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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Soldier - not to be forgotten.
If like me you are a little nervous picking up books about war and think that they may only glorify the great scale of battles, victories and tactics then I would recommend the Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer. This book is a first person account of life on the eastern front from the perspective of a young, naive man, which simultaneously depicts the fall of nazi Germany...
Published on 26 Dec. 2003 by Adam

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good story, but...
This book wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be--a detailed account of a soldier's participation in the battle of Stalingrad. So, maybe that was my fault. The book reads a lot like "All Quiet on the Western Front", and Sajer does a good job, IMO, of describing the daily life of a "grunt". His accounts square with others that I have...
Published on 6 April 1999


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guy Sajer is alive and living in Paris, 4 Aug. 1997
By A Customer
Guy Sajer is alive and well and living in Paris. He is a well known newspaper cartoonist and has never tried to hide his identity- nor has he tried to promote it (why should he, he is well known in his own country). He has illustrated a number of books and comic books on military themes- and has a personal interest in U-boats. Folks that work in Paris military bookshops know him fairly well.

On the other hand, Sajer does not like to talk much about the Forgotten Soldier. He seems to like having an aura of mystery about him. Responding to claims he does not exist- he thinks this is very funny. But again, why should he even care about trying to prove he is real if the book sells so well, and he is very easy to find if you use half an ounce of brain power?

A while ago a US Military Historian wrote an essay claiming the book was fake. In my opinion this essay was very poorly researched. Many of the reasons cited can easily be attributed to the fact that the book was written in French for a French audience. Hence FRENCH military terms (like PM for machine pistol) were used. Again, why would anyone but a diehard enthusiast worry about such details? Certainly not the book publishers who really do not care to re-do a book which keeps selling just fine as is.

Other small details have been cited to prove Sajer is a fake: GD title on wring sleeve- well, figure how easy this is to screw up in translation, or have a 'know-it-all-editor' see that all the SS armbands are on one sleeve, so he changes it. I do not think Sajer has ever even read the English translation. It is sloppy scholarship to use details in a translation of a book to claim the book is a fake! You must go to the original French version and cite the text as written by the author.

As to the non-existence of some of the names used in the book, and the use of certain famous other units (such as a famous Stuka squadron). How many other war books use altered names for whatever reason? So what? This is no big deal.

Keep in mind that this book was written in France during a time when it was NOT a good idea to let people know you served with the Germans- and definitely NOT a good idea to let them know you served in an elite German unit- and a NO NO if you were in an SS unit. Think about this- it is rather important to keep this in mind. Why write a book that may well get you into trouble, under your own name, when it is very easy to take a fake pen name?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War is surreal. War is natural selection for the meek., 22 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
A lot of people have questioned whether this book is fiction or nonfiction.
Probably Sajer did fill in a few details with his imagination, but most of the events of this book ring true.
Sajer's book reminds me more of Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse 5", which was marketed as a science-fiction novel, but (apart from the aliens from outer space) was actually based on Vonnegut's real-life experiences in WWII. It was one of many books of that era in which American soldiers in WWII were for the first time portrayed not as all-powerful heroes, but as suffering human beings trying their best to survive a horrendous ordeal.
Sajer's book explains the reality of the Biblical prohecy "the meek shall inherit the earth".
Virtually all the survivors at the end of his story were the soldiers who were the best at keeping their heads down and staying alive and out of trouble; none of the best warriors in his group seem to have survived. In modern warfare, if you have the warrior's willpower to fight for your country, the chances of surviving are pretty small (unless you're just incredibly lucky, like Ernst Junger in "Storm of Steel").
The devastating ability of organized warfare to eradicate large numbers of warriors from the gene pool must surely be responsible for the continuous cycles of the rise and fall of warrior nations in human history.
And so it goes.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving, shocking, thought provoking., 24 Jan. 2003
This review is from: The Forgotten Soldier (Hardcover)
It is easy, when faced with the fact that 60 million people died as a result of the Second World War, to overlook the individual suffering and hardship endured by people on all sides of the conflict.
Books like 'The Forgotten Soldier' help address that issue. Guy Sajer was a French national that fought for Nazi Germany during the Second World War. This does not help one to feel a great deal of empathy towards him, but in the early chapters of the book he does explain why he decided on this course of action. As the book progresses we are thrown into a world which in the early days of the war were full of hope for the Nazis, safe in the belief that a quick and decisive victory was within reach. Even so these times of hope are intertwined with horrific images of dead, dying and injured Russian soldiers, which Sajer describes vividly and shockingly. He in no way glorifies these scenes which first put a human face on the 'Bolshevik' enemy he had been brought up to hate. Indeed they helped humanise his enemy and also bought a grudging respect from him. They also introduced him into the reality and horror of war.
As the war progresses and the inevitability of Nazi Germanys' defeat dawns of Sajer and his fellow soldiers he manages to put into words the scenes of desperation that surrounded them. Trapped on an every retreating Eastern Front, Sajer tries to explain how the majority of ordinary infantryman were not fighting any longer for a deep seated political or ideological belief, but merely for the survival of themselves, and the friends which they had fought and suffered alongside. It is when Sajer, in this hopeless position and believing he will die (as the Russian soldiers he drove past in triumph in the early part of the war surely did) that we can see the futility and horror of war.
I do not believe Sajer wrote this book for any other reason than to exorcise the ghosts that lived with him every day since the war finished. But it does give us a valuable insight the mindset of a desperate and terrified army as well as a first person account of how war can change a human being. Books such as these are essential reading for any person who has an interest in warfare and the physical and psychological effect it has on people.
Sajers' writing at no point tries to justify what Hitler and the Nazi party tried to achieve through the Second World War. Quite the opposite, The point where Sajer finally realises that his Fuehrer has been lying to him for years and the despair he suffers because of this is pivotal. Before this he had still believed that the war may be won and Hitler would be able to reverse the fortunes of a doomed army. It helps to show us the influence that Hitler had over his people and his army. This by no means justifies the atrocities carried out in the name of the Nazi party and their Fuehrer. But does give us a glimpse into the hearts and minds of the many German soldiers who believed only in Hitler and who could not believe the stories of mass killings and war crimes, until they saw it with their own eyes.
Anyone who has even a passing interest in the Second World War should read this book. It provides us with a view of a world hopefully long gone, never to be seen again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A soldier of the Reich documents his Russian campaign, 19 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Forgotten Soldier (Paperback)
Guy Sajers' book The Forgotten Soldier is, in my view THE definitive book about the Eastern Front of WWII. The terror, horror and the casual cruelty of war is all documented here. This account differs because it is written by a foot soldier, about soldiers. We can only marvel at their capacity to survive such warfare. Written by a soldier of the German army, it documents exactly the shambles which ensued as the Russians closed in, and the desperate flight to surrender to the Americans. No other narrative comes close to documenting the bitter cold, the carnage of the constant artillery attacks, and the terror of vicious, no quarter combat with the Russian hordes, and even worse treatment by Communist partisans.
He endures training in the Gross Deutschland, where instructors will casually shoot those who fail to make the grade
Our soldier at the end is devoid of all feeling, except to survive.
The narrative flows so that it is impossible to put down. If the reader has a good map of Russia they can follow the action. I make no moral judgements as to the rights or wrongs of war, - this is a soldiers' story. Millions died in all theatres of WWII, and for untold numbers, their only memorial is in narratives such as this.
A "must read" for any student of 20th century history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal, 20 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Forgotten Soldier: War on the Russian Front - A True Story (Paperback)
One of the most emotive books I have ever read, Guy Sajer's "The Forgotten Soldier" tells the shocking story of what the eastern front was like for the standard German soldier.

It begins with his basic military training at a German army training school during the beginning of 1942, but quickly moves on to tell his experiences as a driver on one of the gigantic supply convoys, tasked with re-supplying the forces isolated in northern Russia. He eventually ends up joining the GrossDeutschland panzergrenadier regiment and thereafter tracks the torturous retreat back westwards away from the unstoppable red army.

The book shows how the worsening situation caused by the high command effected the common soldier in more ways that imaginable, ranging from the simple lack of allotted leave to the sudden scarcity of any decent sanitary facilities and the ensuing disease and degradation that it caused. It also shows how the humanity of the German soldier, the fact that they were not simply bloody minded killing machines and how they felt pain in suffering just as much, if not more, that any other soldier in the Second World War.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An ordinary soldier's experiences of World War 2, 22 July 2011
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This review is from: The Forgotten Soldier: War on the Russian Front - A True Story (Paperback)
Most books about war are written either by senior officers, historians, or heroes. But wars, and especially World War 2 are mostly fought by ordinary people. This book was recommended to me by an old soldier who had been at Dunkirk, Anzio, and Monte Casino. His comment was that although this is about a different army, on a different front, it was the closest book to the true experience of war that he had seen. That's the best recommendation of any.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book., 5 April 2014
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It is a great pity I can not find other books by Guy Sajer.This is the fourth time I have read this true account written by a soldier "Who was actually THERE".It makes for fantastic reading,really draws you in,when I read this book I feel as though I am stood right next to him reliving what can only be described as Hell on Earth!!! It is a fascinating insight into the atrocities the German army suffered on the eastern front.It makes a very refreshing read to read about a run of the mill soldier and not about the SS or Gestapo but about the living hell of a normal soldier foot slogging across Russia in unimaginable circumstances.I strongly recommend you read this book,it should be on everyone's bucket list.AS I said earlier this is the fourth time I have read it and I still can not put it down when I pick it up. Magnificent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrors of War, 1 Nov. 2004
By A Customer
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It's not so much the horrors of explosions or shrapnel or carpet bombing that makes this young mans story so incredible. For me, it's the realisation that humanity was devoid wherever Sajer went and war made people turn into pragmatic animals who really only thought about themselves. The funny thing is though, that you can easily find yourself 'siding' with people who are intent on doing horrific deeds in the name of war.
Personally, I found myself 'siding' with the Russian Partisans at one point even though they were just as horrific as the Germans. It's not very often that a book can make you feel a range of emotions like this one can.
Even if you have a passing interest in war, this book will captivate you and give you an insight into what a hell war actually is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Look inside the mind of a soldier in combat, 20 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
Guy Sajer has provided the world with a stunningly graphic, heartfelt account of war as experienced by young men in the worst imaginable conditions. I have made this book a "must read" for my junior officers. Nothing I have read before compares to the horrors of war that Sajer brings out in this work. Through a careful study of this book, leaders can learn a great deal about why soldiers press on when chaos and fear abounds. The most basic examination will reveal the truths about the reasons young soldiers fight in the face of overwhelming odds, the way youngsters see leaders, and the mental/physical struggles soldiers endure beyond what the leadership can see. Simply a marvelously insightful book no leader should ignore.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affirming!, 29 Jun. 2004
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This review is from: The Forgotten Soldier (Paperback)
What more can be said about this book? It truly is amazing. I read it about 5 years ago and still to this day find myself thinking about it at least every few weeks. And in regards to those of you who briefly scan the internet and support the half baked theory that its all fiction, i ask you to research beyond a brief read of one man rather ignorant questioning.
Read this book, I am by no means easily shocked but some things contained here made me stop reading, at least until i could get my head around what had happened and my thoughts in order.
Don't use this as a bible for military historical accuracy, use this as a guide to humanity in extremes. Of horror, of heartache, of hope
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