Literature and War Readalong November 30 2012 Meets German Literature Month: The Stalin Front – Die Stalinorgel by Gert Ledig

It is thanks to last’s year’s German Literature Month during which I read Sebald’s On the Natural History of Destruction that I discovered Gert Ledig’s The Stalin Front  –  Die Stalinorgel (1955).

In this novel Ledig depicts the atrocities of the Eastern Front. The fact that he is so explicit about the horrors and destruction is, according to Sebald, the reason why Ledig was forgotten and only rediscovered thanks to Sebald’s lectures and later book.

Here’s what is written about the book on the nyrb site

Gert Ledig (1921–1999) was born in Leipzig and grew up in Vienna. At the age of eighteen he volunteered for the army and was wounded at the battle of Leningrad in 1942. He reworked his experiences during the war in this novel Die Stalinorgel (1955). Sent back home, he trained as a naval engineer and was caught in several air raids. The experience never left him and led to the writing of Vergeltung (Payback) (1956). The novel’s reissue in Germany in 1999 heralded a much publicized rediscovery of the author’s work there.

Here are the first sentences


The Lance-Coropral couldn’t turn in his grave because he didn’t have one. Some three versts from Podrova, forty versts south of Leningrad, he had been caught in a salvo of rockets, been thrown up in the air and with severed hands and head dangling, been impaled on the skeletal branches of what once had been a tree.

I hope that some of the participants of this year’s German Literature Month will join us. As you can deduce from the first lines –  this is a very graphic novel.


The discussion starts on Friday, 30 November 2012.

Further information on the Literature and War Readalong 2012, including all the book blurbs, can be found here.