Alsatian Guy Sajer In The Forgotten Solider

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In 1942, 16-year-old Alsatian Guy Sajer became part of the German military. Sajer initially started as a member of the Rollbahn where he delivered supplies to the front, but eventually was promoted to the Gross Deutschland Division, an elite combat unit. In his memoir, The Forgotten Solider, Sajer recounts his experiences on the Eastern front of World War II. Among his horrific memories, Sajer has fond thoughts of his friends. He writes “Friendships counted for a great deal during the war, their value perhaps increased by the generalized hate, consolidating men on the same side in friendships which never would have broken through the barriers of ordinary life” (83). Sajer manages to survive the war, but many of his comrades were not as lucky. …show more content…

They meet in the Rollbahn, and Hals influences Sajer’s decision to join an SS combat unit. As a member of the Leichtinfanterie Gross Deutschland Division (118), Sajer receives special opportunities such as two weeks’ leave (117), new uniforms and boots (354), and higher importance in the eyes of military leaders, a standing that led to better supply and strategic retreats that saved his life. After retreating from the Battle of Belgorod, Sajer is stopped by the vast Dnieper River. There, thousands of other soldiers are also trying to cross. As a member of an elite division, Sajer is one of the first to be evacuated (265). Days later, the seven thousand other German soldiers who had not been evacuated were either killed or taken prisoner by the Red Army (277). By guiding his friend to the Gross Deutschland Division, Hals prevents Sajer from a similar …show more content…

Whereas Lensen would have been considered the perfect Nazi, Sajer is flawed. In battle, Lensen is courageous and a strong leader. He follows orders strictly and is passionate about the German cause. Sajer, on the other hand, considers himself a coward in battle (411) and even disregards orders (297), a tactic which proves to be essential for his survival. Sajer learns from the veteran that sometimes it is necessary to ignore commands in order to survive. On one occasion, Sajer is assigned guard duty in -40˚ weather. He becomes so cold that he decides to run back inside and stick his feet in the fire (335). If he had been caught leaving his post he would have been considered a deserter for which the punishment is death. However, if he had stayed he could have frozen to death. By breaking the rules, he manages to survive, a method that he uses in various other scenarios to preserve his life (199). Lensen, however, “was a brave man, who would have sacrificed his life without hesitation to help the most insignificant fellow solider” (402). In his end, Lensen dies holding off Soviet troops just long enough so that reinforcement can come to save Sajer

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