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Franz Werfel: Waging currish, cowardly war to plunder the poor

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

Franz Werfel: Selections on war

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Franz Werfel
From The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933)
Translated by Geoffrey Dunlop

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The power of any warrior race is dependent on magic belief in invincibility, and the morale engendered by it. So that, for those who take the sword, every value totters with a defeat, and their very foundations seem to crumble…

“…You have made a few superficial investigations into the essence of the chemical elements. And what happens, then – when you act from your imperfect knowledge? You manufacture the poison gases, with which you wage your currish, cowardly wars. And is it any different with your flying-machines? You will only use them to bomb whole cities to the ground. Meanwhile, they only serve to nourish usurers and profit-makers, and enable them to plunder the poor as fast as possible…

“…Since politics, industry, agriculture, military science – what is all that but the fabrication of dung, even though perhaps the dung may be necessary. If you take his dung away from a human animal, what remains in his soul is the worst possible agony, boredom! He can’t stand himself. And that boredom produces everything bad in the world, political hatred, mass murder!…”

“Render unto Caesar – ”

“But what is Caesar’s – apart from a worn-out penny piece? Christ was too wise to tell us that. No! No! the peoples are the slaves of their racial differences. And their flatterers, who want to live off them, intensify such things and stimulate their vanity. As though there were any special merit in being born a dog or a cat, a turnip or a potato. Jesus Christ, Who gives us the eternal example of the divine man, only put on human form in order to conquer it. So that on earth only the true sons of Gods should rule, from the very fact that they have conquered their race, their earthly conditioning…”

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