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Sixteen-year-old Erik Brandt barely knows what Germany is fighting for when he is drafted into Hitler's army in 1944. Sent to the killing fields of the Eastern Front, he is surrounded by unimaginable sights, more horrific than he ever thought possible. It's kill or be killed, and it seems clear that Erik's days are numbered. Until, covered in blood and seriously injured, he conceives of another way to survive. Filled with gritty and visceral detail, Soldier X will change the way...
Sixteen-year-old Erik Brandt barely knows what Germany is fighting for when he is drafted into Hitler's army in 1944. Sent to the killing fields of the Eastern Front, he is surrounded by unimaginable sights, more horrific than he ever thought possible. It's kill or be killed, and it seems clear that Erik's days are numbered. Until, covered in blood and seriously injured, he conceives of another way to survive. Filled with gritty and visceral detail, Soldier X will change the way every reader thinks about the reality of war.
In 1943 sixteen-year-old Erik experiences the horrors of war when he is drafted into the German army and sent to fight on the Russian front.
Iron smashed into my head.
I was lying on my back when I came to. I had no idea as to how much time had passed. My entire skull pulsed with pain, and I was nauseous and dizzy.
My right knee throbbed. It was dark, and for a moment I thought it was night. I turned my head and saw daylight, and from somewhere heard Russian being yelled. I looked up, and again saw the underbelly of a tank, about two meters above me; one tread was broken, putting it out of action. It had come to a stop above me, straddling the trench. I ran a hand through my hair. It was wet with blood, and there was a large lump just above the hairline. I reached down and felt my pounding right knee; it was bloody, and my fingers came upon a jagged piece of shrapnel that felt embedded in the joint. I rolled sideways. All around me were the ugly leftovers of the battle: shell casings, wooden boxes, helmets, weapons, empty canisters—and dead soldiers, both Russian and German. More of the same filled the trench to either side of the tank.
When I turned to look, a dead arm flopped down on the back of my neck, knocking my head downward. My chin came to rest on the gray-green of a dead German’s chest. And looking right into my face was another face, that of a blond Russian boy, his lifeless eyes locked open in disbelief. I looked away as I suddenly became aware of the sound of distant battle—then almost jumped at the sound of a nearby gunshot.
I heard someone pleading in German—then another shot. I belly-crawled a half meter and peered out. What I saw sickened and terrified me. A Russian officer was methodically seeking out the German wounded and shooting them.
A lumbering oaf of a foot soldier, using a bayonet, was dispatching other Germans. He seemed to be enjoying what he was doing. And many of those he was bayoneting looked already dead; he was just making sure.
I froze at the sound of nearby voices.
“I want this tank operational immediately!” someone was demanding in Russian.
“I will do my best, master sergeant,” came the response. “Parts are in short supply.”
“Just get it done!”
The voices were close, but I could not tell from where they were coming exactly. Two booted legs jumped into the trench, followed by another pair. My heart pounded so hard and loud I was sure it would be heard. Two Russians knelt down in the trench beside the tank and examined the dangling, shattered tread. Remembering Dobelmann’s words, I played dead among the dead.
“And how does the idiot think we are supposed to repair it?” groused one of the men.
“We will need another T-34 tank to pull it free,” came the reply.
“Prinisitye mnye pazhalusta adin T-34!”
Both laughed. One had joked that their superior officer acted as though they could repair the tank by magic.
The two figures rose, and out of a slitted eye I saw two pairs of legs headed away, down the trench. They paused for a moment and huddled with a man who had the white cross of a medic on his helmet, and helped him tend to a badly wounded Russian soldier. Between the three of them, using a blanket as a makeshift stretcher, they trundled the wounded man out of the trench.
Entangled in carnage and debris, boxed in by the walls of the trench and the bottom of the tank, I lay there wondering what to do, too frightened to do anything. I wanted someone to help me, to talk to me, as my mother would, and tell me what to do. I looked for help, and saw only the dead.
From somewhere down the trench came another bang. Perhaps another wounded German had been executed?
My gut knotted with fear. Over and over, I kept hearing what Dobelmann had said to us just one day before.
I tried to think.
We had been overrun. In the distance, in the direction of the bunkered hill, fierce fighting continued; battles that I could not see were being fought. More Russians were passing by every minute.
I heard them; I saw them scramble through the trench.
I was trapped behind enemy lines.
If discovered, I would be killed. Even playing dead would not save me; even dead, once found, I would be skewered on the end of a bayonet.
I had only one chance, I knew, to save myself.
The dead eyes of the blond Russian boy seemed to be watching me. With my fingers, I closed the lids. Strange though it may seem, I did not want him looking at me and at what I was about to do.
In that cramped and bloody charnel house beneath the tank, I removed my clothes—even my socks and underwear—then exchanged my clothes for his.
The task was very difficult. I was in considerable pain, especially from my right knee, from which the ragged bit of metal was protruding, and it was extremely awkward undressing then trying to re-dress the inert body, the limbs of which were already turning stiff.
During this last part of the gruesome process, I had to stop. The two Russians I had heard before returned; they crawled in amidst the bodies and examined the tank’s underside, then commenced cutting and pulling out long strands of barbed wire that had become entangled in its drive wheels. At this juncture, I was no more than half done re-dressing the corpse in my own uniform. Sick with fear, only a few centimeters from the two men, I lay frozen in place, certain that I would be found out. But the minds of the two—both seemingly mechanics—were on other things; they paid not the slightest bit of attention to me, to the half-dressed corpse, or to any of the bodies.
Finally, they left, and I finished my ugly chore as fast as I could. In the pocket of the brown jacket I felt a bulge, and removed a wallet. In it there were a few rubles and a military identification card. In the dim light I tried to make out the name. I was unable to, and returned the wallet to my pocket.
I crawled. I pulled myself from under the tank and along the trench, over more bodies and more trash. From somewhere came the sound of approaching vehicles and far-off voices. Russian voices. Amidst more dead and more trash, I leaned back against the wall of the trench, thinking back. Hals had been killed, and before that, Willi had lost an arm, Fassnacht a foot. Oskar had been shot in the back, running away. But Jakob was still alive, as far as I knew, and so was Dobelmann. I looked at the faces of the dead in the trench, wondering if I would see Dobelmann or Jakob—and hoping I wouldn’t, hoping that somehow they were still alive.
Sitting there leaning against the wall of the trench, every part of me hurt, especially my knee. I pulled up the brown pant leg. The knee was badly swollen, and just below the kneecap a piece of steel was protruding. It looked as though a large, misshapen nail had been driven into my leg. Something occurred to me: The shrapnel had hit my knee before I had changed uniforms, so there was no tear in the pants; someone seeing this might become suspicious. Rubbing the woolen fabric back and forth over the jagged spike, I ripped a hole in the pant leg, exposing the wound.
Over trash, dead bodies, and collapsed earth, I crawled out of the trench. Not knowing where I was going or what I was doing, I found myself wandering along what had been our front lines, limping, using a Russian rifle for support. The dead were everywhere, in whatever final pose death had forced upon them. Gutted tanks and other vehicles continued burning. I became aware that I was approaching a man—a Russian—sitting against the charred and shattered stump of a tree. His face was caked with grime and his hair singed off. He held badly burned arms out in front of him. They were lathered with some kind of yellowish unguent, as though they had been frosted. He was grimacing in pain; brown eyes gave me a distressed, curious look.
“Galava krushitsa.” I told him in Russian that I was very dizzy.
Brown eyes blinked, looked at me uncomprehendingly as I hobbled past him. The pain in my knee became more than I could bear. I sat down on a broken slab of concrete. Before me, amidst heaps of other debris, was what remained of a shattered German blockhouse. One wall had been shorn away; and inside the place I could see dead men and a broken-looking weapon, a light artillery piece. An uprooted tree lay beside the blockhouse; beneath its fallen branches—a bouquet of dead, black-brown sticks—lay the body of a German officer. His body looked broken everywhere; his uniform was smoldering.
Across the way, two Russians were arguing like a couple of kids. Scrounging for souvenirs, food, and any usable goods, they had come upon something they both wanted for some reason. They started bargaining, haggling: for a can
of peaches, one would give the other a German sheath knife. I grabbed to where my sheath knife should have been, and realized there was none: I was wearing a Russian uniform and Russian gear, and there was a canteen there instead of a knife.
From far behind me came a sudden flurry of gunfire, and then a series of explosions. Reduced to a spectator, I turned and looked to the horseshoe-shaped hillside—German battalion headquarters. A huge Soviet flag—red, with a hammer and sickle—had been raised.
It looked tiny in the distance, but it told me most of what I needed to know. Flurries of fighting were still going on in various areas of the hill, in and around the bunkers. To the south, German tanks were burning; a few others were in retreat, firing as they raced backward. Clearly the battle had been lost.
We had been defeated.
I didn’t know if I even cared.
I cared about the friends I had lost. Hals and Oskar. Their deaths filled me with grief. And I was angry with them—for dying, for leaving me. I turned my attention to my knee and began pulling at the spike of shrapnel buried in my flesh. I could move it a little from side to side but couldn’t pull it out, I leaned back against the blockhouse, my eyes on the dead German officer.
I heard footsteps, and looked up to see a large number of fresh Russian troops coming in my direction. I was terrified, momentarily; it was my delusion that they were coming just to get me. Frightened, I stood up. Using the wall of the battered blockhouse for support, I made my way around to the other side of it—as though I could hide there; then I did an even stranger thing: I waved at the Russians, as I had so many years ago at parading Wehrmacht troops.
Surprisingly, someone waved back.
Leaning heavily against the Russian rifle, I heard a scratching, rustling sound on the other side of the blockhouse. I saw a hand—a left hand—come around the other side of it. The hand was in a claw shape; fingertips dug into loose soil.
A man, the German officer I had left for dead on the other side of the blockhouse, pulled himself into view. His face covered with grime and soot, his legs seemingly useless, he was dragging himself along the ground like some sort of fire-blackened, badly injured alligator.
He looked up at me, and at first I didn’t realize that what he was seeing was the enemy—and perhaps his executioner.
“Nein!” he rasped.
I did not see the pistol in his right hand until he fired. A bullet whined past my face. He fired again. I flew backward as something hot hit me in the side; then I was just sitting on the ground, pressing a hand to my belly and looking at the German. He was continuing to slither away. A rifle shot rang out. He slumped, stopped moving.
A Russian soldier hurried toward me, a smoking rifle in hand, and he was calling for others to come help him. Strong hands helped me lie down on my back. A bearded face loomed into view. “Are you hit bad?” the man asked in Russian.
I looked up and saw what I thought was my grandfather.
“Dyshyte narmal’na!” Breathe nor-mally, he said. Kneeling beside me, he pressed a pad of gauze to the wound in my side. “Just take it easy, son,” he said in Russian. “You’re going to make it.”
Posted June 27, 2004
This is seiously one of the best books I have ever read. Its packed full of action, suspense and everything a good book should have and more! Definately read it.
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Posted November 30, 2010
Soldier X is a must-read for anyone who loves stories about the realities of war. Wulffson includes suspense, drama and romance in an epic tale about the terror of war. Soldier X tells about the war from the perspective of Erik Brandt as he leads a life as both a German and Russian. A young boy with The survival instinct of a soldier is altered in soldier X when behind enemy lines. The book describes the life of a young man/soldier who has taken on the identity of the enemy and rushes from the bullets of the other side in his journey, avoiding death from his own people. Although, he is faced with a question. Where do my loyalties lie and will the war ever be over? But he will find out that the war will never be over until the life he once knew is no longer and forgotten.
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This novel is a great classic of the hardships & triumphs of Erik, a 16 year old enlisted in the army of Germany during the Nazi occupation of World War II. As is well known, most WWII books or movies follow the storyline of someone enlisted in one of the armies of the Allies, but this book takes a totally different look at the events. Don Wuffison epicly depicts a tale of a young boy overcoming the adversity facing him due to his forced enlistment. At a point in the story, he is forced to go behind enemy lines, or possibly be killed. He goes undercover, (being able to due to his Russian roots) and ends up in a Russian hospital. Along the way, he develops a love interest in a girl named Tamara. Eventually he and her are forced to leave, and they become refugees in their own country. They begin to fall in love with each other, but near the end of their journey, they both are mistakenly shot by an American GI part of a unit patrolling the area. Erik loses an arm, and faces a descision he must make. Overall, a very interesting book, and one that i definetly would recommend to my friends. Don W. writes a very captivating & exciting story that will keep you guessing what will happen next.
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Posted July 14, 2013
Posted February 12, 2013
Posted February 13, 2012
Soldier X is a must read for anyone interested in books about war, or history. Soldier X is a historical fiction novel that takes place during World War II. The book follows Erik Brandt, a sixteen year-old German soldier who has to use his intelligence in order to survive the dangerous environments of World War II. The book is told in first-person through Erik’s perspective. The first-person point of view definitely adds depth, and makes the story more personal. In fact, when Erik describes one of the battles he had to fight in; it almost feels like you are in the book fighting alongside him. Soldier X is an extremely moving book, as I read cover to cover; I felt a variety of emotions. Some chapters will make you smile with joy, some will make you sick with sorrow, and some will leave you slightly disturbed. But trust me, this book is a page-turner, not once did I want to put this book down; it keeps the reader engaged and interested in the plot. The author, Don Wulffson, does a great job of developing the main characters, and each one seems to have their own unique personality which is refreshing. The setting mainly takes place on the border of Germany and Russia, along with many small European villages. The setting is constantly changing, which I find to be interesting. The characters are always on the move searching for safety, which keeps the reader engaged and on edge. This book is an extremely easy read, and anyone who is interested in history should definitely take the time to read it. I would, without a doubt, read other books by Don Wulffson, I believe he has a truly unique style that keeps readers motivated to read more. Without a doubt I recommend Soldier X to anyone looking for a quick, moving book to read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 25, 2012
Posted December 1, 2011
¿Soldier X¿ is an action packed story about 16 year old Erik Brandt who is drafted in to the German army. It is an amazing story and it will always keep you on your toes. This is a great book for one reason because it is filled with imagery and it makes you feel like you right with the characters. The author Don Wulffson did a wonderful job explaining what it was like for the main character Erik Brandt behind enemy lines.¿Filthy gold tassels hung from faded green velvet curtains; the windows were oval in shape, the glass yellowed by age; stuffing sprouted from seats upholstered in cracking, scaly-looking leather; and at the back of the car, behind a curtained of alcove, was a toilet that emptied directly onto the tracks¿, is a wonderful example of the beautiful imagery in this book. It was very entertaining and filled with action; it also shows the pain and suffering of war. I have read many other books about war and ¿Soldier X¿ is definitely my favorite so far. ¿Soldier X¿ is an imagery filled book that will always keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is one of my all time favorite that I have ever read. I think that the author did an amazing job telling the story of how the main characters survived.Over all ¿Soldier X¿ is an amazing book. It is one of my favorite books of all time. I give this a five star rating. It is a must read, but not for all ages I recommend 12 and up. If you decide to read the book I hope you enjoy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 30, 2011
This book is filled with drama. It's seriously suspenseful, and you will never know what the next great battle will be. There is a lot of romance in there too! In the end of the book it ends up to be like a chick book. All romance! I would recomend this book to someone who loves to read romantic books, or books that deal with war.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 24, 2011
Read this,its great! I know this may not conatin as many words as all the other reviews, but thats because theres only one word to describe it:
Read Soldier X,now.
Posted November 27, 2010
Posted June 4, 2010
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I read this book a couple of days ago and it was AMAZING!!!!!!!I give it 10 stars!!!! This book is about a sixteen year old boy named Erik and he is half German half Russian. His father died when he was very little and his mother and grandparents own a resturant the Orange Kitchen( which is right below their apartment). Well he drafts into Hitler`s army, but in one of the battles an event occurs that changes Erik`s enitre LIFE!!!!!! I would tell you but you MUST, MUST, MUST READ THE BOOK!!!!!!! :) I highly recomend this book to anyone who wants to know what it was like to live during World War II. I also learned alot of German and Russian words :)!!! Awsome book !!!!! Must Read!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2010
I would recommend this book to someone who seeks adventure. I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who has a week stomach and doesn't like seeing a lot of blood.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 26, 2010
I Would recommend this book because it was very factual and told about World War II and what it was like to be a soldier who had to leave there family and fight in war.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 1, 2010
SOLDIER X, by Don Wulffson was a great and touching novel that was fictional in plot but based of of real happenings. It was well written and thought provoking, both important elements of a great book. It also reviewed the hardships and injustices throughout the World War 2 era, as well as morals learned through these hardships.
Mr. Wulffson's writing, like most great novels, was able to create a strong connection between the main characters and the reader. He did this so well he was able to make the reader connect with Nazi German soldiers and the Soviet Russians they were fighting as the main character traveled through connections with both sides, both good and bad.So well that he made a loving relationship between a German and a Russian of the Nazi-Soviet era not only probable, but possible and no different than those between a couple of the same nationality or allied countries.
This book, like any other that takes place during World War 2, discusses the tragic and heart-throbbing destruction and violence that took place everywhere in Europe during that time. Mr. Wulffson did this with a clarity that myself as a reader has rarely seen in other works. His writing makes the reader not only vividly see the settings in his/her head, but makes him/her feel like they are in that place at that time.
This book's end, like many, was happy. However, the author did not make it seem obvious that it would be happy. In fact, there are several points that make a happy ending seem impossible. So, if a reader is looking for a thrilling, well-written, emotional, and action-packed book, SOLDIER X, by Don Wulffson is the book of choice.
Posted December 17, 2009
In the book, Soldier X, Erik Brandt is a German teenager who is sent off to the battle front to fight the Soviets. There he loses the most of the friends he has made and is badly injured and knocked out. When Erik wakes up, the Soviets have pushed forward. He is now behind enemy lines. Erik takes a dead Soviet's uniform and is taken to a Russian hospital, where he passes himself off with the new identity, X. One day, Erik, while helping out in the hospital, burns himself and yells out in German. His cover is blown, but Tamara, the nurse who heard him, has not reported him for weeks since the incident. Then, the Germans invade the town and Erik and Tamara run for their lives. Erik must now run from both the Russian and German army which he deserted. Along the journey Erik and Tamara begin to fall in love and must face many hardships.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 14, 2008
This book is absolutely outstanding. Usually I read about the Russian Revolution, but this book made me want to read so much more about WWII! Erik Brandt is a sixteen year old German boy who is drafted into the military and sent to fight the Soviets. In a battle, he loses most of his friends to the war and is badly injured. Taking the uniform of a dead Russian boy, he is taken into a hospital and takes a new identity, X. When the hospital is attacked, X's life takes another turn as he has to run from the Russian army and the German army he has abandoned. Along the way he falls in love with the Russian nurse Tamara, who accepts him for who he is and what he is and understands that just because he is German does not make him a true Nazi. To find the real, true, amazing story you will have to read the rest of the book. I was glad to read a book that tells about what the war was like in Europe, not just America and Japan. It was a book that was bloody and gave an accurate depiction of war and how it affects so many lives, but at the same time it was in a way a love story. It made me realize that not everyone who fought for Germany was a cruel Nazi, but Germany, like America, had a draft. I don't think many Americans or any people whose countries fought Germany consider that. This was superb and I could not put it down. This is a book everyone should read! Go out today and buy Soldier X!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 9, 2008
This is my favorite book because every book about WWII is about the American-Japanese or American-German battles. They never have UK or Soviet Union in any WWII. Second of all, I loved this book --- it is the best WWII book you'll read. I think it is better than Flyboys or any other teenage military book. This book describes exactly how WWII action was fought and was written with great detail. There is never a moment where you are bored in this story and never a part you would want to skip. I've read it 3 times and I still love the book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 24, 2008
This book is a great read for all readers young and old. The book portrays the war in a different light. The book enables the reader to feel a great many emotions. People with previuos knowledge of this kind of read with enjoy it a great deal more. The book invokes a great deal of imagery. People who don't like war or history would probably still enjoy this book. The only drawback to the book is that it isn't wordy and greatly detailed like other books such as those of Hemingway. I highly recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 21, 2008