What should we do? We have no wish to interrupt the destroyer's work of saving lives... But war is war and the people being picked up out of the water are soldiers bound for the front; soldiers who are to shoot at our German brothers... The question whether we are to perish in despair or defiance, or survive all trails with a live conscience, depends wholly and solely on whether we believe in the forgiveness of sins. This 25th January was the turning point in my life, because it opened my eyes to the utter impossibility of a moral universe.
the source of this quotation notes: On 25th January 1918, Martin Niem
What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine. They are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine. They are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization and disorder on the part of the inferior... jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.
The war, therefore, if we judge it by the standards of previous wars, is merely an imposture. It is like the battles between certain ruminant animals whose horns are set at such an angle that they are incapable of hurting one another. But though it is unreal it is not meaningless. It eats up the surplus of consumable goods, and it helps to preserve the special mental atmosphere that a hierarchical society needs. War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word 'war', therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist. The peculiar pressure that it exerted on human beings between the Neolithic Age and the early twentieth century has disappeared and been replaced by something quite different. The effect would be much the same if the three super-states, instead of fighting one another, should agree to live in perpetual peace, each inviolate within its own boundaries. For in that case each would still be a self-contained universe, freed for ever from the sobering influence of external danger. A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This
It seemed that out of battle I escaped Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped Through granites which titanic wars had groined. Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned, Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred. Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared With piteous recognition in fixed eyes, Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless. And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall, - By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell. With a thousand pains that vision's face was grained; Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground, And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan. 'Strange friend,' I said, 'here is no cause to mourn.' 'None,' said that other, 'save the undone years, The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours, Was my life also; I went hunting wild After the wildest beauty in the world, Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair, But mocks the steady running of the hour, And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here. For by my glee might many men have laughed, And of my weeping something had been left, Which must die now. I mean the truth untold, The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? - Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons. No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells; Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, - The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires. What candles may be held to speed them all? Not in The hands of boys but in their eyes Shall shine The holy glimmers of goodbyes. The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
There are no accidents, only nature throwing her weight around. Even the bomb merely releases energy that nature has put there. Nuclear war would be just a spark in the grandeur of space. Nor can radiation alter nature: she will absorb it all. After the bomb, nature will pick up the cards we have spilled, shuffle them, and begin her game again.
It is certain that the two World Wars in which I have participated would not have occurred had we been prepared. It is my belief that adequate preparation on our part would have prevented or materially shortened all our other wars beginning with that of 1812. Yet, after each of our wars, there has always been a great hue and cry to the effect that there will be no more wars, that disarmament is the sure road to health, happiness, and peace; and that by removing the fire department, we will remove fires. These ideas spring from wishful thinking and from the erroneous belief that wars result from logical processes. There is no logic in wars. They are produced by madmen. No man can say when future madmen will reappear. I do not say that there will be no more wars; I devoutly hope that there will not, but I do say that the chances of avoiding future wars will be greatly enhanced if we are ready.
This war burns our houses. It sows dead executed in open squares and roads. It chases us like hares from refuge to refuge. It will end up by forcing us to fight, to wring out an active approval. And the day will come when nobody will be outside the war, neither cowards, nor the sad, nor the lonely... But I saw the unknown dead, dead members of the Italian Social Republic. If a stranger, an enemy becomes such a thing when he dies, if we stop dead fearing to step over him, it means that even the defeated enemy is someone who after spilling blood must be pacified. This blood must be given a voice and those who spilled it must be justified. It is humiliating to look at certain dead. They are not others