht re-enactors featured elsewhere could put their money where their mouths are and take themselves to Russia for three months in the winter! :twisted:

A highly recommended book, in the shops for £7.99.
Just reread my old copy as it happens. I can thoroughly recommend it. The parts describing his Grossdeutsch basic are an eye-opener for those who dicuss how hard training should be and the descriptions of the slow disintegration of the Third Reich are riveting.

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