This WWI Veteran’s Haunting Recount of Killing a Soldier Captures the Sheer Atrocity of War
In this devastatingly powerful interview filmed in 1963, Stefan Westmann, a corporal in the German 29th Infantry Division in WWI, describes the act of killing a French soldier (also a corporal) with a bayonet.
He is recalling the events of an attack in 1915 by his unit, the Infanterie Regiment Nr. 113, against French positions south of the Canal d’Aire in La Bassée, France.
Westmann was awarded the Iron Cross First Class and survived the war. On his return to Berlin he resumed his civilian medical career, but left Germany when Hitler came to power. He settled in Britain, changed his name to Stephen Westman, and ran a successful Harley Street practice. Shortly before he died, he wrote a memoir, Surgeon with the Kaiser’s Army.