No Hero for the Kaiser

No Hero For the Kaiser, written by Rudolf Frank and published in 1931, is set during World War I.

The protagonist is a teenage Polish boy named Jan. His entire world is turned upside down when his home village is destroyed in a battle. He is then adopted by a German artillery unit and the book follows his exploits on both the eastern and western fronts.

This is an anti-war novel written for children. It is just as gruesome as Elfen Lied.


No Hero For the Kaiser contains examples of :

  • Anyone Can Die: A recurring theme.
  • But Now I Must Go: The ending.
  • Badass Normal: Jan is eventually viewed by practically everyone else as this.
  • Banned in China: The book was banned in Nazi Germany.
  • High Octane Nightmare Fuel: Many scenes qualify, but those of Jan, when he's in the hospital, stand out.
  • Narm: Unfortunately yes. Comparing bullets killing people with "sneaky gnats"?
  • Never Trust a Title: Not this one, or the current German one (Der Junge, der seinen Geburtstag vergaß - The boy who forgot his birthday). Talking about the original title here, which was actually "Der Schädel des Negerhäuptlings Makaua" - The skull of the negro chief Makaua. (Yes, this book was written before political correctness had been invented.)
  • War Is Hell: The entire point of the book.
  • World War I: Set in both the Eastern and Western fronts.