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About the Book
Alfred Novotny was born in Vienna on 1 April 1924, and was perfectly placed to suffer the ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. His times were interesting and deadly, but that he survived them is not the greatest surprise. Rather, what stands out is that Fred never lost his compassion, nor his humanity, nor his mind.
Growing up in 1930s Vienna, the former home of a young, frustrated, and fuming artist named Adolf Hitler, Fred was the stepson of a dedicated Social Democrat. As such, he grew up with a visceral and deep dislike and distrust of their rival parties, including the National Socialists, or Nazis. Although the political situation in Austria throughout the 1930s was stormy, the German annexation of Austria absolutely ended effective opposition to the New Order.
Attracted by the superficial benefits of unity with Germany and the evident achievements of the Nazis, young Alfred gradually parted ways with his stepfather. He performed his duty to the Reich when called up for service in the Reich Labor Corps, and later proudly served in the most elite division of the German Army in World War II, Panzer-Grenadier Division Großdeutschland ("Greater Germany").
From 1942 forward, Fred saw more than his share of combat. Starting with
action as a member of a hurriedly-armed labor detachment in the famous British
naval and commando raid at St. Nazaire, France, in March 1942, Fred later
joined the Großdeutschland Division in time to participate in some of
the most well-knownand most bloody battles of the war on the Eastern Front.
Like so many members of German units, Fred was happy to surrender to the US Army at the end of the war, but under the terms of inter-Allied agreements reached months before, units which had fought only against the Soviets were turned over to the Red Army, en masse. Thus began the ordeal after the ordeal2½ years in Soviet prison camps.
After being freed from captivity by the Soviets, Fred eventually escaped the old world and the old conflicts . . . and started a new life in the United States, free of the competing "isms" of Europe that had wreaked misery on millions.
Supported by detailed commentary by author/historian Marc Rikmenspoel, The Good Soldier contains 62 illustrations, including original diagrams and sketches drawn before the war and during the author's captivity; comprehensive documentary authentication of the author's military service; and extensive wartime photography.
The Good Soldier
From Austrian Social Democracy to Communist Captivity with a Soldier of Panzer-Grenadier Division Großdeutschland
by Alfred Novotny
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New! Audio Version of The Good Soldier
Read by the author, Alfred Novotny
Even more than they do in the book, the Eastern Front experiences of the former Panzergrenadier now come alive against a background of combat sound effects and period music that provide an entirely new experience for those seeking a more intimate familiarity with the author's story.