Home > Uncategorized > Claude Tellier: The king who drags his people to those vast slaughter-houses known as battle-fields is a murderer

Claude Tellier: The king who drags his people to those vast slaughter-houses known as battle-fields is a murderer


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

French writers on war and peace

Claude Tellier: At first sight you may think our enemies are men. You can tell them from human beings by the color of their uniforms.


Claude Tellier
From My Uncle Benjamin
Translated by Marie Lorenz

“I believe, Monsieur Minxit, ” said he, “that the best thing for you to do is to put your sword back in the scabbard and your plumed hat in its box. War should be made only for extremely serious causes, and the king who drags a part of his people unnecessarily to those vast slaughter-houses known as battle-fields is a murderer. Perhaps it would flatter you, Monsieur Minxit, to be enrolled among the heroes. But what is the glory of a general ? Cities in ruins, villages in ashes, countries ravaged, women abandoned to the brutality of the soldiers, children led away captive, casks of wine in the cellars staved in. Have you not read Fénelon, Monsieur Minxit? All these things are atrocious. I shudder at the very thought of them.”


“My God, what is glory, and to whom does it go? The fuss they make about a name, is it so rare, so precious a blessing that peace, happiness, affection, the finest years of one’s life, and sometimes the peace of the world, should be sacrificed for it?”


“You are a brute thirsting for blood, a viper stinging for the mere pleasure of useless killing. And even the viper does not attack creatures of its own kind. When your adversary has fallen, you kneel in the blood-stained mud, you try to staunch the wounds you made, you act as if you were his best friend. Then why did you kill him, wretch? What good are your pangs of conscience? Will your tears replace the blood that you have shed? You, fashionable assassin, correct murderer, you find men to shake hands with you, mothers of families to invite you to their parties. Women who faint at the sight of the executioner are ready to press their lips to yours and let your head rest on their bosom. But these men and women, to be sure, judge things only by their names. If a man is killed by what is called murder, they are horrified. If he is killed by what is called a duel, they applaud. After all, how much time have you in which to enjoy this applause? Up on high ‘Murderer’ is inscribed after your name. On your brow is a blood-stain which all the kisses of your mistresses will not remove. No judge on earth has sentenced you; but up in heaven there is a judge awaiting you who will not be fooled by talk of honour….”

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