BINDING UP THE WOUNDS by Leon C. Standifer


An American Soldier in Occupied Germany, 1945-1946
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 Slices of life in the American occupation army in postWW II Germany as seen through the eyes of an impressionable young combat infantryman, matched with his mature observations of a rebuilt Germany 50 years later. Standifer, who chronicled his combat experiences in Not in Vain: A Rifleman Remembers World War II (not reviewed), served in the 94th Infantry Division in Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Bavaria after V-E Day. Germany was without food reserves or money, and its cities were in ruins. Millions of its men were in POW camps. Civilians survived by trading their possessions, services, and souvenirs with GIs (who ignored nonfraternization regulations) for coffee, cigarettes, and army rations. Standifer's narrative has many absorbing and vivid episodes, including some revealing exchanges with German POWs and a droll account of the Allied victory parade in Prague (General Patton allowed only combat veterans who had been rigorously drilled to take part, intending to best the marching skills of other Allied troops). The author, born in Mississippi, writes frankly about his growing rapport with the men in a black GI unit (at a time when the army was still segregated), and with equal frankness about his experiences with German women. An older Standifer (professor emeritus of horticulture at Louisiana State Univ.) ponders the loss of youth when he and his buddies left for the army as adolescents and returned from the war as ``old men,'' and the nature of the shared misery at the heart of war. He admits that, despite his grim surroundings, he enjoyed his service in the occupation forces. In general, he notes, he lived better as a soldier than he had in Depression-ravaged Mississippi, giving new life to the the old army bromide ``He found a home in the army.'' A deeply felt remembrance, recorded in an honest, unadorned manner.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-8071-2094-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997


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