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A German War Deserter's Story


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A GERMAN DESERTER'S
WAR EXPERIENCE
TRANSLATED BY J. KOETTGEN
NEW YORKB. W. HUEBSCHMCMXVII
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COPYRIGHT, 1917, BYB. W. HUEBSCH
Published, April, 1917Second printing, April, 1917Third printing, June,
1917Fourth printing, July, 1917Fifth printing, August, 1917
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE
The following narrative first appeared in German in the columns of the New Yorker
Volkszeitung, the principal organ of the German speaking Socialists in the United
States. Its author, who escaped from Germany and military service after 14 months
of fighting in France, is an intelligent young miner. He does not wish to have his
name made public, fearing that those who will be offended by his frankness might
vent their wrath on his relatives. Since his arrival in this country his friends and
acquaintances have come to know him as an upright and truthful man whose word
can be relied upon.
The vivid description of the life of a common German soldier in the present war
aroused great interest when the story presented in these pages to the English
speaking reader was published in serial form. For here was an historian of the war
who had been through the horrors of the carnage as one of the "Huns," one of the
"Boches"; a soldier who had not abdicated his reason; a warrior against his will, who
nevertheless had to conform to the etiquette of war; a hater of militarism for whom
there was no romance in war, but only butchery and brutality, grime and vermin,
inhuman toil and degradation. Moreover, he was found to be no mean observer of
men and things. His technical training at a school of
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mining enabled him to obtain a much clearer understanding of the war of position
than the average soldier possesses.
Most soldiers who have been in the war and have written down their experiences
have done so in the customary way, never questioning for a moment the moral
justification of war. Not so our author. He could not persuade his conscience to make
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