Home > Uncategorized > Alfred Neumann: Debunking the glory of twenty murderous years, the greatest mass-murderer in history

Alfred Neumann: Debunking the glory of twenty murderous years, the greatest mass-murderer in history


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

Alfred Neumann: Selections on war


Alfred Neumann
From Empire (1936)
Translated by Eden and Cedar Paul


Critical historiographers of a new school are appearing on the scene, thrusting aside eagles, battles, Grand’ Armée and gloire, limning the portrait of the political dictator. Since this portraiture is effected in the name of political liberty, it is a most disagreeable picture, surrounded by all the victims the hungry idol demanded, by the hecatombs of twenty murderous years – for the Consulate and the First Empire, taken together, last well-nigh twenty years. In the wake of this illuminating new science came popular pamphlets, not talking this time of murderous years, but of the greatest mass-murderer in history. Since, however, the web of which legend is woven is at once as tough as bunting and as tenuous as a fairy-tale, and so abundant that it waves wide and high above the realm of history, extending into the realm of fable and unreason, into the land of dreams – it is appropriate that poets of the new liberty should now appear upon the stage. They do not elucidate, do not criticise, do not revile, but paint a new picture of the legend, showing the reverse of the shield. No longer do they describe the War God and his archangels, but speak of the sacrificed masses, of the sorrows and the greatness of the common man, of the spurious enthusiasm and the real despair of the conscripts, of bivouacs, the horrors of the battlefield, burning sunshine, dist-storms, and ice cold. Closely associated with these, caressing them, come idylls, tales of the sweetness of life; of husband, wife, and children in their homes; of wheat waving in the wind before the little cottage – the joys of a quiet, untroubled, free and inconspicuous life, the joys of peace. –

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