"The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by David N » Sat Aug 30, 2008 11:19 am

Frederick L Clemens wrote:Annelie, it is perfectly reasonable to compare Sajer's account with accounts by other lower-level soldiers. What made Sajer's account such a hit is that it was one of the few of its kind available in English for quite a while. As the book jacket promoted it, it was the "All Quiet on the Western Front" (Im Westen Nichts Neues) for WW2.

I've read both and recommend that anyone debating about TFS, do the same. There are similarities between TFS and All Quiet which merit a positive comparison - they both focus primarily on the point of view of the German foot soldier, especially his psychology during the terror of battle.

There are, however, some profound differences between TFS and All Quiet as well. All Quiet is clearly a work of fiction, does not digress from the soldier's viewpoint, and does not have any distracting errors. TFS, on the other hand, resides in a gray zone between fact and fiction, often speaks of things which go beyond the simple soldier's point of view, and contains a mountain of erroneous material masquerading as concrete fact.



Sajer may have been a vet, but TFS is not an "authentic" account by any stretch. All Quiet - as a work of fiction - goes way beyond TFS in the category of authenticity.
In fact, "All Quiet on the Western Front" was heavily criticized when first published in Germany for being "innacurate and untruthful." For example, the publishers hinted that All Quiet was autobiographical, which it actually was not. This resulted in considerable effort being made during the late Twenties and early Thirties to investigate Remarque's own war record. Remarque was recorded to have been at the front during June-July 1917. He was in a hospital from August 3, 1917 to October 31, 1918. By contrast, the narrator of All Quiet seems to have been in infantry combat from 1916 until his death in October 1918. Also, "Paul Baumer" was depicted as an eager volunteer, while Remarque was a conscript. Remarque was always reluctant to give interviews, let alone provide precise information about his war career. Sound familiar?

Some German veterans praised the book. Others criticized it. It was heavily attacked on the political right. A lengthy discussion of the controversy in Germany over "All Quiet on the Western Front,", can be found in the book, "Rites of Spring," by Modris Eksteins.

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Frederick L Clemens » Sat Aug 30, 2008 12:42 pm

David N wrote:In fact, "All Quiet on the Western Front" was heavily criticized when first published in Germany for being "innacurate and untruthful." For example, the publishers hinted that All Quiet was autobiographical, which it actually was not. This resulted in considerable effort being made during the late Twenties and early Thirties to investigate Remarque's own war record. Remarque was recorded to have been at the front during June-July 1917. He was in a hospital from August 3, 1917 to October 31, 1918. By contrast, the narrator of All Quiet seems to have been in infantry combat from 1916 until his death in October 1918. Also, "Paul Baumer" was depicted as an eager volunteer, while Remarque was a conscript. Remarque was always reluctant to give interviews, let alone provide precise information about his war career. Sound familiar?...
Correct me if I am wrong, but the attacks on Remarque were not so much focused on factual errors of the many varieties we find in Sajer's book, but rather a reaction against the "defeatist" nature of the book. Remarque did not claim it as autobiographical - obviously he gave the protagonist a different name! Sajer, on the other hand, has the main character named after himself which leads to the obvious conclusion that it is intended to be a factual autobiography and therefore every item presented as factual information in his book is fair game for scrutiny.

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Frederick L Clemens » Sat Aug 30, 2008 1:15 pm

Doug Nash wrote:I looked at them all but none of them actually say that they were taken in Vienna -
I agree and it also matches with the second-line equipment. I would go with Cottbus as the likely site of the photos. Cottbus appears to have had at least three major barracks:
- Alvensleben Kaserne in the middle of town, constructed during Imperial times, unit during the war ?
- Herman-Löns-Kaserne, south of the city center, constructed 1937/38, barracks for Pz Ersatz- und Ausbildungs Abteilung GD
- Sachsendorfer Kaserne, also south of the city center, also constructed 1937/38, home of the III. Panzer Grenadier Ersatz und Ausbildungs Batallion GD

One of the suspicious things about Sajer, is the complete absence of Cottbus in his account, despite his long membership to GD and his leaves home, during which he would have been expected to report to Cottbus.
Doug Nash wrote:When it comes to orders of magnitutude, Sajer is like an Arab. Any time where he states a given quantity as greater than 40, don't take it at face value (as in "I travelled 40 days across the desert" etc.). Doesn't mean he's lying, but it just means "a butt-load" to him. 18,000 is clearly an exaggeration, for goodness' sake.
You are very selective in your support of Sajer's accuracy. I guess you would have to be to accept one fact in one sentence and then blithely blow off the fact he gives in his next sentence. The fact is Sajer isn't an Arab, he's a very intelligent man. When he bothers to write "nine Messerschmitt 109-Fs" showed up, he demonstrates his desire to impress the reader with detailed facts. He should be held to standards of the civilized world in which he was raised - bogus or fabricated facts by an intelligent, literate man are lies.
Doug Nash wrote:As for the HJ, we have Berckholtz' town estimony that an entire battalion (except cadre) in the newly-raised Fuesilier-Regiment GD that came into the camp in the Spring of '42 was made up of HJ "volunteers." So can you state without exception that this never happened again, that this only happened once? ...
To believe Sajer, you have to believe that 90% of what he says is outside the documented record and consists of unique events that no one else thought to mention. Yes, he might have met Rudel in a bar and gotten permission to volunteer for a Stuka unit without any prior flight training, let alone any technical education. Yes, he might have been in a GD company that wore their cufftitles on the opposite sleeve. Yes, his elite GD company might have been equipped with weapons of WW1 caliber - because it is pretty wild that an infantryman wouldn't know the caliber of his own rifle when he can spot the exact series of an Me-109 in a few seconds at combat range. Yes, when he writes summer, it might have been a very hot winter. Yes, a veteran of a motor transportation unit might not have ever noticed the "WH" stenciled on every army vehicle and thought it was an unusual marking later when he saw it on a truck (see page 472). ...and so forth...

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1969 French Review of The Forgotten Soldier

Post by Doug Nash » Sat Aug 30, 2008 2:59 pm

For your viewing pleasure, here is the review of TFS soldier that was originally published in the February 1969 Edition of Paris Match. Since no one here reading this is going to be moved from their positions about the book either way (why should we? This way, we can argue about it forever), I thought I'd mix it up by adding in some articles that few, if any, readers of this website have ever seen before. That way, we can at least entertain if not reach any kind of common ground.
Cheers,
Doug Nash

The following article is from the 3 February 1968 Edition of Paris Match, p. 20


“Guy Sajer - he did not dare sign his book”

He won the "Deux Magots" [Two Golden Ingots] prize for his account of the Russian Campaign

He was born in January of 1926, by happenstance in Paris. For the father, from Auvergne, is an art merchant, and he travels and works from place to place. The mother is German.

The boy, robust already at an early age, thus grows up stage by stage during their travels.

And he finds himself in Wissembourg, on Alsatian land, when Hitler annexes the regions of Alsace and Lorraine.

All of a sudden, instead of the Huns the old stories told him of, he sees tall soldiers approaching, superb in their strength, pride, and triumph who go to war while singing idyllic songs.

The boy marvels at so much adventure.

After a short period in the Arbeitsdienst (Labor Service), which he finds too drab, he enlists in the Wehrmacht.

He is seventeen years old.

The Reich is at its height: Nazi flags fly over the Great North [N. Europe], at Brest [Harbor city in French Brittany] near the Pyramids, near Moscow, and at the gates of the Caucasus.

The boy, in Feldgrau uniform, receives a rifle and grenades to take his place in the epic events.

Barely has he become a soldier when the fate of (German) arms changes. Instead of triumph, he lives only carnage upon carnage at Smolensk, Kharkov, Stalingrad, and again Kharkov, Kiev, and especially Memel. In Eastern Prussia, he escapes only by a hair's breadth from the same fate suffered by the German Army in Courland, which is being trapped in a vise by the Soviet troops who are closing in [note: he wasn't in Courland, the interviewer just compares Memel to Courland, so don't start a thread on that, for goodness' sake].

It is an unrecognizable ghost who arrives, on a mild evening in the late fall season, in the area of Wissembourg. From the bottom of the ditch where he hides to avoid the gendarmes, he sees a small woman, bent over walking; a milk jug in her hand, her shoulders covered by an old shawl, his mother... This child of nineteen, whose trial cause him to speak like an old man, no longer even knows how to cry...

But he writes a big book, mesmerizing in its truth and sincerity that brings the most atrocious visions, so ferocious and appalling that it becomes almost unreadable. It is entitled Le Soldat Oublie [The Forgotten Soldier].

The boy did not even dare sign it with his name.

He kept only his first name: Guy, and takes on his mother's family name: Sajer. It is purely by coincidence that Robert Laffont Publishers learned of the work, by scanning certain extracts published by a Belgian review.

Then, it takes his winning of the "Deux Magots" literary prize by a healthy margin to attract attention to him.

"People surprise me when they tell me that I have written a real book. I only told (what I lived). I only have the 'Certificat d'Etudes' " he says. [note: in France, a Studies Certificate is roughly equivalent to a General Equivalency Diploma].

Tall, solid, with short hair over a straight forehead; a face both candid and hard where the eyes, steel-gray, seem to look inward.

"Have you returned to Germany?

"Yes, I go regularly, to see friends, who lived that which I lived: for we are tens of
thousands who have gone through those triumphs and nightmares. But the Germany of today, it does not interest me.”
Abbott: This sure is a beautiful forest.
Costello: Too bad you can't see it for all those trees!

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Time Magazine Review of The Forgotten Soldier

Post by Doug Nash » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:15 pm

Again for your reading pleasure, here's the review of the book that appeared in Time Magazine way back in January 1971, back when Time still had standards.

Monday, Jan. 25, 1971

Up the Down Steppes


By Melvin Maddocks

THE FORGOTTEN SOLDIER
by Guy Sajer. Translated from the French by Lily Emmet. 465 pages. Harper & Row. $8.95.

If the ultimate snobbery is the snobbery of pain, the ultimate snob may be the vanquished German soldier—Siegfried, in the agony of defeat, singing a prouder tenor than his enemies can manage in victory.

In the autumn of 1942, Guy Sajer, 16, the French-speaking son of a German mother, cockily double-timed into Russia to help recharge the Third Reich's blitzkrieg on the steppes. Less than two years later he staggered out half alive with the remnant of the once-elite Gross Deutschland Division. Even in this debacle he has found—25 years later—an eminence to lay claim to. He is an elitist in surviving hardships.

"I have never met anyone better able to stand punishment than the Germans," Sajer writes. Obviously he believes that Germans never took more punishment than in the Russian campaign. His self defined mission: "To reanimate with all the intensity I can summon those distant cries from the slaughterhouse."

But blood-and-guts reportage is not enough to explain why The Forgotten Soldier has been a bestseller in France and Germany, or why Sajer so belatedly wrote it. Beneath its artillery-barrage surface hides another war—the struggle, equally intense though never acknowledged, between an autobiographer's impulse to confess and his impulse to self-justify. With a kind of death grip, Sajer holds on to his reader, simultaneously appealing to him for absolution and denying his right to judge. He pictures the reader sitting in an armchair by the fire, curled up in a comfortably moral position. Out of anguish, out of arrogance, he pulls him down into his hell. What he is finally saying is: Don't judge me, be me.

Despite a Teutonic tendency to grandiloquence and repetition, Sajer is brutally effective. He puts lice on that armchair reader, gives him an empty belly, and sticks him in a frozen mudhole. He loses him in the endless space of that "accursed Russian plain." He makes him feel the ache of the Russian winter, 35-40° below zero—the temperature at which, when a soldier urinated, three or four of his fellows thrust their cracked hands under the stream for momentary warmth.

Sajer crams the reader into a truck next to a living corpse with his head half blown off. refusing to die. He makes him hold down a man's leg while a surgeon saws it off. He forces him to wait in a trench while waves of Russians charge, shouting "Ourrah!" until fear "reduced every conviction to nothing."

The places have names: Belgorod, Kharkov, Kiev. Catastrophe follows catastrophe. But finally, like war itself, The Forgotten Soldier obliterates time and space into a pure throbbing pain whose only limit is death or madness.

Yet the book is far from a tract for pacifism. If Sajer has created a hell worthy of Dante, his reaction to it is curiously mixed. "Peace has brought me many pleasures," he writes, "but nothing as powerful as that passion for survival in wartime, that faith in love, and that sense of absolutes. It often strikes me with horror that peace is really extremely monotonous. During the terrible moments of war one longs for peace with a passion that is painful to bear. But in peacetime one should never, even for an instant, long for war!"

The book's most unconvincing passages occur when Sajer, on Berlin leave, falls in love with a little rose-and-cream operetta type named Paula. He is far more credible when he writes of buddies like the huge, permanently hungry Hals: "We discovered a comradeship which I have never found again."

Sajer can write flowery asides to the non-German civilian: "Shall I ever deserve pardon? . . . Can I ever forget?" But his real peer group then—and now —is that absolutely disciplined iron man, the German soldier. As an Alsatian (he even wrote his memoir in French), he admires with the special fervor of the semi-outsider.

When he met the Americans, he scorned them for their casualness. Their uniforms were "like golfing clothes," they chewed gum "like ruminating animals" and, worst of all German sins, they were "indifferent to their victory."

The Forgotten Soldier is finally the account of a disastrous love affair with war and with the army that, of all modern armies, most loved war. Though the affair ended badly, there has been nothing to rival it in the three decades since. Permanently Gefreiter Sajer, G., 100/1010 G4., permanently disqualified for peace, he is a soul as devastated as a Russian battlefield and he knows it. He concludes: "I have stayed as I am, without regret, separated from the normal human condition"—an elitist in defeat as he surely would have been in victory. But to his reader, this Sajer, doomed to survival, may be as moving an argument against war as all the corpses he unflinchingly bears witness to.
Abbott: This sure is a beautiful forest.
Costello: Too bad you can't see it for all those trees!

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Statement from Uffz. Hans Wegener

Post by Doug Nash » Sat Aug 30, 2008 3:36 pm

Here's an interesting statement from Herr Hans Wegener, former Unteroffizier of the Wehrmacht-Heer, when he was asked about his opinion of the book, The Forgotten Soldier.

Statement from Hans Wegener, dated 2 October 1996.

"I am a veteran of World War II, Born 1923, fought in places such as the East between Donez and Dniepr. (In the same time frame as when Sajer served on the Eastern Front)

Since 1945 I have read numerous writings about World War II. In addition I am knowledgeable about literature from World War I: Juenger, Zoeberlein, Remarque, Ettinghofer, George Blond, and Beumelburg and the World War II literature of Croixelles, Engermann, Carell, Kurowski, Koch, Thompson, and Gert Ledig; - just to mention a few.

I believe myself to be able to distinguish if it is a fictitious portrayal or if it is something experienced, and furthermore, determine about the work, the contents of truth, the inner truth and the completeness.

I read Sajer's book already in the early '70s.

Guy Sajer's book "Denn dieser Tage Qual war gross" depicts something personally experienced, and very specifically from the point of view of a human being who is half French and who's other half is German. The depicted deeds and events are internally determinant and correspond even with the minute tactical and greater strategical events of the period described in the book. The language is of overpowering simplicity yet extremely smooth and impressive. The train of thought and reflections correspond to those of a young soldier, who is tossed into the maelstrom of the hard suffering and hopeless retreat battles of the Eastern front. I can verify that: The regular soldier thought this way, he acted this way and suffered and died in the pitiless retreat actions on the gigantic expanses of Russia, which in itself gave you a feeling of loneliness and loss if faced single handedly as an individual human being or as a single fighter.

Even small inconsistencies cannot change my belief, because the overall impact of the manuscript, the inherent balance and truthfulness, are for me the determining criteria.

I am quite sure that Guy Sajer did not tell a fictitious story.

I look at this book as a tremendous monument for the huge and single achievements of the German soldier during a hopeless situation."

Former Unteroffizier, 39th Infantry Div. - after its demise in Russia, assigned to 272nd Infantry then Volkgrenadier Div.

Campaigns: Russia (1942-1943), Normandy (1944), Huerten Forest (1944-45)
Awards: EKII, Black Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge in Silver
Abbott: This sure is a beautiful forest.
Costello: Too bad you can't see it for all those trees!

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Frederick L Clemens » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:05 pm

"The depicted deeds and events are internally determinant and correspond even with the minute tactical and greater strategical events of the period described in the book."

A lovely sentence - but, sorry, we have demonstrated that in multiple cases, this is simply not true. A hundred thousand German veterans could tell me Sajer's 2 plus 2 equals 5, I still will not believe it.

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by David N » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:17 pm

Frederick L Clemens wrote:
David N wrote:In fact, "All Quiet on the Western Front" was heavily criticized when first published in Germany for being "innacurate and untruthful." For example, the publishers hinted that All Quiet was autobiographical, which it actually was not. This resulted in considerable effort being made during the late Twenties and early Thirties to investigate Remarque's own war record. Remarque was recorded to have been at the front during June-July 1917. He was in a hospital from August 3, 1917 to October 31, 1918. By contrast, the narrator of All Quiet seems to have been in infantry combat from 1916 until his death in October 1918. Also, "Paul Baumer" was depicted as an eager volunteer, while Remarque was a conscript. Remarque was always reluctant to give interviews, let alone provide precise information about his war career. Sound familiar?...
Correct me if I am wrong, but the attacks on Remarque were not so much focused on factual errors of the many varieties we find in Sajer's book, but rather a reaction against the "defeatist" nature of the book. Remarque did not claim it as autobiographical - obviously he gave the protagonist a different name! Sajer, on the other hand, has the main character named after himself which leads to the obvious conclusion that it is intended to be a factual autobiography and therefore every item presented as factual information in his book is fair game for scrutiny.
While "All Quiet on the Western Front" was sold as fiction, the publishers and many reviewers claimed it to be "true to life" and "realistic." The attacks on Remarque were in large part, that he was not a soldier who had experienced what he had written about. Remarque was criticized as a "phony," along with errors of detail, just as Sajer has been. Again, Remarque never did clear up the controversy about his own war record.

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Frederick L Clemens » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:35 pm

David N wrote:While "All Quiet on the Western Front" was sold as fiction, the publishers and many reviewers claimed it to be "true to life" and "realistic." The attacks on Remarque were in large part, that he was not a soldier who had experienced what he had written about. Remarque was criticized as a "phony," along with errors of detail, just as Sajer has been. Again, Remarque never did clear up the controversy about his own war record.
Again, you are criticizing Remarque on the basis of what others claimed, not he himself. Remarque never it was other than fiction, and therefore he is free to write about things he did not experience, like any writer of a novel.

It would help if you could provide an example of Remarque's supposed errors that are similar to Sajer. Here are some Sajer categories you can refer to:
- an infantryman not knowing the basics of his own weapons
- an infantryman being an expert in aircraft identification
- an infantryman claiming to have volunteered for a specific flight unit commanded by a personality who only later became a well-known commander
- an infantryman who gets the time of year mixed up for major battles, that is someone who forgets whether the weather was scorching heat or numbing cold
- an infantryman who doesn't know which sleeve he wore his elite insignia on, even though he was wearing that uniform day after day for years
- an infantryman who is vague about his location or unit in some cases, but precise like a general staff officer in others
- an infantryman who provides strategic briefings to his reader, including troop totals and casualties along a broad front

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Forward to the French Edition

Post by Doug Nash » Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:12 pm

What has been missing from the English language editions of the book is the introduction written by the original publisher, Editions Robert Laffont. It provides a bit more background to Sajer and where he came from. Why this was never included has never been explained, but does fill in some of the gaps. Here's the english translation (First time ever, as far as I know):

About the Author

His father is French, from the Central Massif, his mother is German, she comes from Saxony. According to the telling of his father, who was a frontline soldier in the First World War, the Germans were monsters: they would cut off the hands of children. He is already fourteen, when he sees the first German soldiers; in June 1940, in Loiret, where the Wehrmacht overtakes the flood of refugees. These German soldiers seem to him to be magnificent warriors, supermen. Guy is transfixed; he admires the Germans, but at the same time quakes in fear because he expects them to cut his hands off.

Rather than cutting his hands off, the German give him something to eat and to drink. Along with his family, he returns to Wissembourg in Alsace, where his family had settled a few years before the war.

Alsace has been reincorporated into the greater German Reich. He first comes to a youth camp in Strassbourg, then to another youth camp [across the Rhine] in Kehl. Then follows the Arbeitsdienst, but that’s not for him. He and his comrades envy the young Germans of their same age, who, in the uniform of the Hitler Youth, are preparing themselves for their upcoming wartime adventures. They would give God knows anything to be able to join them, if only they could feel themselves to be as worthy as these Hitler Youth.

Then it’s his turn – the German military machine takes its course. He is called up, and becomes an assistant driver with the supply troops. It is not the Luftwaffe or the combat troops, that he dreamed about and where he hoped to distinguish himself – even he dreamed this. But despite this disappointment, it is still the Wehrmacht. From the fall on 1942 onwards, he finds himself in Russia - in Russia, where the great outcome of the war will be decided. In May 1943 – he is 17 years old – he is accepted into the elite division Grossdeutschland, and he marches in its ranks until the end, until the end of the agony.

He came back home from this agony, marked forever, marked by experiencing unending suffering and [having seen] too much death.

But despite everything, he had believed in an idea, to fight for a great idea, and then he was told, that he had fought for nothing, that his comrades had died for nothing – even worse: all for a undertaking that had been condemned by the entire world. He could not understand it, but he had to learn, that no one would understand him, that no one even wanted to listen to him. He was alone with his story, with his experience.

In 1952, when he was suffering from an illness, he began to write down the true history of his youth, in a school notebook . . . He lived his own life again, day by day, and wrote it all down, step by step . . . After five years, it had grown to 17 notebooks, written in pencil, illustrated by exact drawings – so that nothing would be lost. Seventeen notebooks that he dragged around everywhere he went and more than once wanted to destroy. Some of his friends read it and were able to convince him to allow extracts to be published in a Belgian periodical. Then one day these volumes came to us; here they are.

You will find the style perhaps startling. It is not that of a writer; it is that of a man, who, in his words and pictures, sometimes awkward, perhaps grandiose, but always possessing of a peculiar power, is trying to say something, that has never been said before.
Abbott: This sure is a beautiful forest.
Costello: Too bad you can't see it for all those trees!

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Rudi S. » Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:47 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with the contents of Doug's Post.
From my own experience, I can say that, as a plain landser, that I did not always know what really was going on. For example, during the Battle of Narva, we were called Kampfgruppe Böhrend - we, at least I, never knew that we were made part of Kampfgruppe "von Strachwitz". During the "Practice attack", I saw Graf v. Strachwitz talking to our Commander Hauptmann Böhrend. As far as we were concerned, we belonged to the KG Böhrend while at the Narwa Front.
Rudi S.

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by B Hellqvist » Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:51 am

Fog of war is one thing while in the thick of it, but I for one can live with Sajer's strategic briefings if they help the reader get the bigger picture. I've mentioned Gottlob Biedermann's "In Deadly Combat" before, which is a memoir where the author goes to great pains to place his experiences in a bigger context. It is a matter of style, with some authors writing what they saw and leave it at that, while others try to understand what they saw and to explain it for the reader. Sajer tries both. If real WW2 veterans find the experiences described in "The Forgotten Soldier" to correspond with their own, then TFS is "true" on one level. The problem that has arisen is probably partly caused by the marketing of the book - both the English Cassell paperback edition and the Swedish edition have the subtitle "War On the Russian Front - A True Story". Those of us who look for other truths, like claims in the book checking out with known historical facts, have been tearing our hair over all the discrepancies. So when it comes to the claims in the book, some of them cannot be true, while others are within the realm of possibility even if they are unlikely. One has to remember that the book wasn't written by an aging vet 50-60 years after the war, but that it was penned less than ten years afterwards, while memories would be (all too) fresh. Can the faults in the book be the result of traumatisation? Some episodes have a nightmarish quality, and where some readers see fabrications, others can see a mind damaged by war. It explains the emotional impact of the book, but also the frustation it causes when some situations are clearly not compatible with historical fact. It is possible that a another editor would've prompted Sajer, and that the end result had been more coherent, but that's one thing we'll never know.

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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Annelie » Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:11 am

For me when I read a memoir that is exactly how I read it, their experiences and how they percieved what happened to them and why perhaps.

There all many factual historical books out there some written by members of the forum if one is looking for that rather than dissceting a memoir and trying to analyze every bit of information given by the author whom as others have said may not have known the whole at their level .

When Gerhard, HaEn or Rudi speak about their experiences I believe what they are saying to be true to them.

Yesterday I spoke to a Veteran whom was captured and placed in a Russian pow camp, I listened to his experience and I was happy that he felt comfortable to speak about them without my asking. These Veterans are getting older and fewer and I cannot see why we have to ask them to research and verify everthing they say, after all it is about their experiences.

Most Veterans whom I have spoken to have always said they tried and put the war experience out of their mind and their only thought was to move on and later upon reflection did they try and put into perspective what they went through.
They all said however, they think about their comrades and how important they were to them.
Last edited by Annelie on Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by Doug Nash » Sun Aug 31, 2008 4:15 am

Rudi, it's great to hear from you - it's always a pleasure to have an actual GD veteran join in on the conversation, as you provide a perspective that many of us in the post-WW2 generation lack.
I've added the map here so that others who hadn't seen it could have an opportunity to examine it in greater detail.
Cheers,
Doug
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scan0020.jpg
Map from original French 1967 Edition
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Abbott: This sure is a beautiful forest.
Costello: Too bad you can't see it for all those trees!

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B Hellqvist
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Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2004 9:22 am
Location: Sweden

Re: "The Forgotten Soldier" by Guy Sajer

Post by B Hellqvist » Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:07 am

I suppose that the original map - which differs from the maps found in both the English and Swedish editions - is one that was approved by Sajer, perhaps even made by him (or after a sketch). It is interesting that Konotop is left out, and that the crossing of the Dnieper after the battles of Kursk (or Belgorod...) and Konotop is more close to Kremenchug than one can glean from the text. The bulk of GD fought a rearguard action at Kremenchug. In the words of Sajer himself: "I have never had more than a very approximate idea of our movements and centers of operation, and would certainly be incapable of drawing an accurate diagram of the front at any point of the war.” The map is a testament to that.

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