So Weit die Füße Tragen

Josef Martin Bauer

München, Germany: Franz Ehrenwirth Verlag KG. Im Bertelsman Lesering, 1957.

Synopsis: 

Arrested by the Russians at the conclusion of World War II, Clemens Forell is sentenced to the lead mines in Novosibirsk in eastern Siberia. Undimmed by the hardships of the train journey east through the frozen wastes, his will to survive and return home to southern Germany drives him to escape his Russian captors. Aided by a German doctor sent to the lead mines, Forell escapes his prison and starts a three-year trek south-westward to return home.

Evaluation: 

A magnificent story made all the more impressive by the fact that it's true. Bauer writes the story as a novel but “Clemens Forell” is a real person who survived the harsh rigors of Siberia to return to his home in Germany. The descriptions of Siberia and her inhabitants are breath-taking, as are the adventures that Forell must brave. The most interesting part is the study of Forell's descent into crime and then rehabilitation at the hands of various people, including a Jew, a German immigrant, and a Russian girl who loved a German soldier. Originally written in German (which I read it in), this book is also available in English and is a magnificent read. (The link above will take you to the English version, As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Escape from a Siberian Labour Camp and His 3-Year Trek to Freedom.)