AS A STATEMENT OF HUMANISM
Richert's reflections on his
dire plight in the trenches, taken together with what we learn
about his actions, amount to a deeply felt statement of
humanistic beliefs; beliefs which stood the test of his wartime
experiences. Such beliefs made him highly critical of certain
widely held ideas about war. Ideas which his observations
implied to be myths. These myths, we know, must have been a
necessary kind of remedial solace to the great majority of
Richert's generation both during and after the war: Heroism in
the name of Kaiser und Vaterland and the supposed inferiority of
successfully conveys the depth of his convictions to the reader.
It is reasonable to suppose that he felt compelled to remember
and write down what he had experienced. These two points give
these war memoirs their particular character. Everything he
experienced was of immense importance to him. His account
unfolds in a strictly ordered sequence of events: Incidents in
his day-to-day life; actions attached to the role he was forced
to play in the military; his reflections on both of these.
Although written in the Winter of 1918, the detailed time
references in the text give his account the structure of a
carefully kept diary. Dominik Richert's experiences in the war
ended with his desertion after almost four years of active
service in the trenches. On the night of July 23, 1918, he
crossed over the French lines. For this he was sentenced to
death in his absence by court-martial. He died at the age
of 84 in 1977.
As can be seen from the large number of reviews which the book
has recieved, it has proved itself of interest to both social
and military historians as well as to the
general reader.The following reviews of Beste Gelegenheit zu
Sterben may be cited as examples.
- Times Literay Supplement,
1.7.89 Fear in the 2'renches, Roger
- Die Zeit, 27.10.89 Ein
Denkmal für Deserteure, Volker Ullrich.
- Franfurter Rundschau
3.3.90. Ac.kerer, Alsacien, Deerteur,
Schriftsteller Wolfram Wette.
- War and Literature/Kriea
und Li.eteratur Vol.4 I 1990, Review,
Informationen 2.90 Die lange
Vorgeschichte einer Desei-tion. Wolfram Wette
- Zeitschrift für
Sozialctischichte des 20. und 21 Jahunderts 1.90
Review, Karl Holl
Nouvelles D'Alsace, 24.10.89 Les carnets
de guerre du
fantassin IZichert, Daniel Walther