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Karl Kraus: The Warmakers

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Karl Kraus: Selections on war

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Karl Kraus
Translated by Karl F. Ross

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The Warmakers

They spent their lives in laughter and play
while ours were put on the line.
They got themselves drunk with blood in the day
and chased it at night with wine.

They feasted and threw their weight about,
considering boredom a crime;
and when their supply of people ran out,
they turned to killing time.

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The Aviator

Destroying an arsenal would be fun,
but what does he hit? A baby.
Eventually he would hit a gun
if he aimed at a nursery. Maybe.

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War Correspondents

What? There is war? We get the news from those
who’re still their abject selves as they report
to us the mood in which they watched the war?
A war horse would consider it beneath
its dignity to kick that creep aside
with its left hind hoof, yet the men on top
receive him, answer meekly what he asks,
and even wine and dine him at their own table
the scum? What? Was what happened not enough
to overcome the enemy within?
He presses to the front? Wins credit for the press?
Presents the war to us, and puts his presence
before the war? He lives, won’t perish, doesn’t serve?
No base camp is set up to drill the base ones?
Is this a war? It looks to me like peace.
The goods one go. The bad ones need not fight.
We cannot let them die, for they can write.

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