CORPORAL CAT: The Story of a German Parachute Soldier by Martin Flavin

CORPORAL CAT: The Story of a German Parachute Soldier

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Mr. Little John won a certain reputation for Martin Flavin, dramatist, as a novelist. This is utterly different, but a very compelling story, with vibrations that go beyond the story itself. Here, in fiction form, is what reads (to me) as a more credible psychological study of a German flier than the much discussed diary, I Was a Nazv Flier. The odyssey of a youth, growing up in the Nazi tradition, Hitler youth movement on to the moment when, struggling against his fears, he waits for the transport plane to launch its company of parachutists over enemy territory. His mind flashes back, picks up successive periods, --the quarrel with his beloved grandfather who would make shoes for his Jewish friends -- the quarrel in his own home, when he brings back the story of the death of one lad, too delicate to stand the long march; his break with the girl he loved, first over his cowardice in standing up for his best friend when his Jewish blood is revealed, and again when he dares not disregard orders to betray escaped prisoners. Weaknesses in the armor, according to his lights -- but reflecting something of the inevitable struggle against the hardening process, even to the susceptible. And then the tragi-comedy of his fiasco -- delayed in getting away, instinctive self-protection with its tragic aftermath, landing not on enemy territory, but on German soil, but, on both sides, the assumption that here is an enemy, to be met according to orders from above, with violence. An ironic commentary implicit in the whole, on the stultifying effect of the Nazi processes. The reverse side of Rogue Male -- a haunting story of a nation victimized by too ready adherence to regimentation.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1941
Publisher: Harper