Es war einem um jeden leid

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by djweaverbeaver, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. djweaverbeaver Senior Member

    English Atlanta, GA USA

    I was just reading some eyewitnesses accounts given by Soviet citizens and fighters in the Red Army who fought against German soldiers until the latter's capitulation on February 2, 1943. I came across the following statement, and it really threw me for a loop:

    Try as I may, I cannot understand what this portion of the statement means. I've searched in various mono- and bilingual dictionaries, but I have yet to come across a similar expression or construction. I believe it's the um jeden part that is really confusing me. What does this mean? "One felt sorry for everyone who was detailed/assigned to it." Is this right?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
  2. barefootfiona Member

    English & German
    As far as I'm concerned, you've translated "es war einem um jeden leid" correctly. That's how I read it, anyway.
  3. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    Yes. Einem is used as the dative case of man. Es ist mir leid = I am sorry, and es ist einem leid = one is sorry. Notice that he uses man of himself in the relative clause also.

    Um jeden, den man dafür abstellte is just about each guy who one detailed for that duty. He felt sorry for the Russian soldier whom he sent to accompany the Germans who surrendered.
  4. fdb Senior Member

    Cambridge, UK
    French (France)
    This is not about feeling sorry for someone. “Es war einem um jeden leid, den man dafür abstellte” means: “One felt bad (uncomfortable, uneasy) about every man who was detailed off for it”. The point is that so many Germans capitulated in such as short time that the Russians did not have enough men to guard them.
  5. exgerman Senior Member

    English but my first language was German
    That's right.

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