Home > Uncategorized > Georges Duhamel: No man desires war…but if there’s money to be made…

Georges Duhamel: No man desires war…but if there’s money to be made…


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

Georges Duhamel: Selections on war


Georges Duhamel


From The Masters (1937)
Translated by Béatrice de Holthoir

When there is a war it is always the young who are sent to be killed; the excuse given is that the old aren’t fit to send. That may be so. We shall see that later on, perhaps. But I’m quite positive that the young are sent to their death because the very young have a prodigal disregard for the value of life. Young men are much more willing to die that old men. Young men have not yet grown attached to life. They will grow old, they will taste of sorrow and pain and humiliation, and, it is a dreadful thing to say, they will begin to love life, this wretched life, and they will not have the faintest wish to die.


From Cécile Among Us (1938)
Translated by Béatrice de Holthoir

“The article must go in at once, d’you hear? Straightaway, at once. Just time for the blocks to be made. Just imagine, they might stop their war dead. You can never be sure with these monkey tricks of diplomacy. The armistice is dragging on. Well, if the war stops, I shall have had all my outlay for nothing…What you must make much of is the humanitarian side of the business…”

“Now you’re going to follow up with your journalist fellow and feed him the dope. Lay it on thick. You’ve heard the style, the tone, and the pace, Mairesse. That’s the sort of thing you ought to be capable of on your own from beginning to end. This fellow is just a worm. We’re making him a present of a magnificent article, a scoop. So don’t go talking about a fee; besides, he won’t dare claim anything, he wouldn’t have the spunk. The article must appear on Thursday. Mind, two copies straightaway to the Bulgarian Legation. And a copy to each member of the corps diplomatique. Personal mail on good paper to the entire press. Bulgaria, of course, won’t utter a sound, but it’s more than likely that Craig and Websters will lose their order…You look staggered, my good man. Unbelievable! Now come, you know quite well that Germany is the country that’s supplying munitions to Turkey. She can’t furnish them direct to Bulgaria. That’s where we come in, we undertake to deliver the good old German trash to Sofia. Craig and Websters will feel the draught. What delights me in a piece of business like this, Mairesse, is that from the point of view of humanitarianism it’s perfect. I’m only too pleased to to support the cause of humanity, isn’t that so? I have three children myself and, after all, I’m no worse than any other fellow; as a matter of fact, as a father, I’m rather tender-hearted. I don’t want any country to be plunged into war. No man desires war. But if a war is already declared, and a war is actually going on, and there are people making money out of it, then I certainly can’t see why I shouldn’t have my share…”

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