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Edition Anglaise

Feuilletez

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ParJ. C. Faffale 18 novembre 2013

Format: ReliéAchat vérifié

I gave the following comment for the french edition of Dominique Richert's book and it is also fully valid for Mr. Sutherland's excellent translation just published:
Ce livre est un miracle.
Dominique RICHERT, jeune paysan du Sundgau, le sud de l'Alsace qui à l'époque faisait partie de l'Allemagne, est mobilisé en 1913 et se retrouve sur le front en Pologne, en Roumanie et en Russie jusqu'en 1918. Il est alors muté vers le front occidental, dans la Somme et continue toujours en première ligne et toujours 2e classe, jusqu'au moment où il réussit à déserter et finit la guerre comme prisonnier des Français.
Au retour, Nickel -c'est ainsi qu'on l'appelait dans son village- a passé un hiver entier à écrire le récit de cette expérience terrible et traumatisante: inutile de dire que tout ce récit, écrit dans un style très vivant et sans une rature, qui fourmille de dates, de noms de lieux, de personnes, d'unités, a été rendu entièrement de mémoire car, au cours de ses tribulations dans les tranchées il n'était évidemment pas question ni de tenir ni de conserver des notes ou un journal ou quoi que ce soit d'approchant. Et il range ces 6 cahiers sur une vielle poutre dans sa maison, mais il n'oublie pas ces terribles années de guerre et ne cesse d'en parler à ses proches.
Quarante cinq années passent: jeune étudiant et ami de la famille RICHERT par mes parents et grand parents qui habitaient le même village, Dominique me parlait de ses années de guerre chaque fois que j'allais le voir. Et lorsqu'un jour il m'a sorti ses cahiers je lui dis, après avoir déchiffré laborieusement leur petite écriture gothique, qu'il fallait absolument les publier. Après une année laborieuse passée à déchiffrer et retranscrire ces textes, je contactai de nombreux éditeurs et auteurs allemands. Et finalement Heinrich BÖLL, Prix Nobel de Littérature, -le trouvant digne d'intérêt mais ne pouvant l'éditer lui-même- le transmit au centre d'archives sur la guerre de Fribourg où encore vingt ans plus tard, 2 jeunes étudiants allemands en doctorat le retrouveront et le feront publier non sans avoir constaté auparavant l'a concordance remarquable des citations de dates, lieux et nom, et la télévision allemande en fera un film.
Dominique RICHERT était mort quand son livre est paru, d'abord en Allemagne puis en France. Mais son livre reste un témoignage exceptionnel de la Grande Guerre vécue par un simple soldat, des possibilités stupéfiantes de la mémoire humaine et des aventures étonnantes de 6 cahiers d'écolier grignotés par les souris.
jc Faffa

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful

Unusual perspective – well worth reading

By Chris Baker VINE VOICE on 22 Dec. 2012Format: Hardcover

This is an unusual, educational and absorbing memoir of an infantryman's Great War and I recommend it. Translated from German, the writing is at times a little brusque and staccato in style but my goodness what an interesting tale. The writer Dominik Richert came from Alsace, that hotly contested region that between 1871 and 1918 was held by Germany. He spoke German and was conscripted for service in the Kaiser's army in 1913, but once war came found himself unable to return home. In 1918, exhausted by his experiences and increasingly disillusioned by the war he deserted to the French forces and found himself welcomed.

Richert served in some of the most important engagements of the war: the "Battle of the Frontiers" in Lorraine in autumn 1914 (in which he witnessed a German General ordering his men not to take French soldiers as prisoners but to kill them); in costly attacks against the British at Violaines in the Battle of La Bassee in October 1914; being raided by Indian troops in the trenches near Festubert; cold, hunger and madness as German troops are flung into suicidal frontal attacks against the Russians on the Eastern Front; the innovative and successful attack at Riga in September 1917; chaos in the Baltic states as Russia collapses after Lenin's revolution, and finally back to France where he witnesses at first hand terrific British superiority in material and firepower at Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. He was back in Lorraine when he decided with others from Alsace to get out of the war and go across to the French, an act for which he was condemned to death by Germany. Richert describes these affairs at ground level: the weariness, hunger and loss of friends.Read more ›

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An interesting perspective on WWI

By Lewis Thomson on 2 Jan. 2013Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

Chris Baker has given a good account of the narrative of the book and there is no need for me to repeat it.

The tussle for control of the areas of Alsace & Lorraine is taught in school history classes and my memory is of a political story. Rickert's book takes it to the unfortunate effects the political struggle had on individual real people like Rickert.

Mr Sutherland is to be congratulated first for finding this book and for producing a well written, accessible translation. I do wonder why it was not translated before?

This is a good read and very informative about this particular aspect of European history and WWI in general.

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The Kaiser's Reluctant Conscript

By J AP LEGGE on 8 Mar. 2013Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

The Nazis would have undoubtedly banned this book, along with All Quiet on the Western Front etc. The title says it all, Dominik Richert was conscripted, ie forced, into the German Kaiser's army. His descriptions of life as a lowly WW1 German Army infantryman could fit the life pattern of any similar soldier in any army of the era. This book gives a true life glimpse of European yesteryear.

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An honest, true appraisal of the war from the other side

By C J Windsor on 4 Nov. 2013Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

A fantastic book that reflects the war from a side not often explored, well translated and supported accordingly, making it accessible for a wide range of people. With the century anniversary approaching, this book is a must have!

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A rare opportunity to read German diary in English, very good

By janos900 on 9 Feb. 2014Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I am Hungarian, I found very nice details, a few pages about my country in this diary, also was interesting to read about the Russian front, from German point of view. I like the author, and his humanist viewpoint, I think well worth to read this book because of the author personality, and also because of his experience on both in France and Russia.

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