First English-language edition published by Fromm International, 1995
English translation available
On the verge of dying from cancer, Ernst Pawel looks back on his teenage years, a tumultuous time that saw the rise of the Nazi regime and his family’s forced exodus from Germany. Told with passion and humor, he depicts this as the most beautiful period of his life even though it took place in the darkest of times. The young teenager finds refuge in Belgrade where he learns Serbian and joins a clandestine communist group. A man of exceptional wit and intelligence, he soon sees the flaws and ambiguities of the communist ideology and has a complete reversal of faith. He turns tail and heads to the land of freedom, arriving in New York. Within a couple of months, he enrolls in the Marines and is shipped off to the war in North Africa and Italy. Along with his own story, Ernst Pawel describes with rare acuity that time as seen through the eyes of the American and French soldiers around him.