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Ferdynand Goetel: Men ripped up by the Moloch of war


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

Ferdynand Goetel: Hands off our home, you tracking murderers! Hands off our brains and hearts!


Ferdynand Goetel
From From Day to Day (1926)
Translated by Winifred Cooper


The first harbinger of disaster had been the Austrian mobilization order. A slip pf paper had come and he, a Pole, an absolvent, the father of a family, a citizen, an active member of society, had become nothing in the twinkling of an eye. Or so it seemed to him, at least, when, wept over by wife and family, he pulled on the uniform of a cadet of an army he despised. He went to the front with a storm in his heart, a storm that went on raging as long as, allotted to a field hospital behind the line, he listened to the groans of the men ripped up by bullets. But when the cannon-thunder out-muttered these, when he was hurled, in command of a company, into one battle after another, he felt he was something again, came to grips with the Moloch of war, fraternized with bullets, with entrenchments, with the rattle of flying shrapnel. A star dropped upon his collar, and on his breast a cross, another cross; but he did not ask whence they came or why, taking it all for granted.

Till one day a shell, bursting in the hut where he was quartered for the night with his men, decorated his breast with a ribbon of bright blood.


“Yes, I once loved nature above everything. I can’t compass such violence of passions nowadays. The reason for this would seem to be her long lack of reciprocity, to the point of utter and shameless indifference, during the worst moments of my life. Yes, yes, madam! I remember exquisite mornings when the pale sun shone upon the monstrous slaughter of war; I remember the gigantic steppe, unwilling to nourish the handful of creatures sown upon it…”

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