Guy Walters

Guy Walters on Three Wartime Tales

Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War


Sceptre 352pp £20 order from our bookshop

Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World


Penguin Classics 448pp £20 order from our bookshop

Lost in Shangri-La: Escape from a Hidden World – A True Story

HarperPress 400pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

It has recently become voguish for the relatives of those who lived through the Third Reich to produce books that explore how their family members behaved through those twelve dark years. Most recently, we have seen Martin Davidson’s The Perfect Nazi; Uwe Timm’s In My Brother’s Shadow; and Defying Hitler, Oliver Pretzel’s translation of the memoirs of his father, Sebastian Haffner. The latest addition to this emerging genre is Giles Milton’s Wolfram: The Boy Who Went to War, which tells the story of Milton’s father-in-law, the artist Wolfram Aïchele, who was eight years old when the Nazis came to power (not nine as the book’s jacket states). An artistic prodigy raised by bohemian parents near Pforzheim in Baden-Württemberg, he was torn – like so many young men – from his life in a small town to fight in a big war. Posted first to the Crimea, where he is nearly killed by diphtheria, he then goes to Normandy, where he is almost obliterated in an air raid, and Milton successfully captures Wolfram’s sensitivity as he experiences the crudeness of conflict.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,
    • RT : Joanna Kavenna’s ‘Cooking with Trotsky’s Frying Pan’ in June’s is the most well written and interesting… ,