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Romain Rolland: The heroism of war resisters

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

Nobel prize in literature recipients on peace and war

French writers on war and peace

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

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Romain Rolland

I am not a pacifist out of weakness, who is fearful of the dangers of war. For the last three years I too have been waging a war, and it is not without danger.
(From letter to Louis Ferrière 1917)

I think that we, the men ‘above the battles,’ we are the greatest fighters. Our war knows no compromise, no truce, no treaty! It has no other victory, no other peace to expect save inward peace and victory. But we have to conquer and maintain them against all blows of destiny. Our universe is within us. It is for us to discover its laws of divine harmony.
(From letter to Rabindranath Tagore 1925)

One must have faith, or otherwise not meddle with such things at all. I shall never advise anyone who does not have faith to take part in a movement of Passive Resistance at a time when war has broken out. Because he must be prepared to be sacrificed. I find some of your leaders severely guilty, who keep you in illusion on this point and delude you with the hope that the war will stop before folded arms. It will stop in the wake of world opinion, incensed at the sacrifice of Passive Resisters. It is the sacrifice which alone can bring – prepare – the coming victory of mankind, the salvation of future generations. But this sacrifice cannot be avoided.
(From letter to Pierre Herdner 1930)

It is entrusted to me to ask you, as well as Gandhi, to join a Universal Assembly for Peace, which we are convening towards the end of this summer, probably in September, at Geneva. It will be a vast and powerful Congress, a sort of mobilization of all the forces in the world for peace. A number of great national and international organizations and personalities from France, England, the United States, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Belgium, Holland and many other countries have already joined…It will be a question of organizing, simultaneously on a national and international level, resistance against the catastrophic menace of a universal conflagration…
(From letter to Jawaharlal Nehru 1936)

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