A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944

A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944 Book Cover A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944
Willy Peter Reese
Memoir
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
2005
Hardcover
208

This is  a short book, but nonetheless rather difficult to read.  Why?  The book is a rather tedious memoir by a young German infantryman in WWII, based on his personal journal (the soldier himself did not survive the war).  The book is full of--actually consists almost entirely of--the wartime ponderings of a supposedly sensitive, educated, and cultured German youth.  The problem is that these ponderings reveal the author as an arrogant, culturally oblivious, wanna-be intellectual who does not doubt the German superiority over the Russians.

Here are a couple of passages chosen at random which should give a good feel for this book:

"I lived in the dark.  Ghosts lurked everywhere.  Fear, disappointment, and a continual grief marked my sorry path.  It was better then to believe in the most fleeting dreams than to be helplessly at the mercy of doubt and uncertainty."

"In our mess tins, remnants of food decomposed.  We hid all clocks; time didn't move.  Waiting became a torment.  It wore us out.  Everything lost meaning and purpose, and we longed for the relief of conflict."

Meh.  Apparently this book was something of a sensation when it came out in Germany--go figure.  I strongly recommend giving this book a pass.

Tedious and Very German...
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