Home > Uncategorized > Maxim Gorky: World war and racial conflict on an obscure, infinitesimal planet

Maxim Gorky: World war and racial conflict on an obscure, infinitesimal planet


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

Russian writers on war

Maxim Gorky: Selections on war


Maxim Gorky
From The Specter (1938)
Translated by Alexander Bakshy


How insignificant were the little affairs of the Nogaitzevs, the Frolenkovs, and the peasants of the village of Pesochnoye compared with the drama being enacted in the north of France, threatening the downfall of Paris, “the Athens of the world.” Should the Germans win, not only would the French be economically impoverished for the second time, but they would be brought to their knees…Yes, Such a blow would affect the future of all Europe, and consequently the fate of all humanity. Quite possibly the Germans, omitting revolution, would create their own Napoleon and set out to conquer the whole of Europe. At the same time, Japan would start the conquest of Asia. The future of humanity was menaced with racial conflict and struggle. And if one bore in mind that all this was taking place on an infinitesimal planet lost in a limitless universe of thousands of gigantic constellations, of millions of planets, among them the earth quite probably the only speck of dust upon which man had been granted life – and then not more than fifty or sixty years to the individual –


“A lot of us here can’t understand the cause of this war. Of course, as you said last night,the Germans don’t like the Russians. But what Germans are they? A merchant, particularly a big, wholesale merchant – he doesn’t need to like people. Forgive our way of looking at things, but a commercial man likes commerce. A manufacturer likes manufacturing. Frolenkov likes building boats. For instance, he’s got an idea about building a barge for shallow water so that it would float on the surface without drawing water – understand? Every one has to like his own work. Now, I sell geese. My geese live and are fed in the Minchuk and Lithuanian districts. That is close to the Germans.”

“Some people are here are saying the Czar is trying to punish the Germans for interfering with us in the Turkish War. They say his grandfather stretched out his hand for Constantinople, and the Germans stopped him. Then the English were hand in glove with the Germans, but now they are against them. So they said to the Czar: Go ahead and take Constantinople, only beat the Germans. And the French – they spoke right out. They said: Take what you like, only rid us of the Germans.”

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