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Sergei Sartakov: No to eternal war

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

Russian writers on war

Sergei Sartakov: I fervently wish for universal peace

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Sergei Sartakov
From The Philosophers’ Stone
Translated by Fainna Glagoleva

“I don’t think mankind will set out on a course of eternal warfare, because I believe in the inherent wisdom of man….The day will come when commanders and commissars will no longer be needed in the infantry, the artillery or the cavalry. They’ll be needed in other walks of life and will become leaders in industry, science and art.”

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“I still regret not having learned the language or more about the country and the meaning of everything that was happening there when I was in Russia. True, I crossed Russia bearing arms, but I never killed a single Russian, Václav!”

“Never kill anyone when you grow up, Václav!” Blažena echoed.

She was mortally frightened by the very sight of a gun. The first thing she had done after marrying Stašek was to demand that they get rid of everything that was in the least way connected with his former life as an officer. She had every reason to feel as she did, for her two elder brothers, brave soldiers of Emperor Franz Joseph, had both been killed in Galicia.

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The priest’s face softened….

“A great nation is rising from the ruins and destruction which the colonel saw when he was in Russia. He was awed and frightened by it. What does a new and rising Russia hold in store for mankind? The colonel thinks it will bring on a new war, or a second wave of revolutions in Europe. That, in his estimation, also means war. I didn’t argue with him. His profession demands that he thinks in terms of war and warfare. My calling, however, demands that I think in terms of peace….”

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General Hrudka, a serious-minded and business-like man, did not always agree with him, nor did he approve of Václav’s desire to devote himself entirely to scholarly research, something so far removed from everyday life. Yet, a general could not think otherwise. Being in the service of the god of war, his mind could not rise above the trajectory of an artillery shell or the lofty flight of the newest bomber.

General Hrudka never spoke of anything except the inevitability of war. He had been figuring out the period within which the second world war was bound to start, determining the countries that would definitely be drawn into the conflict and their war potential. He was positive that, all things accounted for, the next war would not by-pass his beloved Czechoslovakia….

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Why were innocent people in other countries being mown down by rounds of ruthless machine-gun fire? Whose way were they in?

No sooner would one war cease than another was begun in some other part of the world. War to war! How much more blood would have to be shed…?


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