Gert Ledig

Published: 15 May 2003
Paperback, B Format
126x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781862075658

Translated by Shaun Whiteside


The effects of an Allied air raid, over seventy minutes, on an unnamed German city in July 1944 are recounted in horrifying detail. As American planes discharge their bombs over the city, far below, in the midst of the inferno, an elderly couple trapped in their appartment try to live out their last moments with dignity. Elsewhere, a man searches desparately for his son, only to run into a troop of drunken soldiers. And as hundreds of civilians wait in an air-raid shelter, an American pilot drifts gently down on his parachute, unaware that he is about to join them ... Payback was one of the first German novels to describe the Allies' bombardment of Germany during the Second World War. Based on Gert Ledig's experiences of German air raids in 1944, and first published in 1956, it paints a savage and unflinching picture of the realities of warfare for ordinary men and women.


‘Gert Ledig found a way of writing which still endures more that fifty years after the Second World War ... his are perhaps the most realistic - and meaningful - German novels about the violence of the war’ Neue Zercher Zeitung



‘Gert Ledig has been unjustly forgotten ... Payback went beyond anything the Germans were willing to read about their recent past ... his deliberately intense, uncompromising style, designed to evoke disgust and revulsion, once again conjured up the ghost of anarchy at a time when the [German post-war] economic miracle was already on its way’ W. G. Sebald

‘In its relentlessness [Ledig's work] outdoes Erich Maria Remarque's All Quite on the Western Front, in the same way that the inhuman horror of the Second World War puts that of the First effortlessly in the shade’

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