“Cubs” in War

  American writer Irving Shaw (1913-1984) was born into a Jewish family in New York. During his time at Brooklyn University, he tried writing. In 1936, his first major play “Burying the Dead” was staged and was a huge success. The show’s absurd portrayal of six soldiers who died in the war refused to be buried, claiming that society did not give them any chance to realize their dreams. Despite pleas from their families and orders from higher-ranking officers, the soldiers refused to go into the ground. At the end of the play, six soldiers and their gravediggers walked off the stage with their heads held high, highlighting the anti-war theme of the play. The play made an attempt on the theme of Owen Shaw’s later writing “The Lion Cub”. During World War II, Shaw enlisted in the army and served successively in Africa, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, rising from First Class to Warrant Officer. After the war ended in 1945, Xiao resumed his work. In 1948, he published his first and most influential novel “The Lion Cub”.
  The novel takes the experiences of two American soldiers and an Austrian German soldier in World War II as clues, reflecting the appearance of World War II from the end of 1937 to the eve of Germany’s surrender in 1945. For Americans, after the glorious and great World War II, people look forward to the emergence of masterpieces like Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”, with profound understanding and introspection like World War I. So, before The Lion Cub was published, some critics wrote in advance, predicting that it would be the best novel about World War II. Although the novel was less artistically accomplished, it became one of the best-selling war novels of its time, and it became quite popular when it was adapted into a film.
  The Lion Cubs, like many World War II novels, attempted to write a war epic on a grand scale. The three protagonists of the novel were originally separated from each other and never knew each other, but on the eve of the end of the war, they magically met outside a German concentration camp and killed each other. Michael Whitaker was a liberal New York intellectual with a prosperous life and a bright future as a writer for Hollywood and Broadway. When the U.S. entered the war, he talked about art and politics at cocktail parties while finding excitement in women and fine wine. Feeling guilty about his way of life, he signed up for the military, but while still in boot camp, he began to tire of the war. He used extensive personal connections to transfer himself to non-combat units. While other soldiers were fighting in Normandy, he was holding a beautiful French girl in the streets of Paris. Unfortunately, he was hit by a truck, but he won a medal for it. After encountering another soldier Noah Ackerman, he was moved by his attitude towards war and decided to accompany him to the front line. But on the battlefield, he was cowardly and timid, not like a soldier at all, and only depended on Noah’s care to save his life. After Noah was shot by a German soldier, Whitaker rushed up and killed the German soldier to avenge Noah. Only then did he seem to have achieved spiritual sublimation.
  Jew Noah Ackerman was introverted and lived in poverty and exile before the war. As soon as he appeared in the novel, he was waiting in front of his dying father’s sick bed. Later, when he met a charming and loyal wife, he experienced the joy of life. After being drafted into the army, Noah was insulted and bullied by other soldiers in the army because of his Jewish origin. Although he is weak, he still duels one by one with the ten strongest soldiers in the company for the sake of dignity. At the cost of all the bruises, he won the trust and respect of his comrades. Thereafter, he proved himself a brave soldier in the D-Day landings. Even when the injury was sent to the rear for treatment, he still managed to get back to the front, to the platoon he was in, because he believed his former buddies were still waiting for him. During the battle, his tenacity and determination enabled him to survive in all kinds of perilous situations, and in the end he still became a casualty of the war.
  German soldier Christian Distel has the perseverance and strength of a soldier. He was a ski instructor in the early days of the war, and he very much supported the Nazis’ ideas, believing that they represented truth and justice. During the war, he experienced the test of life and death, participating in the campaign to conquer France and the operation of the African Legion. When the German army showed signs of failure, he experienced the difficulty of survival in a series of hasty retreats. In the process of practicing Nazism, Christian’s sense of morality also plummeted: from the first fornication with his boss’s wife, to the ruthless killing of enemy soldiers on the battlefield, until finally abandoning his comrades and fleeing alone, killing innocent civilians, and betraying friends. After shooting Noah, he was also killed by Whitaker. Christian has always been a fanatical believer in Nazism. His adherence to the duties of the soldiers is in stark contrast to the position of the German army he represents, and also overturns the US military’s propaganda against the German army, showing that the German soldiers are not all cowards without combat effectiveness. Among them were very competent and excellent soldiers.
  Xiao said in an interview with the American “Book Digest” magazine in 1979 that he used one third of the novel to describe the combat effectiveness and martial spirit of the German army, with no other purpose, but to highlight the paradoxical nature of the war. ——War is blind destruction, and destruction means burning jade and stone.
  The Lion Cubs continue the anti-war stance of mainstream American war fiction. The novel points out that the war destroys not only the evil German troops, but also the American troops representing justice. The term “lion cub” comes from the Bible, when God punished the people of Nineveh by saying: “Look, I am against you, and I will burn your chariots into smoke, and the sword will devour your lion cubs. Destroy your prey on the ground, so that the voice of your messenger can no longer be heard.” In Owen Shaw’s writings, God has long abandoned the warlike human beings, and the world is only left with human beings who have lost God’s care and guidance. carnage. As Mr. Lu Gusun said in the postscript of the translation of the novel: “Owen. Shaw took this as the title, and the implication is to transcend the narrow boundary between the enemy and the enemy, and treat the German and American soldiers as cannon fodder, as the overriding desire for survival. Transformed people to express. Whether Germans or Americans, all soldiers are like ‘lion cubs’, and the opposite side is machine guns, artillery, bombs, tanks and other materialized punishment forces.”
  Whether it is the American army or the German army, their commanders are indifferent to the lives of ordinary soldiers. The bombs of the US military not only bombarded the Germans indiscriminately, but also threw them at the US soldiers; in order to find out the enemy’s situation, the army did not hesitate to sacrifice their soldiers as living targets to attract firepower. Knowing that there was only one dead end, German officer Hardenberg let 37 soldiers futilely dig the bunker that would later become their grave, but drove away by himself. War robs soldiers of the beautiful humanity in their lives. The novel shows that whether it is the US military or the German army, they are all a part of the war machine started by their government, and they are a small pawn that their government can sacrifice and move at will. Machine guns, cannons, bombs, tanks, and later aircraft, which were frequently used in warfare, were symbols of state totalitarianism. The enemy of a soldier is not so much the soldier with whom he fights, but his own government, his own army. This theme has emerged from Ambrose Beers’s Civil War novel “In Life” and later developed to its extreme in Joseph Heller’s Catch 22.
  The novel also describes the phenomenon of racial discrimination within the US military, especially the discrimination and exclusion of Jews. World War II was a war that Americans were proud of. It has always been regarded as a just war, a war in which the people of the world united against the Nazi oppression of Jews. But there is still serious racial discrimination, especially hostility to Jews, in the American army, the army of justice that went to Germany to save the Jews, which cannot help but make people think. The Jewish youth Noah was hated by various anti-Jewish sentiments in the army, and it was only through his personal efforts that he won the respect of others. At the end of the novel, the victory of the anti-fascist war is in sight, but in the Jewish concentration camps just liberated by the US military, anti-Semitic forces still exist, preventing Jews from holding traditional ceremonies. If it is said that the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis created a tragic disaster in human history, and the resistance of the people of the world deserved it, then the United States, as a teacher of justice, went to denounce the Nazis in Germany, it was only for its own sake. One of the most beautiful and grandiose excuses that interests seek. What the United States and the Allies really care about may not be the fate of the Jews, but their own interests. Therefore, the anti-Semitic phenomenon described in “The Lion Cubs” is not simply a criticism of racial discrimination in Western society, but a more profound criticism of the real purpose of the United States and the Allied forces involved in the war.