No country for young men

18 05 2019

To Die in Spring by Ralf Rothmann

Walter Urban and Friedrich ‘Fiete’ Caroli work side by side as hands on a dairy farm in northern Germany. By 1945, it seems the War’s worst atrocities are over. When they are forced to ‘volunteer’ for the SS, they find themselves embroiled in a conflict which is drawing to a desperate, bloody close. Walter is put to work as a driver for a supply unit of the Waffen-SS, while Fiete is sent to the front. When the senseless bloodshed leads Fiete to desert, only to be captured and sentenced to death, the friends are reunited under catastrophic circumstances.

In a few days the war will be over, millions of innocents will be dead, and the survivors must find a way to live with its legacy.

It’s a brilliant evocation of what feels like the end of days. The war is almost over but anarchy reigns and the horror is palpable. A grim and gripping novel which really captures the nightmares for all of the final days of the war. Highly recommended.

 

four stars

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