Just look at that cover art. What does it say to you? To me, it looks like a story set in a Nazi concentration camp, wherein the female prisoners are subjected to all sorts of medical experiments – mostly of a sexual nature. The girl is disrobing, while the doctor and the Nazi officer leer at her. I imagine (you can’t see it in the illustration) in the Nazi’s right hand is a whip or a riding crop. This girl is in for a rough old time, and is about to be subjugated to horrors that we can not possibly even imagine. You can plainly see why I was drawn to reading material such as this – sorry it’s a character flaw.
But you know the old saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover. In this case it is very much true. The swastika covered The Naked Earth, is in fact an English translation of a German book called Der Arzt von Stalingrad(1956) – the Doctor of Stalingrad, and it is really the story of German prisoners in Stalingrad P.O.W. camp, and the medical team who strive in harsh conditions, with little or no equipment, to treat his patients in a humane way. It is a German equivalent of Weary Dunlop’s story (Australian readers will know to whom I am referring).
So here’s the blurb from inside the book:
The grim and horrifying background of this book is the giant prisoner-of-war camp at Stalingrad, with it thousands of German prisoners. It is the tragic story of a band of medical men who, in the icy winters and under primitive conditions, with insufficient instruments, cut off from all medical supplies, almost starving, without hope for themselves, knew only one duty – to help others.
Many people have co-operated on this work, including former German prisoners of war whose experiences the author has collected during years of research to produce this book, written in the terse, hard, and realistic language the subject demands.
As you have read, the cover, and the actual story content do not match at all, and I am sure that those who bought the book seeking slightly perverted lascivious thrills were sadly disappointed. Instead they got a piece of reasonable literature, that told a war story from the perspective of the other side.