The British Library website has a number of images devoted to Walter Flex from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. The most moving are a series of photographs of the map that was in Flex’s possession when he was fatally shot with the bullet hole clear to see:
Trees, swampland, lakes, villages and cottages are all marked on this map of the Baltic island Saaremaa, offshore from Estonia and at the time under Russia. Flex and his division had landed in October 1917 and after three days of struggling, the Russians surrendered their arms. All but one soldier surrendered their arms: the remaining man refused and shot Flex down. The bullet tore his right forefinger off, entered his body and became lodged near his stomach. He wrote a last line: ‘Dear parents! I dictate this postcard as I’m slightly wounded at the forefinger of my right hand. Besides this, I am well off. There’s no room for worry whatsoever. Love, Walter.’ He died the next day, aged just 30, due to his internal injuries.
Walter Flex’s The Wanderer between the Two Worlds is the best known of the author’s works in English, especially now thanks to the brilliant translation by Brian Murdoch, but his other writings are equally charming. Here is a Youtube video of his “Das Weihnachtsmärchen des 50. Regiments”:
Release date: August 4
Rott Publishing is very proud to publish the first English translation of Walter Flex’s The Wanderer between the Two Worlds.
The Wanderer between the Two Worlds is a story of romantic idealism and homoerotic friendship set against the backdrop of Germany’s war on the Eastern front. The book was an instant best-seller when it was published in 1916.
One of the first novellas about the war to be published in German, it is a work of considerable lyrical beauty, despite its later popularity with the Nazis (a poem from it was read on German state radio on 30 April 1945 at the announcement of Adolf Hitler’s death). Its publication in English is an important literary event.
It has been translated by Brian Murdoch, the acclaimed translator of Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.