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A German Deserter's War Experience by…
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A German Deserter's War Experience (1917)

by Anonymous

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A German Deserter's War Experience (1917) is ostentatiously by an anonymous German soldier who fought during the first 14 months of WWI. He then escaped to New York where he published a memoir serially in a local German-language newspaper. It was then translated into English by Julius Koettgen, who later sources incorrectly identified as the soldier himself. Julius Koettgen, the translator, was the head of an organization called "Friends of the German Democracy", a surrogate of the US government propaganda arm Committee on Public Information, whose aim was to influence public opinion about the war.

The memoir itself is very graphic with non-stop violence. It's not literary but is easy to read, if you can stomach the horrible conditions of trench warfare. It starts and end with the simple notions that war is bad, and escape was the best option.

The question remains, is this is an authentic memoir or propaganda? The details are so precise and specific it feels real, and for the most part there is no overt anti-German bias. I can find almost no critical study or commentary anywhere. Who was this soldier? Why didn't he come forward after the war? Given the translator's role in propaganda, and the book's narrative arch of laying down one's arms and escaping Germany, what should we think? It's an interesting literary mystery. Regardless a decent read for the details of trench warfare.

Read via LibriVox narrated by Lee Smalley. ( )
  Stbalbach | Dec 16, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anonymousprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Koettgen, JuliusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smalley, LeeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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