Such... Is Life
by Willy Schneider
Trafford Publishing

"He was a pleasant young fellow from a ranch near Calgary, and he always told me excitedly about Canada; the wide open spaces and his parents' ranch. Perhaps, when all this war nonsense was over, I could come to visit him?"

Willy Schneider was a young boy when his grandmother Oma first kicked him out of the house. It was winter, and he had no warm clothes. Eventually Willy was found by the police and sent home—but due to his grandmother's notorious temper and reputation with the police, Schneider paid a price. He was punished, and that punishment didn't stop until his mother got the gumption to move out of Oma's house.

Eventually, Schneider was drafted into the army and fought for Germany during World War II. His army stint ended when the war ended (the German army's command had collapsed at this point), and he found himself commiserating with the enemy: Canadians. Touchingly, he gave his 7.65 mm pistol to a Canadian, who invited him to visit. Then he went home, a war-torn Germany that was under Soviet occupation. His hometown was now in what was East Germany. Eventually, Schneider immigrated to West Germany and then on to Canada, where he has lived since.

Schneider is not a poetic writer, but his memoir is well-organized and he has a fine command of English, and he clearly relishes in telling his tale. He devotes a good deal of the book to his exploits in World War II, and it's these stories that are the most engrossing—perhaps in part because stories from everyday Germans during this period are lost in the sea of the history's canon devoted to the Allies' side of the story.

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