We automatically mounted the machine gun for action. Then like animals we burrowed into the earth as if trying to find protection deep in its bosom. Something struck my back where I carried my gas mask, but I did not pay attention to it. A steel splinter broke the handle of my spade and another knocked the remains out of my hand. I kept digging with my bare hands, ducking my head every time a shell exploded nearby. A boy to my side was hit in the arm and cried out for help. I crawled over to him, ripped the sleeves of his coat and shirt open and started to bind the bleeding part. The gas was so thick now I could hardly discern what I was doing. My eyes began to water and I felt as if I would choke. I reached for my gas mask, pulled it out of its container – then noticed to my horror that a splinter had gone through it leaving a large hole. I had seen death thousands of times, stared it in the face, but never experienced the fear I felt then. Immediately I reverted to the primitive. I felt like an animal cornered by hunters. With the instinct of self-preservations uppermost, my eyes fell on the boy whose arm I had bandaged. Somehow he had managed to put the gas mask on his face with his one good arm. I leapt at him and in the next moment had ripped the gas mask from his face. With a feeble gesture he tried to wrench it from my grasp; then fell back exhausted. The last thing I saw before putting on the mask were his pleading eyes.
>Corporal Frederick Meisel, 371 Infantry Regiment, 43rd Ersatz Brigade, 10th Ersatz Division, German Army
We automatically mounted the machine gun for action. Then like animals we burrowed into the earth as if trying to find protection deep in its bosom. Something struck my back where I carried my gas mask, but I did not pay attention to it. A steel splinter broke the handle of my spade and another knocked the remains out of my hand. I kept digging with my bare hands, ducking my head every time a shell exploded nearby. A boy to my side was hit in the arm and cried out for help. I crawled over to him, ripped the sleeves of his coat and shirt open and started to bind the bleeding part. The gas was so thick now I could hardly discern what I was doing. My eyes began to water and I felt as if I would choke. I reached for my gas mask, pulled it out of its container – then noticed to my horror that a splinter had gone through it leaving a large hole. I had seen death thousands of times, stared it in the face, but never experienced the fear I felt then. Immediately I reverted to the primitive. I felt like an animal cornered by hunters. With the instinct of self-preservations uppermost, my eyes fell on the boy whose arm I had bandaged. Somehow he had managed to put the gas mask on his face with his one good arm. I leapt at him and in the next moment had ripped the gas mask from his face. With a feeble gesture he tried to wrench it from my grasp; then fell back exhausted. The last thing I saw before putting on the mask were his pleading eyes. And that's how I achieved my first erection, a sense of power I hadn't felt again until I heard your pathetic excuse for a pitch. Which is why I'm going to offer you $10,000 for 70% and I get to conscript your sons and prostitute your daughters to the Turks.
Often the lonely receives love,
The Creator’s help, though heavy with care
Over the sea he suffers long
Stirring his hands in the frosty swell,
The way of exile. Fate never wavers.
The wanderer spoke; he told his sorrows,
The deadly onslaughts, the death of the clan,
“At dawn alone I must
Mouth my cares; the man does not live
Whom I dare tell my depths
Straight out. I see truth
In the lordly custom for the courageous man
To bind fast his breast, loyal
To his treasure closet, thoughts aside.
The weary cannot control fate
Nor do bitter thoughts settle things.
The eager for glory often bind
Something bloody close to their breasts.
“Wretched, I tie my heart with ropes
Far from my home, far from my kinsmen
Since a hole in the ground hid my chief
Long ago. Laden with cares,
Weary, I crossed the confine of waves,
Sought the troop of a dispenser of treasure,
Far or near to find the man
Who knew my merits in the mead hall,
Who would foster a friendless man,
Treat me to joys. He who has put it to a test
Knows how cruel a companion is sorrow
For one who has few friendly protectors.
Exile guards him, not wrought gold,
A freezing heart, not the fullness of the earth.
He remembers warriors, the hall, rewards,
How, as a youth, his friend honored him at feasts,
The gold-giving prince. Joy has perished,
“He knows how it is to suffer long
Without the beloved wisdom of a friendly lord.
Often when sorrow and sleep together
Bind the worn lonely warrior
It seems in his heart that he holds and kisses
The lord of the troop and lays on his knee
His head and hands as he had before
In times gone by at the gift-giver’s throne.
When the friendless warrior awakens again
He sees before him the black waves,
Sea birds bathing, feathers spreading,
Frost and snow falling with hail.
The wounds of his heart are heavier,
Sore after his friends. Sorrow is renewed
When the mind ponders the memory of kinsmen;
He greets them with joy; he anxiously grasps
For something to say. They swim away again.
The breasts of ghosts do not bring the living
Much wisdom. Woe is renewed
For him who must send his weary heart
Way out over the prison of waves.
“Therefore in this world I cannot think of a reason
Why my soul does not blacken when I seriously consider
All the warriors, tested at war,
How they suddenly sank to the floor,
The brave kinsmen. But this world
Every day falls to dust.
No man is wise until he lives many winters
In the kingdom of the world.
The wise must be patient,
Never too hasty with feelings nor too hot with words
Nor too weak as a warrior nor too witlessly brash
Nor too fearful nor too ready nor too greedy for reward
Nor even too feverish for boasting until testing his fibre.
A man should wait before he makes a vow
Until, like a true warrior, he eagerly tests
Which way the courage of his heart will course.
The good warrior must understand how ghostly it will be
When all this world of wealth stands wasted
As now in many places about this massive earth
Walls stand battered by the wind,
Covered by frost, the roofs collapsed.
The wine halls crumbled; the warriors lie dead,
Cut off from joy; the great troop all crumpled
Proud by the wall. One war took,
Led to his death. One a bird lifted
Over the high sea. One the hoary wolf
Broke with death. One, bloody-cheeked,
A warrior hid in a hole in the ground.
Likewise God destroyed this earthly dwelling
Until the strongholds of the giants stood empty,
Without the sounds of joy of the city-dwellers.”
Then the wise man thinks about the wall
And deeply considers this dark life.
From times far away the wanderer recalls
The deadly slashes and says,
“What happened to the horse? What happened to the war-
rior? What happened to the gift-giver?
What happened to the wine hall? Where are the sounds of
Ea-la bright beaker! Ea-la byrnied warrior!
Ea-la the chiefs majesty! How those moments went,
Grayed in the night as if they never were!
A wall still stands near the tracks of the warriors,
Wondrously high! Worms have stained it.
A host of spears hungry for carnage
Destroyed the men, that marvelous fate!
Storms beat these stone cliffs,
A blanket of frost binds the earth,
Winter is moaning! When the mists darken
And night descends, the north delivers
A fury of hail in hatred at men.
All is wretched in the realm of the earth;
The way of fate changes the world under heaven.
Here is treasure lent, here is a friend lent,
Here is a man lent, here is a kinsman lent.
All of the earth will be empty!”
So spoke the wise in heart; he sits alone with his mystery.
He is good to keep faith; grief must never escape
A man’s heart too quickly unless with his might like a true
He has sought a lasting boon. It is best for him who seeks love,
Help from the heavenly Father where all stands firm.
The Wanderer, an Anglo-Saxon poem. Its about a Saxon in service of a Earl who is knocked unconscious in battle and finds himself without a band.
Anglo-Saxon poetry got very dark under Norman rule.
It's always interesting to hear about how men justified their side on a civil war.
This man says he fights to maintain a government won through blood in the war for independence from great Britain.
There was likely a southern man in a similar situation saying that he fights for freedom from foreign rule, just as his fathers did in that same war, and refuses to dishonor that ideal.
While you live, shine
μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ λυποῦ have no grief at all
πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶ τὸ ζῆν life exists only for a short while
τὸ τέλος ὁ χρόνος ἀπαιτεῖ and time demands
“When your mother has grown older,
When her dear, faithful eyes
no longer see life as they once did,
When her feet, grown tired,
No longer want to carry her as she walks –
Then lend her your arm in support,
Escort her with happy pleasure.
The hour will come when, weeping, you
Must accompany her on her final walk.
And if she asks you something,
Then give her an answer.
And if she asks again, then speak!
And if she asks yet again, respond to her,
Not impatiently, but with gentle calm.
And if she cannot understand you properly
Explain all to her happily.
The hour will come, the bitter hour,
When her mouth asks for nothing more.”
Adolf Hitler, 1923
What have I done? If this is a victory, what's a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Did I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other's kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant.... What's this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?
Does this count?
Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, conquered the Kalingas eight years after his coronation. One hundred and fifty thousand were deported, one hundred thousand were killed and many more died (from other causes). After the Kalingas had been conquered, Beloved-of-the-Gods came to feel a strong inclination towards the Dhamma, a love for the Dhamma and for instruction in Dhamma. Now Beloved-of-the-Gods feels deep remorse for having conquered the Kalingas.
Indeed, Beloved-of-the-Gods is deeply pained by the killing, dying and deportation that take place when an unconquered country is conquered. But Beloved-of-the-Gods is pained even more by this — that Brahmans, ascetics, and householders of different religions who live in those countries, and who are respectful to superiors, to mother and father, to elders, and who behave properly and have strong loyalty towards friends, acquaintances, companions, relatives, servants and employees — that they are injured, killed or separated from their loved ones. Even those who are not affected (by all this) suffer when they see friends, acquaintances, companions and relatives affected. These misfortunes befall all (as a result of war), and this pains Beloved-of-the-Gods.
There is no country, except among the Greeks, where these two groups, Brahmans and ascetics, are not found, and there is no country where people are not devoted to one or another religion. Therefore the killing, death or deportation of a hundredth, or even a thousandth part of those who died during the conquest of Kalinga now pains Beloved-of-the-Gods. Now Beloved-of-the-Gods thinks that even those who do wrong should be forgiven where forgiveness is possible.
Yeah, I suppose so.
I was hoping for more "personal" notes and writings. As the OP's, where it's more of lamentation through personal & first hand experience. Sorry if it's a bit picky, but it's an odd feeling I get when reading about the lamentations, a bit dramatic, sort of like reading the tragedies of a father killing their son by accident in a play or the like.
I saw things that I won't forget for as long as I live. It started with a loud strange noise that sounded like bombs exploding, and a man came running into our house, shouting, 'Gas! Gas!' We hurried into our car and closed its windows. I think the car was rolling over the bodies of innocent people. I saw people lying on the ground, vomiting a green-colored liquid, while others became hysterical and began laughing loudly before falling motionless onto the ground. Later, I smelled an aroma that reminded me of apples and I lost consciousness. When I awoke, there were hundreds of bodies scattered around me. After that I took shelter again in a nearby basement and the area was engulfed by an ugly smell. It was similar to rotting garbage, but then it changed to a sweet smell similar to that of apples. Then I smelled something that was like eggs.
When you hear people shouting the words 'gas' or 'chemicals' -- and you hear those shouts spreading among the people -- that is when terror begins to take hold, especially among the children and the women. Your loved ones, your friends, you see them walking and then falling like leaves to the ground. It is a situation that cannot be described -- birds began falling from their nests; then other animals, then humans. It was total annihilation. Whoever was able to walk out of the town, left on foot. Whoever had a car, left by car. But whoever had too many children to carry on their shoulders, they stayed in the town and succumbed to the gas.
The quintessential classic "War is Hell" work is All Quiet on the Western Front, of course—WWI as told by a veteran and with little sugar-coating.
To draw from WWII, there's With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, Eugene Sledge's memoirs, and Helmet for My Pillow, by Robert Leckie, both of which were primary sources for HBO's The Pacific.
If you really want to understand the modern infantry, though, look no further than David Bellavia's House to House. Generation Kill is another good look at modern war, and just how batshit crazy some parts of it can be.
Seconding Generation Kill. At times it seems like it's sensationalizing the whole conflict, but that's how shot actually went down. The marines that the reporter talked to were even reprimanded.
Also, if you're interested in something that's the polar opposite of All Quiet, look no further than Ernst Junger's Storm of Steel. The guy was as tough as nails but there were things that terrified even him. It's a great read for every WW I fan.
Heard ye the scream of our shells in the night, and the shuddering crashes ?
Saw ye our work by the roadside, the shrouded things lying,
Moaning to God that He made them — the maimed and the dying ?
Husbands or sons,
Fathers or lovers, we break them. We are the guns!'
We are the guns and ye serve us. Dare ye grow weary,
Steadfast at night-time, at noon-time; or waking, when dawn winds blow dreary
Over the fields and the flats and the reeds of the barrier-water,
To wait on the hour of our choosing, the minute decided for slaughter ?
Swift, the clock runs;
yea, to the ultimate second. Stand to your guns!
>Storm of Steel
Gah, how could I have forgotten that one?
"As we advanced, we were in the grip of a berserk rage. The overwhelming desire to kill lent wings to my stride. Rage squeezed bitter tears from my eyes. The immense desire to destroy precipitated a red mist in our brains. We called out stuttering fragments of sentences to one another, and an impartial observer might have concluded that we were all ecstatically happy."
Ozymandias hits me in a strange way about how fragile and forgotten life can be once one passes-- the desire for about legacy and an impact, that I currently feel lacking of impact and/or purpose.
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
"The mortality in Siena began in May. It was a cruel and horrible thing. . . . It seemed that almost everyone became stupefied seeing the pain. It is impossible for the human tongue to recount the awful truth. Indeed, one who did not see such horribleness can be called blessed. The victims died almost immediately. They would swell beneath the armpits and in the groin, and fall over while talking. Father abandoned child, wife husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through breath and sight. And so they died. None could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could, without priest, without divine offices. In many places in Siena great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude of dead. And they died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in those ditches and covered with earth. And as soon as those ditches were filled, more were dug. I, Agnolo di Tura . . . buried my five children with my own hands. . . . And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world."
"Alas! our ships enter the port, but of a thousand sailors hardly ten are spared. We reach our homes; our kindred…come from all parts to visit us. Woe to us for we cast at them the darts of death! …Going back to their homes, they in turn soon infected their whole families, who in three days succumbed, and were buried in one common grave. Priests and doctors visiting…from their duties ill, and soon were…dead. O death! cruel, bitter, impious death! …Lamenting our misery, we feared to fly, yet we dared not remain."
All Quiet wasn't intended as a pacifist novel. Remarque used Junger's novel extensively, seeing how he wasn't on the frontlines all that often. Junger on his part was quite surprised when people took the two books as polar opposites. While early versions of "Storm of Steel" might be read as a glorification of war it really isn't, more like a glorification of life that thrives in all circumstances. Junger revised the later versions to be more clearly impartial, although he probably owes his life to the book - it was Hitler's favourite, and made the Fuhrer spare Junger's life when it was found out that he participated in July 22nd plot.
Heaven brings forth innumerable things to nurture man.
Man has nothing good with which to recompense Heaven.
Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill. Kill.
Alleged Suicide Poem of Anti-Qing rebel leader, Zhang Xianzhong. Written after he ordered his rebels to kill civilians, then each other, then survivors behead his generals, and then finally himself.
>I meant that Junger can come off as a bit of a psycopath sometimes.
He definitely was a bit of one. Some other guy wrote that he collected acquaintances like he collected his beetles.
He was a deeply moral person though, just a bit cold and centered on aesthetics.
>Alright, everyone get into groups of three. We're handing out gas masks in preparation for the enemy's gas attack.
>"Oh, sorry anon. Our group is full."
>The events surrounding Zhang Xianzhong's rule and afterwards devastated Sichuan, where he was said to have "engaged in one of the most hair-raising genocides in imperial history". Lurid stories of his killings and flayings were given in various accounts. According to Shu Bi (蜀碧), an 18th-century account of the massacre, after every slaughter, the heads were collected and placed in several big piles, while the hands were placed in other big piles, and the ears and noses in more piles, so that Zhang Xianzhong can keep count of his killings. In one incident, he was said to have organized an imperial examination ostensibly to recruit scholars for his administration, only to have all the candidates which numbered many thousands killed. In another, to give thanks for his recovery after an illness, he was said to have cut off the feet of many women. The severed feet were heaped in two piles with those of his favorite concubine, whose feet were unusually small, placed on top, and these two piles of feet were then doused in oil and set alight to be what he called "heavenly candles".
dude what the fuck
That guy was a winner.
>gain control of a province
>once the central authorities eventually send a force to depose you, blame the people in the province for it
>order your military to begin killing people that you allege to have cooperated with the central government
>order your military to begin killing entire cities
>keep ordering your military to kill civilians until none are left
>order your military units to attack each other
>continue until there's no military left
Speaking of Vietnam.