Unlikely Warrior: A Jewish Soldier in Hitler's Army

Georg Rauch, trans. from the German by Phyllis Rauch. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-374-30142-2
The privileged "offspring of doctors and architects," Rauch was not just a reluctant draftee into Hitler's Wehrmacht: he was part Jewish, a fact he was unaware of until German troops took over his native Vienna in 1938. Drafted into Hitler's army at age 19, Rauch was headed for officer training until he confessed his heritage. Demoted to the infantry, he was sent to the Russian front, where he endured combat rations of raw horsemeat, subzero temperatures, and lice infestations. A teenage fascination with radios and Morse code likely saved his life. A few months into the campaign he notes that of his initial battalion of 250, only eight remain--seven telecommunication specialists, including himself, and one soldier. Translated by his wife, Phyllis, and first self-published before Rauch's death in 2006, this is a remarkable primary-source document with broad appeal to history teachers, students, and scholars alike. An exceptionally well-written account of unimaginable hardship, it's also an engaging read that serves as powerful testimony to the insanity of war and the human will to survive. Ages 12 & up. Agent: Emmanuelle Morgen, Stonesong. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/09/2015
Release date: 02/24/2015
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