Home > Uncategorized > Roger Nimier: Thankful for divine justice: a horrible wound rewarded me for all the harm I had done

Roger Nimier: Thankful for divine justice: a horrible wound rewarded me for all the harm I had done


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

French writers on war and peace

Roger Nimier: Selections on war


Roger Nimier
From The Blue Hussar
Translated by Jacques Le Clercq

War is a continuation of childhood. It was only five years since I’d left school. Many who had sat next to me had disappeared without a word. They had names, faces, secrets; decisions came to them as naturally as their breath. No doubt their hasty actions made their life impossible for them. Nothing truthful could come from such frenzy. It meant going to great pains without avail….

Any soldier worth his salt is passionately fond of looking after his equipment. It takes nothing away from romanticism. During the World War years, every young man wanted to own a weapon. The tommy gun became a symbol of manhood, much as a boy’s first mistress had been in 1900. Civilization, which has virtually all its roots in the ambitions of adolescents, no longer drew its values from love, but from murder. Eighteen-year-olds of my generation found something mildly amusing when they considered this change. Society has always taken a dim view of us at that age and women considered us a source of amusement rather than of suffering. Thus the triple domain of war, crime and revolution offered our offended hearts a great consolation. It deprived us of that indifference which might have cured us in the long run.

When quite young I used to spend hours contemplating my father’s pistols. In an easy and natural way, life gave me all I could have wished for along those lines. I’d lived surrounded by armies or military organizations; I’d been used to handling those inoffensive-looking little devices whose virtues the dead know so well. Eventually a horrible wound rewarded me for all the harm I had done. For a long time, as I lay in my hospital bed, I used to think of this divine justice and I was thankful for it.

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