Private Svoboda: Hope Is The Last To Die
Manufacturer: Rouge River Press
Svoboda’s inspiring story gives the reader a graphic depiction of one soul’s hope to survive another day, every day. All fourteen-year old male eighth graders are taken from a local Austrian school and thrust into the German front lines to battle against the Russians in the two way inhumane slaughter for Leningrad. Starving and freezing to death, the German’s fight forward and in retreat in this creative non-fiction based on Svoboda’s actual experience. Young Alex is wounded and captured alive. His classmates all reach a brutal end. Svoboda survives the unthinkable carnage, endures torture in a POW camp, and escapes to walk back home for months across Siberia in the winter. It is hard to imagine his fifteen-months of hell before even being sixteen years old … or any age! The author blends the innocent thoughts of young boys thrown into the insanity of war in a fashion that keeps the human dynamics and history vividly accurate. Characters are well developed and the near impossible escape across frigid Siberia only succeeds due to a relentless human will, help from herders and hunters, and luck. Svoboda’s remarkable post war lifestyle reveals connections with US Army General Patton. Alex Svoboda becomes a renowned sculpture and artist. Pictures of his work across North America and Canada verify these fascinating details. What an educational read! I recommend this book for a general audience. We all need to know the harsh realities of this historical time and appreciate the sacrifices that shaped the future.
Reviewed by:Hodge Wood (2014)
Based on a true story the book is about a 14-year old boy drafted into Hitler's Army. Trained to kill or be killed young Alex Svoboda and the rest of the boys in his class are sent to fight on the Eastern Front. Naive and excited to be in the war the boys are quickly relieved of any notion of the adventure, romance and heroics of the war. One by one Alex's classmates fall as the deafening weapons of the battlefield expose the brutality of war and the unlikely chances of surviving for another day, another minute.
Captured by the Russians, Alex is among half of the POW's who survive starvation and the winter's blast on the ride into Siberia. When Alex's last two remaining classmates are brutally killed, he loses all caution and escapes into the frozen plains chased by the Russians, wolves, hunters, partisans and hunger.