Students of history will recognize the famous 84th Infantry Division (“The Railsplitter”) of the U.S. Army for having been the home of young Henry Kissinger and his senior mentor Dr Fritz Kraemer, who became my mentor for 23 years in 1979. See more details here.
Now Henry Kissinger writes in the forward of the new book “Home Front to Battlefront- An Ohio Teenager in World War II” by Frank Lavin: “It was in the 84th Division that I first met Fritz Kraemer, the staid Prussian aristocrat who helped start me on the road of serious academic work”.
With the publication of Home Front to Battlefront, we also see it was the home of Pfc Carl Lavin, the father of Frank Lavin.
I first met Frank in 1984 when he was director of the office of President Reagan in the White House, in the Situation Room of the West Wing. He comes from Ohio, is Republican and made a splendid career as US Ambassador to Singapore and Under Secretary at the US Department of Commerce. We became friends. Now he lives in Hongkong and started the e-commerce company ExportNow! in Shanghai.
Unlike Kissinger and Kraemer, his father Carl Lavin never entered the world of grand strategy, serving as a combat rifleman and then returning to his small-town home in Ohio after the war. In some ways, this is what makes the book worth reading.
Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck explains: “There are really two wars,” he wrote, “and they haven’t much to do with each other. There is a war of maps and logistics, of campaigns, of ballistics, armies, divisions, and regiments, – and that is General Marshall’s war.
“Then there is the war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent, common men who wash their socks in their helmets, complain about the food… and lug themselves and their spirit through as dirty a business as the world has ever seen and do it with humor and dignity and courage…”
Home Front to Battlefront concerns that second war. This is the war as seen by one foot solider, Carl Lavin, an American teenager who becomes a combat infantryman.
If you are trying to understand the human dimension of the American GI in WWII, similar in some respects to foot soldiers around the world, Home Front to Battlefront is for you.
I like the book. It is a homage for a father who did not spent his youth in bars but on the battlefield. It touched your heart and emotions.
It is a story of the young GI with all his dreams, hopes and fears.
It is good that his son has collected all the letters and documents now to transfer the personal impressions and know how to the next generations.
It is worth reading and thinking about this brave generation. Young Americans ready to die for the values of America, freedom and peace and the constitution, from all political, racial and religious backgrounds.