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Alfred Döblin: The old grim cry for war


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

Alfred Döblin: The law and the police are at the service of the war state and its slavery

Alfred Döblin: War is not ineluctable fate

Alfred Döblin: We march to war, Death folds his cloak singing: Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.


Alfred Döblin
From November 1918: A German Revolution
Return of the Frontline Troops (Heimkehr der Fronttruppen) (1949)
Translated by John E. Woods


The old grim cry for war

The League of Nations was formed. Soviet Russia was excluded. America excluded itself, Germany was not on hand.

Clemenceau later declared:

“I admit we did not enter this war with a plan of liberation. The czar was on our side, after all. But with the collapse of Russia, and after Brest-Litovsk, our war was transformed into a war of liberation. We were victorious.

“But piece by piece the scaffolding of peace fell apart.

“The military solidarity of the three powers, America, England and France, was rejected by America, silently abandoned by England, and both facts silently accepted by France.

“The victory has been transformed into defeat.”

Lloyd George declared in 1922 that France was maintaining too many troops considering Germany had only a small army of 100,000 men. In reality Germany offered no reasonable pretext for armament on that scale. Lloyd George bewailed a Germany that had a population as large as that of Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia combined and possessed an army only one-seventh as strong as theirs.

On October 4, 1925, delegates from France, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany met together in Locarno, Switzerland, and ratified a treaty that guaranteed the inviolability of their borders, and they swore never to attack one another.

In September 1926 Germany was admitted to the League of Nations, marking the end of military control over the Reich.

Several months later France spent seven billion francs for its defense, for the building of a steel wall that was to extend from the North Sea to the Mediterranean.

And already in February 1927 the Belgian foreign minister, Van der Velde, raised a public outcry at the alarming rate at which Germany had begun to arm itself, stating that they were planning a rapid invasion of Belgium.

But the German minister of defense, Gessler, answered, “The intention of the nations along our borders is to attack us rapidly and to penetrate deeply within the first few days of a war.”

And more and more the dagger in an iron fist rips away at the thin wall of paper, the wall of parchment that the world of peace has wrapped around itself.

The hard, strong arm is already pushing its way through the jagged hole.

And the hairy chest, the flat, sloping shoulders and the throat become visible. And this creature, half animal, half man, this gorilla with its flattened black face, with its deep-set devilish eyes beneath massive ledges of bone and its low receding brow, with teeth bared, this human animal rises up to full height.

Its eyes glitter.

A grim, bloodcurdling cry emerges from its throat, floating out over mankind, the cry of war – the raging death rattle, the triumphant howl of the unredeemed creature.

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