Home > Uncategorized > Lajos Zilahy: The greatest efforts were concentrated on the greatest of human problems: how to kill.

Lajos Zilahy: The greatest efforts were concentrated on the greatest of human problems: how to kill.


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

Lajos Zilahy: Called, not without justice, the Third World War


Lajos Zilahy
From Century in Scarlet

I recently read an estimate,” Flexi said, “that since the time of Ozymandias, nearly seven billion men have lost their lives on fields of battle.”


Spring had conquered the fields and gardens. Young flowers curtsied in the stiff breeze, old trees, fanning themselves with their leafy branches, looked like old ladies with ostrich fans. Across the river, which curved like the shoulder of a small park where the lemon-yellow colza bloomed, the fields showed bright patches of red and blue – the uniforms of dead hussars and dragoons, in clouds of flies.


Governments always forget that their soldiers are under the command, not only of generals, but also of mothers, wives or girlfriends.


After the long dawn of the Age of Technology in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, mankind was feverishly occupied in exploiting all applications of the new marvels. The greatest efforts, of course. were concentrated on the greatest of human problems: how to kill.


Then the conversation turned to the recent technological inventions, the horse-making machine…friction matches…the ice-making machine…the the machine gun….

“And artificial limbs!” a voice put in, ironically stressing the connection between the two inventions.


“I vividly remember a family talk,” Flexi continued his topic, “when Father and his friends debated the question – suggested by King Fredrick – that instead of war, quarrels between the nations be settled by a pistol duel between the two sovereigns.”

“Not a bad idea,” Professor Kun declared, “But I hardly believe that Granma Victoria will fight a duel with her grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm, on the present Cameroon questions.”

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