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Literature / Gerfaut War

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French publisher Gerfaut published a collection of war novels from the 1960s to the 1980s. All of them were written by French and Spanish writers who used German-sounding (sometimes Russian-sounding) pseudonyms. Enrique Sánchez Pascual is one of the best known, using the alias "Karl von Vereiter", and he is also known for writing nazisploitation fiction.

The largest number of these novels, by far, take place during World War II, on the Eastern Front more specifically, from Operation Barbarossa (the German invasion of USSR in June 1941) to the fall of Berlin in May 1945, although other settings of the war such as North Africa and Asia and the Pacific are also used, as well as the 1950s Indochina War. The Holocaust also shows up here and there.

Pulp influences are noticeable, and Artistic License – History and Artistic License – Military range from believable to plain ludicrous, very much in the same vein as the likes of Sven Hassel. There are about six hundred books in total.

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The Gerfaut War collection provides examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: The stories often feature a squad of soldiers as protagonists. By the end, one or several of them will be dead.
  • Armchair Military: German or Soviet soldiers alike often talk about their superiors sending them in foolish and pointless offensives as Cannon Fodder.
  • Hopeless War: The closer the novels get to May 1945, the more hopeless the war is for German soldiers.
  • "Join the Army", They Said: When new German recruits arrive on the front, they realize the huge gap between what propaganda told them and the grim reality they are now facing.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Whenever there are female protagonists or at least women who play important parts in the novels, expect them to be featured on the cover this way. Here's a perfect example.
  • Rape as Drama: A great many female protagonists (mostly German war auxiliaries, Eastern European civilians and secret agents of both sides) end up victims of rape. And some of them take revenge.
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  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Practiced on both German and Soviet sides.
  • La Résistance: Some novels concern groups of partisans who resist against Germans (or fight each other) from central Europe to Belarus. They can be shown as heroic in some novels, and just little better than the worst Nazis in others.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The novel La Barrière de Feu (Barrage of Fire) features a German subterranean base that can launch multiple V2 rockets simultaneously, on the Eastern front. No such thing existed in Real Life. Most V2 rockets were used on the Western front, and they were launched individually on dedicated mobile outdoor launching pads (in order to avoid Allied air raids) and not from subterranean bases.
  • Tank Goodness: The firepower and armor thickness of mid-to-late war German and Soviet battle tanks is often brought up.
  • Thematic Series: The novels are not part of a single common narrative arc, they only share the war setting and military tropes.
  • War Is Hell: The collection's Central Theme, what with the prime example that was the Eastern Front of World War II.

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