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The Forgotten Soldier

4.33 of 5 stars 4.33  ·  rating details  ·  4,985 ratings  ·  258 reviews
This book recountsthe 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 ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published August 4th 1993 by The Orion Publishing Group Ltd. (first published 1967)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mark
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 orde ...more
Johnny
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 jingo
...more
Amit
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 belong 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,
...more
Banafsheh Serov
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 abo
...more
james
This is a very powerful book; it's not for the squeamish. The author was a teenager who enlisted in the German army in 1942, and following basic training, was sent to the Eastern front as a truck driver. In 1943 he volunteered to become an infantryman in the elite Gross Deutchland division in exchange for a one week leave in Germany. He went to Berlin but found life there little different from the war zone in the Ukraine: daily bombing (from the American Air Corps) and little food.

Sajer returned
...more
Ben
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 ...more
Robin Webster
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 batt ...more
KOMET
I read Sajer's story 20 years ago and I was deeply impressed by it. He was among those Alsatians who joined the Wehrmacht following the incorporation of Alsace (one of France's eastern regions) into the Third Reich following France's defeat in June 1940. Sajer himself is of French and German parentage.

Since the time I read this book, questions have been raised as to its authenticity. Be that as it may, Sajer's descriptions of serving both with an anti-partisan and later with an elite infantry u
...more
Joseph
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 ...more
Jerry Auld
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?
Everything!
The Eastern front in all it's horrible form.
This i
...more
Jeff Dawson
Brilliant account of the Eastern Front

This is one of most gut-wrenching first-hand accounts of the Eastern Front I’ve read. Mr. Sager does more than an excellent job in describing the brutality and hopelessness he and his Komrades endured in Russia. He puts the reader with his squad, feeling and seeing everything they are enduring.

His description of driving a convoy from Kharkov to the trapped Sixth Army at Stalingrad sets the tempo of this work. Who would think being a convoy driver could be s
...more
Dergrossest
A descent into hell as we read about an ethnic German from France who joins the Wehrmacht in 1943 and is promptly sent to the Eastern Front. Talk about bad timing. Things quickly go from bad to worse as you follow him retreating back to Fatherland with the broken remnants of the Master Race. Hard to feel sorry for any of the Krauts in WWII, but this is as close as you will get. Great book.
Steve
Read this one back in the early 70s. I'd like to read it again. It was great, though I was never quite sure if I was reading an autobiography or a novel. It's marketed as non-fiction, but there are passages that struck me as fiction. Really good fiction. As in literature.
Eric Hall
I read this book while enduring Officer Candidate School.

If you want to read a story about what war is really like, then read this book. The author lived it and he does a very good job of reliving it for you through his writing.

It's not the normal story about WWII that you see here in the US. Mr. Sajer is in the German army and spends a good deal of time on the eastern front.

The descriptions are vivid, the fear is palpable.

Mr. Sajer basically says in the book that you cannot appreciate just h
...more
Raymond
"The Forgotten Soldier," has been called, "All Quiet on the Western Front of World War II." It is that, both more and less. More - Guy Sajer has written a volume twice the length of, "All Quiet" It is a story - autobiography - largely untold of the experiences of German soldiers on the Russian front battling the Red Army and the Russian winter. Sajer's account compels close, deep interest. It is a most worthy effort but Sajer does not have the literary skills of Erich Remarque. (I read somewhere ...more
Handrick
"The war seemed to have turned me into a monster of indifference, a man witout feelings. I was still three months short of eighteen, but felt at least thirty-five. Now that I have reaches that age, I know better. Peace has brought me many pleasures, but nothing as powerful as the passion for surviving 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 ...more
carl  theaker

I read a review of this book around 1971 and my Dad and
I eagerly awaited its arrival at the library. We both
thought it was a great read.

It was one of the first popular 'from the German point of view'
stories available. The genre has grown quite a bit
since then.

Twenty years later in the early '90s, there was and perhaps
still is a controversy over whether the author is telling his
story or one that is, shall we say, a composite.

The debate is available, just search the web, I've
ready the book 2 or
...more
James
The author's experience was so grueling, and his telling of it so eloquent, that I felt drained when I finished reading this; to pick one detail that sums it up, he ends the book (this isn't a spoiler, since you know he had to survive to write it) by describing how when he finally got home after the war and walked up to his family's home, his mother didn't recognize the worn-out old man greeting her as the boy who had left home for the army a few years earlier.
Pete daPixie
Guy Sajer's story of his experiences in the German Army during WWII is just utterly incredible. The reader is taken through his tough training and eventual nightmare exploits on the Eastern front with the Gross Deutschland Divisions, all the way back to his home town after the war.
Probably the best WWII biog I've ever read.
Christoph Fischer
An amazing read, a truly horrifying account of World War 2 and how it was experienced by the soldiers. It is a very long and detailed personal account of a French-German soldier, giving gory details as well as very personal and honest accounts of what went on.
Very moving, thoughtful and intellegent, and very very sad.
Paul
Where to start? This book has affected me greatly. I did expect to be shocked, and did expect to read an account of some appalling experiences of a soldier fighting in the heart of an horrendously bloody and grisly conflict. But nothing could really prepare the reader for the overwhelming relentlessness of it all. This is a reading experience that should not be at all taken lightly.

Guy Sajer was a very young Alsatian (barely seventeen I think), of mixed Franco-German parentage, who finds himself
...more
Richard Simpson
This book ignores the numbers of regiments, divisions, and names of generals, and the pincer movements of armies because it is a story of a normal soldier on the ground in Russia, so is a personal interpretation of the terrible campaign in Russia.

The Wehrmacht in Russia made history poetic: the downfall was cold, very cold, bloody, senseless, and passionate. The empty Russian plains constituted a wasteland of existence in which opposing ideologies battled it out, and where human life meant littl
...more
Wendy
The Forgotten Soldier was first published in 1965, and concerns events that happened over 20 years previously, when the author was a teenager living in France who was drafted into the German army. The memoir has since become the subject of much criticism by historians who question much of the historical detail, especially with regards to troop movements and dates. Supporters of the work argue that historical facts of strategic troop movements can be found elsewhere, and that the strength of this ...more
Sli
Rijetko, ali zna se dogoditi, pročitam knjigu koja promijeni sve što sam znao, ili u ovom slučaju mislio da znam. "Zaboravljeni vojnik" je takva knjiga. Mučna i teška i strašna za čitanje. Ne mogu ni zamisliti kako je bilo sve to proživjeti i preživjeti. Sajer nam daje uvid u stranu koju je povijest izbrisala. Poznato je da povijest pišu pobjednici, upravo iz tog razloga ova pripovijest dobiva još više na težini, rekao bih čak i na tragikomičnosti.
Ukoliko želite saznati nešto o konkretnim kretan
...more
Claire
This is an interesting memoir of one (very) young Franco-German soldier's experiences on the Russian front during WW2; the events described beginning when Guy Sajar was only 16 years old. It was obviously written (possibly as a form of catharsis) many years later - there are sections which contain long speeches that are unlikely to have been recalled verbatim and were certainly (re)composed at a much later date, but, that small caveat aside, much of this account is a vivid, stark and horrific de ...more
Scott Martin
A good but tough memoir. It follows the life of a young half-French/half-German boy from Alsace who enlists in the Wehrmacht in late 1942 and all his subsequent actions up until the end of the war. He is sent to the Russian front, which is a brutal, unforgiving assignment, with death from the Soviets and the environment constantly surrounding him. While he avoided the hell that was Stalingrad, he did suffer through the battles of Kharkov and the long, slow, bloody retreat of the Germany Army acr ...more
Gerry
This book is nothing short of an amazing account of the overall "human condition" through war. I will not say that this is a "must read" for people in a general or overall sense, but for people interested in reading about military history, war, battles, and the ravaging experience of innocence in those poor lost souls of children and the elderly it certainly brings to the forefront their exodus along the battle lines as well. My last three books specifically dealing with military history have tr ...more
Shar Wallis
This book was an eye opener about the plight of the German foot soldier on the Eastern front in WWII. There was an unbelievable amount of suffering. It really amazed me that Sajer was able to survive some of the situations that he was in. Not just the fighting, but the cold and hunger are very real worries. You get inside Sajer's head and learn about hardships and fear a soldier on the losing side faces. He doesn't hold anything back (well there are a couple of incidents that he writes about tha ...more
Stefan
The Forgotten Soldier is an overwhelming, interesting, horrific, and realistic read that dwells on the experiences of a German infantryman and his true life stories and memories of the Russian campaign of the Second World War. This is an extremely worthwhile read because it enlightens the average reader on the often overlooked Eastern Front. This book has many gory, uncomfortable, and weird passages that describe the harsh and unmerciful Russian-German War. This book is amazing, readable, and ma ...more
Mark
This is a truly haunting account of life on the front line for a second world war soldier. The fact that this is a true story makes it even more remarkable.

Whether this genre appeals to you or not I urge you to read it simply for it's realism and detail. You will soon be engaged with this exceptional read. It has real pace right from the outset and is relentless till the very end.

It reads like a novel, such is the drama surrounding this man's life on the battlefield. Please don't be put off by t
...more
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Pen name of Guy Mouminoux
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“Only happy people have nightmares, from overeating. For those who live a nightmare reality, sleep is a black hole, lost in time, like death.” 33 likes
“War always reaches the depths of horror because of idiots who perpetuate terror from generation to generation under the pretext of vengeance.” 14 likes
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