Zero Hour Z H ERO

Georg Grabenhorst
New Introduction by Robert Cowley
New Afterword by Casey Clabough
“Zero Hour tells us . . . how sensitive young Germans went to fight, how they
suffered and bore up and how, acquiring quick, unforgettable experience on top of
their boyish naïveté, they came against their will to disillusionment.”
—New York Times
An autobiographical novel of World War I experiences in the German ranks, Georg
Grabenhorst’s Zero Hour equates duty with camaraderie and finds a balance between
bitterness and hawkishness. The war is experienced here through the keen eyes of
Hans Volkenborn, a well-bred officer-candidate whose youthful enthusiasm turns
to angst and disillusion. The sole comfort of his experience is fellowship with his
comrades, but even that abates over time.
Grabenhorst recalls specifics of battlefield actions on the western front with a
visceral language that still resonates today. Of particular historical importance are
accounts of combat in the Ypres campaign in 1917 and the futile clashes in the
woods of Aveluy in northern France the following summer as German hopes for
victory faded. But the novel’s greatest success is a vivid description of shell shock,
in this case the result of being briefly buried alive by a mortar round. The condition
ultimately engulfs Volkenborn’s ailing psyche and leaves him tormented, isolated,
and blinded at the war’s end.
Zero Hour was first published as Fahnenjunker Volkenborn in Germany in 1928 and
was translated into English under the current title in the following year. This reissued
edition features a new introduction by Robert Cowley and a new afterword by Casey
Clabough to place the novel in its proper literary and historical contexts.
Zero Hour
Georg Grabenhorst
New Introduction by Robert Cowley
New Afterword by Casey Clabough
Georg Grabenhorst (1899–1997)
served as a probationary officer during
World War I. After the war he earned
a doctorate in philosophy from the
University of Kiel and served as an
executive officer of the Regional
History Society for Lower Saxony and
later with the West German Ministry
of Cultural Affairs. Of the numerous
volumes of fiction and nonfiction
he wrote, only Zero Hour was
subsequently published in English.
The Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Series
Matthew J. Bruccoli, series editor
October 2006, 328 pages
Method of payment:
_____ Check or money order: (payable to USC Press in United States dollars)
Credit Card: _____ Discover _____ Mastercard _____ Visa
Account number: _____________________________________ Exp. Date ________
Signature: ____________________________________________________________
Name (please print): ________________________________ Phone: ____________
Shipping Address: ______________________________________________________
Send me ______ copy/copies
(pb, 1-57003-662-4, $19.95 each) ______
SC residents add 6% sales tax ______
Shipping and Handling* ______
TOTAL ______
*add $5.00 for first book,
$2.00 for each additional book
718 Devine Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29208
800-768-2500 • Fax 800-868-0740 •