1942, at the Eastern Front. Soldiers crouch in horrible holes in the ground, mingling with corpses. Tunneled beneath a radio mast, German soldiers await the order to blow themselves up. Russian tanks, struggling to break through enemy lines, bog down in a swamp, while a German runner, bearing messages from headquarters to the front, scrambles desperately from shelter to shelter as he tries to avoid getting caught in the action. Through it all, Russian artillery—the crude but devastatingly effective multiple rocket launcher known to the Germans as the Stalin Organ and to the Russians as Katyusha—rains death upon the struggling troops.
Comparable to such masterpieces of war literature as Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel and Erich Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, The Stalin Front is a harrowing, almost photographic, description of violence and devastation, one that brings home the unforgiving reality of total war.
About the Author
Gert Ledig (1921–1999) was born in Leipzig and grew up in Vienna. At the age of eighteen he volunteered for the army and was wounded at the battle of Leningrad in 1942. He reworked his experiences during the war in this novel Die Stalinorgel (1955). Sent back home, he trained as a naval engineer and was caught in several air raids. The experience never left him and led to the writing of Vergeltung (Payback) (1956). The novel’s reissue in Germany in 1999 heralded a much publicized rediscovery of the author’s work there.
Michael Hofmann is a poet. He is the translator of nine books by Joseph Roth and was awarded the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Prize for translating The String of Pearls. He is also the translator of Wolfgang Koeppen’s two novels The Hothouse and A Sad Affair.
Praise for The Stalin Front: A Novel of World War II…
The brutality and mindlessness of battle could hardly be more trenchantly depicted than in this account of the most ferocious warfare of all time… Hofmann provides a sterling translation as well as an insightful overview that puts the work in context. This book belongs on every shelf that hosts Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.
— Library Journal
…a shattering novel of Germany’s war against Russia. For stripping war of any glamour and exposing the sheer physical horror of modern conflict it deserves to stand next to Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.
— David Cesarani, Evening Standard Books of the Year
Ledig’s constant shifting of narrative, and his ability to capture the essence of chaos within a deceptively tight framework, make his 1955 novel an important contribution to war literature.
— Times Literary Supplement
…Slender but powerful account of the brutal fighting outside Leningrad in the summer of 1942…Ledig’s style is straightforward and unremarkable, but his shockingly modern view of war is anything but.
— Publisher’s Weekly