FORWARD, GUNNER ASCH by Hans Hellmut Kirst


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This carries forward the story, an earlier 1956 title, The Revolt of Gunner Asch, and takes Troop 3 to the Russian Front. Asch, still sceptical about all forms of heroics (as is his C.O. Luschke (still Lumpface to his men)), Lt. Wedelmann, who this time gets involved with a spy (a Russian girl who loves her country as fervently as he loves his), Vierbein, now a corporal, with many tanks to his credit as head of a gun crew,- are satisfied with the equilibrium achieved with the enemy -- no fighting, no shooting, status quo recognized. But hard bucking Capt. Witterer is a monkey wrench personified which affects not only Asch but the whole Troop and fouls up the scheduled withdrawal. While Vierbein, sent home to accompany radio transmitters and trained operators back to the front line, tangles with Lt. Schultz, his wife Lore, a friendly Admiral, a wedding and various attempts of Schultz to break him. Vierbein arrives in Russia with equipment and in time to be killed in Witterer's final snafu of Luschke's orders. The satire here is not only on German militarism (""even generals have arses and sometimes get kicked"") but on war and its futility (""If the war had a face, I'd spit in it"") and, late as the date, adds a spiked tuppence worth. There is an audience.

Publisher: Little, Brown