THE OFFICER FACTORY by Hans Helimut Eirst


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In various ways and at various times overtones of Heinrich Boll, Evelyn Waugh and Jakob Wassermann waft through the overblown plot and underdeveloped themes of Hans Kirst's novel of a Wehrmacht OCS during the Third Reich's dog days. Even so, cut to half its length, we might have really had something: lart and taut scenario along with a rousing revelation of the military personality caught in an ideological chamber of horrors; but our talented author wanted to make a splash and winds up, eventually and unfortunately, with just a muddled puddle. A black and white schema serves: there are the good Germans and the had; the protagonist's a young lieutenant, a sort of bumbling Everyman who gradually assumes an heroic, humanitarian conscience; his antagonist's one of the school cadets, a perverted Slegfried, a pathic product of the Hitler Jugend, responsible for the murder of and officer, who as it turns out is the secret son of the camp's General, an honor bound, out of date Prussian. The mystery's unraveled through numerous scenes, characters and relationships, all quasi farcical the first part, quasi-melodramatic the rest; the suicide, the general and the lieutenant by a Judge Advocate to court martial and the firing squad. The details are Ironic, the dialogue fitfully motivations bolster the bad s, heterocrotic ones the good. Faults granted, an imperfect but generally palpable tour of other house-that-Hitler-built.

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday