Michel Corday: The Truth is the chief victim of war
From The Paris Front (1934)
– They ought to say: “Dead on the Field of Horror.”
– A soldier has been imprisoned for having declared in the trenches that people who are making money out of the war want it to go on.
– Extravagant eulogy is being showered on a Flying officer who brought down sixty aeroplanes, including seven in a single day. The newspapers are frantic in their praises: “A hero…a superman…immeasurable glory…sublime…homage on our bended knees…” I certainly cannot praise the mental attitude which can employ such phrases to glorify a man who has committed sixty murders.
– Refugees are trudging back from the Marne along the road, keeping pace with the cattle they are leading. Interminable and pitiful processions – waggons and herds – a return to the epoch of tribal barbarism, to the nomadic era. The only touch of anachronism was the presence of bicycles.
– There are some soldiers with square helmets wandering about in Paris. They belong to the Czechoslovak Army. A recent issue of the Official Gazette has laid down regulations by which courts martial will judge these soldiers “in the name of the Czechoslovak nation.” So authority’s first concern is how it shall put them to death…that is their birth certificate.
– People refuse to see the utter difference between the present war and all former wars. When the Germans take 45,000 prisoners (a number which formerly would have been enough to decide a whole war), they are only capturing one per cent of their enemies, since the Allies have about 4,5000,000 troops on the front.
– One of the vices which the war has swollen to prodigious size is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is universal – in communiques, in speeches, in articles, even in conversation. It constitutes the official enthronement of Untruth. The Truth is the chief victim of the war.
– Two divisions of “picked troops” were stationed in the Department of the Loire – where they were harshly suppressing strikers – when the German attack of 27th May broke out on the Aisne.
– A manufacturer of munitions who produces aeroplanes, poison gases, motor-launches, and every kind of war material, expressed the following view: if he can be given an assurance that in twenty years of war we could wipe out that nest of vipers – those thirty million Prussians whose only livelihood is war [sic] – he would sign a peace treaty with both hands. How noble is this anxiety for posterity!
– There are some dramatic critics who have appointed themselves military critics for the time being; and why not, since the present war is without precedent in the experience of the whole world? But they will explain the battles to you (after the event) with all the panoply of traditional military terms, such as “column,” “hingeing,” “deploying” and “out-flanking.” Oh, what a monstrous farce it would be but for all the deaths.
– In a further letter, Lord Lansdowne observes: “This war has cost too many human lives. Can we not open negotiations?” Churchill, Minister of Munitions, has replied: “We have thrown into the furnace the flower of the human race. And are we, after that, to undertake amicable negotiations? No!” Thus we must still sacrifice the present generation to the future! And yet the future is hidden from us by such an impenetrable veil! The confusion of thought seems more hateful and stupid every day I live.
– Yesterday I was told that the Americans had captured, lost, and then recaptured Pagny-sur-Moselle. It is estimated that in the engagement at Saint-Mihiel they flung a hundred thousand troops into the line and lost half of them.
– I have been thinking of the anarchist outrages which were so violent between 1980 and 1900. How trivial they seem beside the present massacre, in which twelve million men have already fallen. That ridiculous ideal of destroying the world, in order to build it up again, is half way toward realisation.