"The Hostage" by C.S. Forester
About the Author: C.S. Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith. Born in Cairo in 1899, he studied medicine at Guy's Hospital but left without a degree and turned to writing as a career.
Forester rose to fame with his Military themed stories during the WW II era. Some of his important works include A Ship of the Line, Flying Colors, Horatio Hornblower Series, and The African Queen.
The Hostage is a beautiful story depicting the mindset of army people during war, the amount of stress their family undergoes. For a change this story is from the perspective of German people and they had to suffer and sacrifice because of the World War II. This story also depicts the love and compassion between the husband and wife.
The story is about Dexter who is a retired General of the German Army, living with his wife during World War II. As the Germans start losing ground at starting of the end of War, he and his wife are astonished to receive an order from Army for Dexter to take the part of Commander. He discusses it with his wife the possibilities of him getting killed and “Law of Hostages”. In those days Germany had a brutal way of making the soldiers obey. According to the law if a soldier deserts the Army, his family would be killed.
Dexter, then departs from his wife, joins the Army. Under his leadership, the German Army keeps the Allies in control. But his battalion suffers a lot of casualties. There is no chance of retreat, as the order from higher officials states that the battalion must remain in its place no matter how huge the number of causalities may be and how low the ammunition may be.
Now the Allies ask the German soldiers to surrender, and if they do, they will be treated properly. Now the onus is on Dexter, who has the chance of saving life of ten thousand soldiers by making them surrender. But his wife’s life is at stake. He must obey his orders or face the fatal Nazi punishments for military disobedience, but can he also save the lives of the ten thousand ordinary German soldiers under his command?
The story comes under the classification of Short Stories and is fast paced and heart rending. The story ends with a sad note but brings out the strength of character which some people may say is missing in today’s world.
1. The Hostage: With Envelope (Travelman Adventure)
2. Lieutenant Hornblower
3. Hornblower : Beat to Quarters
4. Ship of the Line (Hornblower Saga)
5. The African Queen