Powerful And Horrifying
The Constant Soldier by William Ryan is a powerful yet horrifying account of life on the outskirts of Auschwitz 1944- 1945.
The action is seen mainly through the eyes of a reluctant German soldier, who is not a Nazi. He suffered on the eastern front, returned home and now works in his own way to help aid five women prisoners. As a war hero, he is trusted. As a German soldier, he is viewed with suspicion. The reader sees his true nature as a brave soldier who is trying to right the wrongs.
At the time of the book, the Germans were in retreat from the east and the Russians were advancing. The Nazis fail to see defeat as an option, still believing in Hitler. The German army is in tatters, recruiting boys as young as twelve and old men.
The Constant Soldier is a very powerful read and one that I could not put down. As a historian it was interesting to view the war from a German point of view. As a human being it was refreshing to see that not all Germans were Nazis. As a mother it was painful to see the losses.
William Ryan has written an epic novel that is grounded in fact. It consumed me. It horrified me and it restored my hope that pockets of goodness existed at a time of pure evil.