read online eBook Le Soldat oublié By Guy Sajer –

Forgotten Soldier recounts the horror of World War II on the eastern front, as seen through the eyes of a teenaged German soldier At first an exciting adventure, young Guy Sajer’s war becomes, as the German invasion falters in the icy vastness of the Ukraine, a simple, desperate struggle for survival against cold, hunger, and above all the terrifying Soviet artillery As a member of the elite Gross Deutschland Division, he fought in all the great battles from Kursk to Kharkov Sajer's German footsoldier’s perspective makes The Forgotten Soldier a unique war memoir, the book that the Christian Science Monitor said may well be the book about World War II which has been so long awaited Now it has been handsomely republished containing fifty rare German combat photos of life and death at the eastern front The photos of troops battling through snow, mud, burned villages, and rubblestrewn cities depict the hardships and destructiveness of war Many are originally from the private collections of German soldiers and have never been published before This volume is a deluxe edition of a true classic

10 thoughts on “Le Soldat oublié

  1. Mark Mark says:

    The best War Memoir I've ever read! Heart breaking, brutal, real, lyrical, depressing, insightful, and in some ways familiar - I simply loved this book. Guy Sajer tells his story as a young half french, half german boy joining the Wermacht in 1942. His story spans his journey from Germany to Poland for training in the transportation Corps and then to the east in the winter of '42 to resupply the German Army at the Don river. Later he joins the Gross Deutschland division as an infantryman in order to qualify for some leave and participates in many of the big battles of the eastern front. He was a soldier in the German army 67 years ago but, some of his descriptions of life as a soldier in a combat zone ring true to my own experiences. His storytelling is lyrical and heartbreakingly real. He's honest about his inadaquacies as a soldier - he doesn't recast his war experiences to make himself out to be a hero - and he doesn't shy away from describing his early fanatacism about the ideals of the third Reich and then his later disillusionment (based at least partly on his realization that being french - his dad was french and he was raised in france - he wouldn't ever really fit in with his german komeraden). His vivid descriptions of the Russian landscape, combat against the Bolsheviks, the bombings of cities in Germany and their aftermath, are amazing.

    This is a beautiful, painful, brutal book that anyone looking for a firsthand account of the horrors of combat and war should read. I've heard this referred to as a classic and I now know why.

  2. WarpDrive WarpDrive says:

    A beautiful page-turner, a masterfully written, heart-breaking, brutal, lyrical and memorable personal memoirs of a half-German, half-French young man involved in the WWII Ostfront.
    Posted to the elite Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, the protagonist is a first-hand witness to the brutality, heroism and viciousness experienced and carried out by both sides.
    Possibly the best WWII autobiographical book I have ever read about the Ostfront, this is a book that will stay with me for a long time. This is an amazing, intensely poignant book that leaves a mark in the soul of the reader, and I found it just impossible to put down: the catastrophic battle in the Memel bridgehead, the overwhelming immensity of the Russian tundra and steppe, the rigors of the climate, the camaraderie between the soldiers, the few moments of humanity interspersed with the brutality and unrelenting ferocity of war, and the finality of the pure fight for survival magnified by primeval fear, are all made unforgettable by the author.
    Very few books have managed to highlight so compellingly the human catastrophe, the life-changing brutality and the sense of hopelessness represented by war. It should be compulsory reading for all warmongers and mindless ultra-nationalists, old and new, who bawl “make (insert country here) great again”.
    A fully deserved 5-star. A must-read.

    PS: as an historical note, it is important to highlight that World War II losses of the Soviet Union were over 27 million, and over 80 percent of all German military casualties occurred on the Eastern Front. In Stalingrad, the average life expectancy of a Soviet soldier was 24 hours. It was Russia that broke the back of the formidable German Army, and this should not be forgotten.

  3. ᴀᴍɪᴛ ᴀᴍɪᴛ says:

    Writers like Sajer, will never allow the future generations to forget, the miseries of world war soldiers.

    World war two was fought by soldiers but described by soldiers cum writers; Sajer belongs to this rare breed; he accomplished this rare job by writing, under stressful circumstances and arranging the information, for future readers.

    Sajer did a fine job in describing, the situation and psychology of a foot soldier, respect and value of enemy, Morality of a losing infantry, Hate for partisans, Agony of dying comrades, Worries of families, Benevolence of seniors, Difficulty of weather, Hardship of immobility, Frustration of illness and much more.

    This is a very fine book for those, who want to read about the agonies and pain of German soldiers. This book gives altogether a different aspect of world war. This helps in understanding a crucial fact of war that .... the true enemy of, a man in war is .... the war itself!!

  4. Joseph Joseph says:

    There is no such thing as a “just war.” The concept of “just war” is something theologians like Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or academics argue. When it comes to real war and actual fighting theologians and academics are as “useless as tits on a boar hog.” Killing others and being killed is humankind at its most primitive. Fighting a war is deadly serious. Discipline, courage and a will to win are critical to success in war. Finding the guts to kill or be killed and to endure almost unbelievable hardship in unbelievable circumstances are too often absolutes for those who must fight.

    “The Forgotten War” by Guy Sajer is perhaps the best book I have ever read about what it is like to be a “grunt” on the front lines. In this case, a man who is 16 when he finds himself in the German Army and shortly thereafter on the Eastern or “Russian Front.”

    Sajer’s story recounts life on that Front. In a word it was brutal. Sajer saw many of his fellow soldiers killed in ways that I will not repeat except to say that there is enough real recounting of how people died to last me several lifetimes. I’m saying that as a 27 year Air Force vet who served two tours in Southeast Asia one of which was in Vietnam. My cousin “fought backwards” out of Chosin Reservoir with the Marines. My dad lost his best friend on Guadalcanal. My uncle, dad’s older brother, is buried in the Meuse Argonne. He was killed either by machine gun fire or artillery because his unit was not where they were supposed to be.

    The Eastern front was a killing ground, The Germans lost roughly 1.1 million killed, another million captured or MIA and almost 3.5 million wounded. Outside of the Taiping Rebellion and Cultural Revolution in China, I am unaware of casualties this numerous in a single front. Russian losses were greater. I’ve seen mass graves of Russian soldiers in Warsaw and Berlin and Polish military cemeteries in Warsaw. They overwhelmed me. Sajer tells me how they died.

    I note that there are a very small number of people who quibble with Sajer’s account suggesting that he didn’t always know where he was, what caliber weapons he was using and that he referred to a unit patch being on the wrong sleeve. They use these minutiae to suggest that his account is fictional or that he wasn’t really there. Ah, will just say that even with my 27 years in the Air Force and I cannot tell you today which side my unit patch went on. These attacks on Sajer are pure unadulterated crap. Interestingly, some are attributed to a US Army Lt Col who was at one of the Army’s “school houses” (specifically, the Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas). I’ll take Sajer’s word over that academic LtCol’s in half a heartbeat. Only a school house REMF (ah, rear echelon M____ F____)would worry about that. A real soldier, a special ops guy takes the school house REMF to task at the link below. As that Spec Ops guy notes:

    “Why should soldiers read books such as Sajer's? Simply, to read about what battle is like, what to expect and to find out just how bad it can get. Sure, there are many other more comprehensive books about the Russian Front than Sajer's in terms of troop movements, strategy and such. But, if a reader wants to know what it was like to be a Russian Front soldier, to be afraid, to fight alongside a band of brothers, then Sajer's is still one of the finest accounts and deserves to remain on professional military reading lists.” Lieutenant Colonel Douglas E. Nash

  5. Evan Evan says:

    We felt like lost souls, who had forgotten that men are made for something else, that time exists, and hope, and sentiments other than anguish; that friendship can be more than ephemeral, that love can sometimes occur, that the earth can be productive, and used for something other than burying the dead.”
    ― Guy Sajer, The Forgotten Soldier

    In 2016, I awarded Bruce Catton's A Stillness of Appomattox my first and only, personal Golden Holy Grail Award for perfection. Three years later, this book, The Forgotten Soldier is receiving my second. If you haven't marked this book on your to-read lists, I urge you to do so. It's a stunning powerhouse -- a hyper-realistic, unrelenting account of an Alsatian/German soldier's personal hell in the face of the unremitting awfulness of the Eastern front in World War II. It's written in clear, impactful but poetically reflective prose. It's everything I look for in a book and exhibits every reason why I read in the first place. It convinces me that every so-called leader with the power to send young people to war should either be forced to read it first, or have demonstrated personal experience in severe combat.

    Guy Sajer was only 16 when he entered the German army, eventually making it into the most elite regiment. The sheer suffering he witnesses and endures and shares with us is almost too much to bear over the course of the book. So much so, that one often has to put it down after a few pages to compose oneself and emotionally re-center.

    I knew there was controversy around this book, therefore I decided to dive into the book first before researching any of that. I wanted the book to make its case first. Because stolen valor is such a major issue in the circle of war experts and enthusiasts, not to mention basic expectations of historical accuracy, highly critical war readers have nitpicked the book's inconsistencies to the point of challenging Sajer's veracity. One of Sajer's staunchest critics eventually conceded and admitted his story was likely the truth. Others have not been so willing to relent. Nobody though, it seems, challenges the basic realities of warfare the Sajer drives home here in vivid detail. Ranks, protocols, locations, and all that ... I leave that to the experts. All I care about is the essential truth of the thing, the reflection and introspection of the speaker. In this, Sajer is breathless and impeccable.

    To pull quotes out of this would be impossible for me. Every page is rich with a terrible beauty. You want it to end, but, conversely, want the exquisite experience of reading the heart-aching, expressive prose to go on.

    It's one of the greatest books I've ever read -- possibly the greatest -- along with being the best war book I've experienced. And rather than say more, I'm going to go somewhere and thank the Fates, the Gods, and whomever, that I, and hopefully everyone else, haven't and will never have to experience what this man did.

    kr, eg '19

  6. Johnny Johnny says:

    Guy Sajer's account of life on the Eastern Front in World War II is a must read. If All Quiet on the Western Front left any mark upon you at all, this book will floor you. You will fully understand the brutality of war, the brutality of the Soviets and the Nazis. You will fully understand the brutal nature of total war and fierce nature of mankind who stoked and fed the machinations of World War.

    He's just a dumb kid in the beginning. He's an old man at the end.

    You'll never put up with jingoistic nonsense ever again.

  7. Ben Ben says:

    Through the eyes of Guy Sajer, I have rediscovered the putrid horror of war and the interminable depth of the human soul. Such a juxtaposition concerns me. In the flowing filth of destruction, can one glimpse the shimmer of the human quality? So many people allude to war as the pinnacle of evil within human nature. Undoubtedly, the mystifying magnitude of our destructive tendencies overwhelms our vision and guides us into stereotypical cognition of ideological evil and discontent. However, does this focus distract us from the humanity of it all?

    People fight wars. Hitler and Stalin and Roosevelt and Churchill had their agendas. But make no mistake, soldiers on all sides fought for one thing - their lives. Ideology burns like frail tissue paper under the fire of machine guns and anti-tank weaponry. On the field, men fight men. The war between Nationalist Socialism and democratic capitalism stayed in warm strategy rooms in the capitals. Set men against each other, and allow nature to take its course.

    Ultimately, Sajer tells of a soldier's epic psychological journey. Beginning with a fearful innocence facing interminable threats, it culminates into the carnal void of his existence. Sajer beautifully renders his story with the wisdom of his age and through the eyes of a young man faced with inhumane devastation. He offers insights into the human condition which, unfortunately, may not have surfaced outside of wartime circumstances. As the dread swelled, the man endured.

    What bliss to see a man survive the depths of hell on earth!

    What pride to know what the human soul can survive!

    Or, perhaps, Sajer remains on those battlefields, lying face down; his nose half submerged in a block of ice which has settled in the gasp of his open mouth. Perhaps the man who now walks among us entombs a deathly void in his bosom and only hears the agonized squealing of a newborn child entering a life of suffering. The psychological impact and emotional drought of war will not leave him and no federal counseling will heal him. He has become war. And in his sojourn, we, too, feel war; our own personal decay with him at Memel and on the Dneiper, the beauty of delusion regarding a lost love, a visceral sense of isolation at home because the man who called it home was left mummified in the snow.

  8. Banafsheh Serov Banafsheh Serov says:

    Stalingrad is lost and the German Army is no longer the formidable force which swept through Europe at the start of the war. In retreat, they are chased and hunted by the much larger Red Army.

    Sajer is a seventeen year old German soldier struggling to survive the onslaught from the Russian Army. Facing starvation,daily fear of enemy bombardment, disease, exhaustion,and the unforgiving Russian winter, Sajer's experiences are retold with chilling detail and brutal honesty.

    'Too many people learn about the war with no inconvenience...sitting in a comfortable armchair, with their feet beside the fire...One should really read such accounts under compulsion, in worst circumstances, when everything is going badly.'

    The Forgotten Soldier is not a comfortable read. There is no glory in war and the human cost is beyond comprehension. It brings to life the madness of war, its sheer senselessness and the legacy of those who lived through it.

    The Forgotten Soldier is a must read.

  9. Jerry Auld Jerry Auld says:

    Amazing, shocking, and unforgettable.
    This is the best book about WWII that you can find.
    Forget the U.S. involvement, or the British, or the French.
    Hell, I'm Canadian, but I always knew the real battle was in the East against the huge tank divisions of Germany and those of Russia.
    And yet... here is the infantryman's perspective.
    And not even a German, but a French man.
    Or boy, since Sajer was 17 when he was drafted in.
    And what did he see?
    The Eastern front in all it's horrible form.
    This is a read you won't be able to put down, not for the gore, but for the human reflection.
    Really! I recommend this to anyone who wants to know how bad it can get and how privileged we are (in 2012) and I dare you to put this book down.
    Even to the last chapter I was spellbound. No literary efforts: just the bold cold truth.
    And may Gad be thanked that I never had to go to war like this young man did!

  10. Robin Webster Robin Webster says:

    Guy Sajer was a sixteen year old boy in 1942 who was brought up in France by a French father and a German mother. After being drafted into the German army transport division he was sent to the Russian Front. He later volunteered to join a crack combat division called the Grosse Deutschland. This book describes his personal account of the two years he spent fighting on the Russian Front. He takes us on a journey through two brutal Russian winters, being bombarded by artillery, taking part in battles where his division was outnumbered sometime by thirty to one. He also describes clashes with partisans that are everywhere behind German lines. This is no glamorization of war. Sajer does a fantastic job of getting across the bonds between him and his comrades. He also gets across the terror of war and the feelings of utter exhaustion of troops that are being forced to continue to fight with diminishing resources beyond what most of us could be expected to endure. This is not a book that goes into great details about historic facts. It is a book about a young boy growing into manhood through a time of total war and how it affected him.