well said. May I post the letter you once wrote about Sajer and his book?
http://www-cgsc.army.mil/milrev/English ... etters.htm
The Forgotten Soldier Revisited
I recently established contact with Guy Sajer, the author of the well-known autobiography The Forgotten Soldier, a military literature classic that describes the author's experiences fighting for Germany against the Soviet Union during World War II. With regard to a previous letter to the editor by Lieutenant Colonel Edwin L. Kennedy, published in your March-April 1996 issue--"Military Professionals do not Use Fiction as Fact"--I would like to set the record straight.
After 18 months of research, I was able to locate Sajer. He lives in a rural village approximately 50 miles east of Paris under his nom de plume. Although not his real last name (Guy is his real first name), Sajer is his mother's maiden name. She was born in Gotha, Germany. He enlisted in the German Wehrmacht in 1942 under a German name to avoid the ridicule he would have received had he used his real French last name. To
verify his book's authenticity, I asked Sajer a series of questions that had been raised by Kennedy in a Spring 1992 Army History article titled "The Forgotten Soldier: Fiction or Fact?"
Sajer quickly responded to my query. Although he admitted that minor details such as uniform insignia, weapons nomenclatures and other such things were not important to him, he stands by what he wrote 30 years ago. He insists that he did not set out to write the definitive history of World War II, only what he had personally experienced while fighting in the elite Grossdeutschland division on the Russian Front. He admitted that he could have erred in describing locations and chronology, but that he wrote things as he remembered them. In his letter to me, he stated that "In the darkness of a night in Russia, you could have told me that we were in China, and I would have believed you." Further details on Sajer's wartime and postwar experiences are described in an upcoming article I wrote for Army History, scheduled for publication in their Fall 1997 issue.
Kennedy's own key witness, former Grossdeutschland Division historian and reconnaissance squadron commander Major (Ret.) Helmuth Spaeter, who claimed that The Forgotten Soldier was fictional, has now changed his thinking. After reading several letters from Sajer, Spaeter admitted in a letter to me that he now believes that Sajer could have been a member of that famous division after all. Spaeter wrote about his
new-found admiration for Guy Sajer and planned to reread his own German copy of the book, titled Denn diese Tage Quall war gross: Erinnerung eines vergessenen Soldaten (These Days Were Full of Great Suffering--Memories of a Forgotten Soldier, (Munich: Verlag Fritz Molden, 1969) in order to examine it from a more unbiased point of view.
Hopefully, Sajer's efforts to clear his name will reestablish the prominence his book has earned on many a soldier's bookshelf. Readers can rest assured that when they pick up a copy of The Forgotten Soldier, they will be reading one of the best and most realistic books ever written from an infantryman's perspective, regardless of which side he fought for in World War II.
Lieutenant Colonel Douglas E. Nash, USA, US Special Operations Command, MacDill AFB, Florida