by Alexander Staritt
A young British man asks his German grandfather about his experiences in the war and gets no clear answers, but after the grandfather's death, a long letter is found addressed to his grandson which tells him the answers to his questions.
The grandfather was an ordinary foot soldier on the Eastern front, suffering not only the horrors of war but of decisions made by higher ups. He carries guilt for some things he had to do under orders and details out all the unpleasantness of what his life had become.
This is fiction and I have no way of knowing how close to factual experiences of German soldiers in WW2 it is or isn't, but it reads with plausibility and I was definitely gripped by the story. I generally avoid WW2 stories, but this was different because of the inside perspective of the side that lost, unlike the usual British and American films that glorify a horrendous state of affairs.
Most interesting was the very human side of the story as a group of soldiers get separated from their unit with no officer and have to make decisions for their own survival as well as considering accountability for their role in the war when eventually they get home, if they do.
Foraging for food, encountering others involved in the war on both their own side and the Russians brings a series of adventures. Near the end it gets rather intense with action, but there is also philosophising of an ordinary man who happened to be born at a time and place that would require he fight for the Nazi army and see his side lose, when all he really wanted was to go home and raise a family.
Very well written.