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Shrapnel : a memoir
Wharton, William.
Adult Nonfiction D811 .W4445 2013

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Cletus Collissen said:
"Shrapnel" by William Wharton is, in part, an edgy and disturbing account of Mr. Wharton’s military service, particularly in western Europe in 1944 and 1945. In part, it is a light hearted account of an ordinary 19 year old assigned to the army infantry. The disturbing part relates to Mr. Wharton’s involvement to some degree in various war crimes. For instance, he was assigned to assist an officer who was interrogating captured SS soldiers and torturing them in the worst way. He may have even murdered some of them. There is no part of the account that includes efforts to stop the torture or seek prosecution of the torture. He also describes leading a squad that took a number of German prisoners captive. For some reason, he left his squad to go back to camp, leaving it and the German prisoners in the charge of his second in command. His squad murdered the prisoners, allegedly in blind retaliation for the Malmedy massacre. These were apparently just German soldiers in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mr. Wharton also describes the sexual abuse and rape of German women. While he claims he tried to stop it. He doesn’t give any information on what, if anything, he did to report it. He also describes widespread theft from civilians and prisoners. His account appears arguably to cast U.S. soldiers as being as bad as the Germans and Russians. It was an interesting, but disturbing read. No wonder he waited until very old age to write it. My father, who was an infantry soldier in Germany in 1945, once told me he never did anything he was ashamed of overseas. I always wondered what he meant. Now I have some idea of what he may have meant. I will never know what he really meant.
posted Sep 14, 2013 at 10:09PM
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