Review of the Forgotten Soldier

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Many people question if Guy Sajer, author of The Forgotten Soldier, is an actual person or only a fictitious character. In fact, Guy Sajer in not a nom de plume. He was born as Guy Monminoux in Paris on 13 January 1927. At the ripe young age of 16, while living in Alsace, he joined the German army. Hoping to conceal his French descent, Guy enlisted under his mother's maiden name-Sajer. After the war Guy returned to France where he became a well known cartoonist, publishing comic books on World War II under the pen name Dimitri. The Forgotten Soldier is not a book concerning the tactics and strategy of the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War. Nor does it analyze Nazi ideology and philosophy. Instead, it describes the life of a typical teenage German soldier on the Eastern Front. And through this examined life, the reader receives a first hand account of the atrocious nature of war. Sajer's book portrays the reality of combat in relation to the human physical, psychological, and physiological condition. Guy Sajer was a half-German, half-French teenager who joined the Wehrmacht in order to be part of something magnificent. He begins his novel in the Chemnitz barracks on 18 July 1942 in hopes of becoming a JU-87 pilot. After failing the mandatory Luftwaffe tests, however, he is sent to basic training in the infantry. Although Sajer describes infantry life as less amusing, his spirits are high. He is issued a brand-new uniform and first class boots and soon makes his first comrades. Sajer proclaims to be exhausted due to severe physical challenges, yet is overwhelmed with a sense of joy he cannot understand. It would not be long, however, that he soon experienced numerous atrocities which forced him to ... ... middle of paper ... ...ings by then, whose memories, fears, and enthusiasms should not be remembered." Thus, unlike the title suggests, this remarkable war memoir is not about one soldier. Instead it refers to the entire German army who were defeated by the Allies. Although the German cause was very controversial, these gentlemen bravely fought for their country. Many men died, many were mutilated, and many more had to forever live with the atrocities they encountered. At war's end, however, they were merely "forgotten" for their failure of success. And although The Forgotten Soldier is an astonishing account of the horrors of infantry warfare, it serves a much greater purpose. It allows the historian to glance into the German experience and realize they too were young men fighting because their nation called upon them, and they deserve to be remembered for such a courageous act.
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