Home > Uncategorized > Hans Habe: Constituent battles of the Third World War. You can’t pick your battlefields once war is in progress.

Hans Habe: Constituent battles of the Third World War. You can’t pick your battlefields once war is in progress.

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

Hans Habe: Hiroshima-born realization of man’s destructibility by man

Hans Habe: John Fitzgerald Kennedy was murdered

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Hans Habe
From The Poisoned Stream
Translated by J. Maxwell Brownjohn

Read the papers. Reports of fighting in Asia, Africa, the Near and Far East. Fears of a Third World War – they ought to call it the fourth, considering how long ago the third began. The two superpowers have been waging war for years, but on foreign soil. War by instalments – very appropriate in the age of hire-purchase. What is taking place in Vietnam or the Near East isn’t a war but a series of battles – constituent battles of the Third World War. You can’t pick your battlefields once war is in progress. Where will the next battlefield be? The most frightening aspect of war is the corruption it lures us into….

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The word ruin has a dual significance which renders it applicable both to the miraculous relics of Greece and Rome and to the architectural skeletons left by war: we can, for instance, admire the Forum Romanum and the ruins of Egypt because no personal recollection is associated with them, because we never saw their columns rent asunder. Ancient churches, residences, and places of public assembly did not fall to dust before our eyes; dead they are, but not of our kin; young they once were, but we never knew them in their youth; ruined they stand, but we did not witness their decay.

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