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The Forgotten Soldier

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  7,499 ratings  ·  408 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 508 pages
Published October 1st 2001 by Potomac Books (first published 1967)
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keith s sterling No there are no sex scenes at all in this book,but it has very descriptive war experiences in it.

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Feb 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military, history
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
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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,
May 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Joseph by: Gerry
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
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction, war
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
Banafsheh Serov
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Jerry Auld
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 i
Robin Webster
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Kamal Anwar
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: WWII, Ukraine
Out of the 50-ish war books I’ve read, this is top three!

The desperation and constant battering of missions that never end is relatable (in a lesser scale of course), while trying to sustain anything close to an individual personality in land of pure horrid.

Guy Sajer’s story and motives have been strongly debated, but this book should probably be read by anyone curious of how the human mind develops into a simple tool for the mighty (much like another Nazi tale in the Kindly Ones by Jonathan L
Jul 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
carl  theaker
Jun 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
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
Dec 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adolescents and adults
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.
Sean Chick
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"...pain is international."

These words are the central thrust of a book that asks you to pity the German soldier on the Eastern Front of World War II. It is not easy for many, considering the crimes committed, and for the well informed Sajer does not make it much easier. He believes in the anti-communist part of the cause, which is more understandable. Yet he is morally deaf to the carnage wrought by the Nazis. He even at one point has a good thing to say about Adolf Hitler.

Yet, pain is internat
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
Eric Hall
Mar 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
"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
Christoph Fischer
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, world-war-2
I enjoyed this book even though I had read some criticism. Sure there may be some areas that the author has muddled, but has also been implied he may have a bit to hide. With all that in mind this is still a read about a brutal time for a young man. For those that are considering reading this be warned though, it is long and the "action" is non stop.
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Read this a few years ago -- very poignant and moving, even intense. I'd place this on a level with All Quiet on the Western Front. Paul Baumer of All Quiet was a fictional character: a German soldier in WWI. This memoir concerns a German soldier in WWII--nonfiction. This is truly a forgotten gem, worthy of being more well-known.
Scott Williamson
I'm not sure how this book has escaped me for as long as it has. I've read 100s of war memoirs from WWII to Vietnam but none more striking and vivid as The Forgotten Soldier. This book lays aside political views and gives an unbridled account of a common foot solider fighting to stay alive over the course of 3 years and thousands of miles. The story begins with an exuberant, young (only 17), half German/half French soldier who's just completing his basic training in Poland. This young soldier re ...more
Akshay Gowda
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
words cannot describe. An intense first hand experience of WWII in eastern front given by GUY SAJER. even the hardest of all would be crushed and shaken while reading this book. it has shocking Brutality, Horrors of the war, Tragedy, Fear, pain, toughness, extraordinary courage of the German soldiers and their misery was beyond our comprehension.
the book Showed the Hell in which humans endured in WWII.
the book also uncovers shocking Brutalities beyond anything, massacre by so called ALLIES or SA
Meh. Honestly, I could probably have given this two stars but I think that my harsh criticism is at least in part due to the fact that I'm outgrowing the point in my life where military biographies will do it for me and I think that had this been more my cup of tea recently I would have rated it at least 4 stars. So I'll split the difference.

The best part of this book for me at this stage in my life was hearing the similarities between an average German soldier in WW2 and knowing how close his s
Jeff Dawson
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's good, not great. Needed an editor: much too long. Endlessly repetitive yet often psychologically dissociative. And far to many references to "I think the town was named 'such-and-such'"--could have made more of an effort to uncover the German or current Russian names. But, nonetheless, an impressive recounting of the horrors of the Russian front from an infantry perspective.


The most interesting aspect of the book (spoiler alert!) is the toward the end--he fought his way to Kiel, where he
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The real brutal tragedy of the german soldier who has to fight on the eastern front with its bombings, battles, frost-bites, starvation, retreats all experienced by a half french, half german Sajer.
As with every book of this kind everyone would tend to be a little skeptic that the actions portrayed actually took place. After research i will say there is just so much evidence pointing to Sajer being authentic and so little evidence pointing to him being a fraud that I will conclude that
Dhiraj Sharma
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A unique hardhitting memoir of War on the Eastern front.
No other book covers the sheer savagery of war between Germany and Russia as this book does.

The author (Guy Sajer) fought with the Grossdeustchland division of the German Army against the Russians and witnessed the horrors first hand. The hunger, sleeplessness, cold, depravity, tiredness and constant stuggle for survival take their toll on the soldier who is hardly out of his teens.

For anyone seeking the prespective of a common German sold
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
"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
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Around the Year i...: The Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer 1 21 Oct 23, 2016 01:50PM  
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Pen name of Guy Mouminoux
“Only happy people have nightmares, from overeating. For those who live a nightmare reality, sleep is a black hole, lost in time, like death.” 42 likes
“A day came when I should have died, and after that nothing seemed very important. So I have stayed as I am, without regret, separated from the normal human condition.” 20 likes
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