Home > Uncategorized > Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: Study and let war alone

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: Study and let war alone


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

German writers on peace and war

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: Soldiers and peasants

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: The war-god Mars sat over all Europe


Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen
From Simplicius Simplicissimus

Our provost kept pretty far behind the line of battle with his helpers and his prisoners, yet were we so close to our brigade that we could tell each man by his clothing from behind; and when a Swedish squadron attacked ours we were in danger of our lives as much as the fighters, for in a moment the air was so full of singing bullets that it seemed a volley had been fired in our honour. At that the timid ducked their heads, as they would have crept into themselves: but they that had courage and had been present at such sport before let the balls pass over their heads quite unconcerned. In the fighting itself every man sought to prevent his own death with the cutting down of the nearest that encountered him: and the terrible noise of the guns, the rattle of the harness, the crash of the pikes, and the cries both of the wounded and the attackers made up, together with the trumpets, drums and fifes, a horrible music. There could one see nought but thick smoke and dust, which seemed as it would conceal the fearful sight of the wounded and dead…The earth, whose custom it is to cover the dead was there itself covered with them, and those variously distinguished: for here lay heads that had lost their natural owners, and there bodies that lacked their heads: some had their bowels hanging out in most ghastly and pitiful fashion, and others had their heads cleft and their brains scattered: there one could see how lifeless bodies were deprived of their blood while the living were covered with the blood of others; here lay arms shot off, on which the fingers still moved, as if they would yet be fighting; and elsewhere rascals were in full flight that had shed no drop of blood: there lay severed legs, which though delivered from the burden of the body, yet were far heavier than they had been before: there could one see crippled soldiers begging for death, and on the contrary others beseeching quarter and the sparing of their lives. In a word, ’twas naught but a miserable and pitiful sight…

My faithful and fatherly advice would be, ye should employ your youth and your means, which ye now do waste in such purposeless wise, to study, that some day ye may be helpful to God and man and yourself; and let war alone, in which, as I do hear, ye have so great a delight; and before ye get a shrewd knock and find the truth of that saying, ‘Young soldiers make old beggars.'”

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