Home > Uncategorized > Hans Hellmut Kirst: Nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify war

Hans Hellmut Kirst: Nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify war

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

German writers on peace and war

Hans Hellmut Kirst: Selections on war and peace

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Hans Hellmut Kirst
From Forward Gunnar Asch! (08/15 im Krieg)
Translated by Rober Kee

He came here drawn by the magic of the old ruined church. There was something about it of the vastness and stillness of the landscape in which it stood, this landscape which now lay scarred and furrowed and trampled by death.

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“Of course, once the wheels of war start turning again, then the difficulty is to try and get them to stop.”

***

“You’re both marching toward the millennium,” went on Asch unperturbed,” but each in the opposite direction. Each is convinced that he has discovered the perfect philosophy. And what’s even worse: each thinks that his philosophy is the only one there is.”

“I really think it’s time you were going, Asch. You don’t seem to feel at home here.”

“I’m listening to him,” said Natasha. “What he says interests me very much. He can’t shake my conviction.”

“Nor mine,” said Wedelmann passionately. “And that’s just why it’s quite unnecessary to listen to him.”

“I’m not trying to persuade you,” said Asch in a calm and friendly tone. “I’m not even trying to enlighten you. You’re both too far gone for that. This is the age of mass-produced minds: And there you are, the two of you, both expert performers for your parties – one red and the other brown – you’re in love with each other, I take it, but, for you, love between two human beings has to come second to other things. The Soviet Union, or the Reich, must come first, for both are striving to make the world a better place. The happiness which two human beings are capable of giving each other simply doesn’t count. One can’t help wondering what is the point of human beings producing children. To supply soldiers for the defense of the country? Or to continue to live through such children?”

“You have no sense of patriotism,” said Natasha proudly. “I am defending my country so that I can live in it in peace.”

Wedelmann said, no less proudly: “And presumably you’ll never grasp the fact that the race is all that matters. The individual human being is nothing apart from the race to which he belongs.”

“You’re hopeless,” said Asch. He stood up. “God is above all of us. We can be brought together by our love for each other. All men can be brothers. Nothing – absolutely nothing – can justify war.”

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