In a Nutshell: Novella about one day in the life of three German soldiers. Written in the first person from one point of view.
On a freezing day during a Polish winter, three German soldiers out 'hunting' find a young Jewish man hidden in a hole. After his capture, hungry and tired, they make camp in a deserted hovel, where they break up furniture and doors in order to make a fire and cook the little food they have into a soup. Soon, a guest arrives: a Pole, who displays great animosity towards the Jew, and offers his bottle of alcohol for a share of their meal.
The novella, which I would say took me about two or three hours to read altogether, centres around that cold afternoon and evening in the hovel, while the five wait for the meal to cook and, finally, get to eat. The German soldiers are portrayed not as monsters, but simply as men trying to find a way to sleep at night, in view of what they must do. Of the three, Bauer is the most ruthless and jaded; I had the impression that he has only become so because of the horrors of the holocaust. Emmerich, on the other hand, is plagued by guilt and fear about the effects of their actions on the rest of his life.
The brutality of their existence, and those of the Pole and the Jew, underlined for me once again how we in the Western world in the present day know so little about true hardship. It's beautifully written, highly atmospheric, a story that will stay with me for some time.