Translated by Shaun Whiteside
The effects of an Allied air raid, over seventy minutes, on an unnamed German city in July 1944 are recounted in horrifying detail. As American planes discharge their bombs over the city, far below, in the midst of the inferno, an elderly couple trapped in their apartment try to live out their last moments with dignity. Elsewhere, a man searches desperately for his son, only to run into a troop of drunken soldiers. And as hundreds of civilians wait in an air-raid shelter, an American pilot drifts gently down on his parachute, unaware that he is about to join them … Payback was one of the first German novels to describe the Allies’ bombardment of Germany during the Second World War. Based on Gert Ledig’s experiences of German air raids in 1944, and first published in 1956, it paints a savage and unflinching picture of the realities of warfare for ordinary men and women.