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To Die in Spring

by Ralf Rothmann

Walter and Fiete are two young men who assume that their involvement in World War Two will be as farmhands and nothing more. When they suddenly find themselves ‘volunteered’ into the Waffen-SS during the dying days of the war, they increasingly realise that Germany is losing and that war is both brutal and futile. This drifting and fragmented novel depicts German suffering and the legacy of guilt and fear in a very lyrical and subtle way.

Extract

Towards morning, raindrops drummed on the riddled chassis, water trickled from the engine block, and he pulled the tarpaulin over his head, The cool wind, which brought the sound of twigs grating one against the other, smelled of sulphur and petrol. Someone in a half-sleep said 'sin and Berlin', and at last Walter was awoken by a vague shivering that he thought at first was his own - until he felt the earth itself trembling. It was still dark, a depth-less, inky sky, but against the strip of red dawn he could make out the silhouettes of troop transporters and tanks, long columns moving quickly in his direction.
Translated by Shaun Whiteside

Parallels

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Time to Love and A Time to Die by Erich Maria Remarque
Reunion by Fred Uhlman
 

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