German Students' War Letters

9780812218169: Paperback
Release Date: 3rd September 2002

Dimensions: 127 x 184

Number of Pages: 408

Series Pine Street Books

University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.

German Students' War Letters

Written by
Philipp Witkop
,
Translated by
A. F. Wedd
,
Foreword by
Jay Winter

"I can't describe my frame of mind that afternoon. Not for a moment did I feel any fear of death; one simply abandons oneself to fate."—Karl Aldag, killed at Fromelles, France, age 26

Paperback / £16.99

Originally appearing at the same time as the pacifist novel All Quiet on the Western Front, this powerful collection provides a glimpse into the hearts and minds of an enemy that had been thoroughly demonized by the Allied press. Composed by German students who had left their university studies in order to participate in World War I, these letters reveal the struggles and hardships that all soldiers face.

The stark brutality and surrealism of war are revealed as young men from Germany describe their bitter combat and occasional camaraderie with soldiers from many nations, including France, Great Britain, and Russia. Like its companion volume, War Letters of Fallen Englishmen, these letters were carefully selected for their depth of perception, the intensity of their descriptions, and their messages to future generations. "Should these letters help towards the establishment of justice and better understanding between nations," the editor reflects in his introduction, "their deaths will not have been in vain." This edition contains a new foreword by the distinguished World War I historian Jay Winter.

Philipp Witkop (1880-1942) was a German writer and literary critic whose books include Die Neuere Deutsche Lyrik (1910) and Goethe: Leben und Werk (1931). Jay Winter, Professor of History at Yale University, is the author of many books, including Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History. He was cowriter and chief historian for the PBS series The Great War and the Shaping of the Twentieth Century, which won an Emmy award in 1997.

"There is a poignant appeal about the letters owing to the fact that every one of the writers was killed in battle. Some of their descriptions are fine pieces of writing; they all bear the marks of actuality."—Times Literary Supplement