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Kurt Vonnegut's Guard at Dresden

When Kurt Vonnegut was a prisoner of war in Dresden, because he spoke German he was assigned to translate between his German guards and his fellow English speaking prisoners. He found his older guards most humane. One of his younger guards was righteous – certain of the virtue of his own cause – fighting for Germany. He viewed Vonnegut and the other prisoners as deserving harsh treatment. Vonnegut complained about one of his fellow prisoners, who was weak from diarrhea, being pushed too hard. As punishment for speaking out, the young German followed Vonnegut around tormenting him by jabbing him in the rear with his fixed bayonet whenever he thought Vonnegut was moving too slowly. This torment went on for days. If Vonnegut had struck back it probably would have meant death, prisoners having been shot for lesser offenses. But Vonnegut controlled himself. And soon the young guard was transferred to the Eastern Front, ending Vonnegut's torture.

About his experiences Vonnegut wrote Slaughterhouse-five: a Children's Crusade in which he refrains from glorifying war or soldiering. The wife of one his fellow prisoners of war was irate with Vonnegut for having started a book about war.  She was sick of men glorifying war and told Vonnegut that he and his buddies had been but babies – Vonnegut's reason for his subtitle, Children's Crusade.

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