Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Teen Tuesday: Soldier X by Don Wulffson

Written by Don Wulffson and published in 2001, Soldier X is a work of fiction based on the lives of two remarkable people. Yes, I like WWII stories even though they are sad and sometimes hard to read.

Wulffson tells the story of a very young German soldier, Erik Brandt, who will turn sixteen right before he reaches the battlefield. The story begins on March 21, 1944 as Germany is losing the war and sending boys to the battle front. Erik never wanted to be in the Hitler Youth and is not a Nazi, but he must do as he is told in order to stay alive.

I struggled to get into this story, but once I was in, I couldn't put it down. Erik Brandt is half German and half Russian. He speaks French and English passably, but is proficient in German and Russian. He is sent to the front as a soldier and interpreter. After a violent battle, his regiment is overtaken and he finds himself badly injured behind the enemy lines of the Russian army.

He quickly decides that he will follow the orders he was given before the battle to use his head to stay alive. He trades clothing with a dead Russian soldier and is taken to a hospital. He pretends to have amnesia and hopes he will not be found out and killed as a German spy.

I love the lesson of this book - that we must see beyond the uniform, language, color, or nationality of people and care about one another. This was the first book I've read about a German soldier. I know that many were promised safety and food for their families who were starving if they enlisted. There were German soldiers who were good men. This story tells about one of them.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

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