Page:Above the battle.djvu/177

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The Murder of the Élite

A pain less lyrical, less ecstatic, more simple, more reflective, and nearer to ourselves marks the sequence of Feldpostbriefe of Dr. Albert Klein, teacher in the Oberrealschule at Giessen and Lieutenant of the Landwehr, killed on the 12th of February in Champagne.[1] Passing over what are, perhaps, the most striking pages from the point of view of artistic quality and power of thought, I will only give two extracts from these letters which are likely to be of special interest to French readers.

The first describes for us with an unusual frankness the moral condition of the German army:

Brave, without care for his own life! Who is there among us that is that? We all know too well our own worth and our own possibilities; we are in the flower of our age: force is in our arms and in our souls; and as no one willingly dies, no one is brave (tapfer) in the usual sense of the word: or at least such are very rare. It is just because bravery is so rare in life, it is just for that that we expend so much religion, poetry, and thought (and this begins already at school), in celebrating as the highest fate death for one's fatherland, until it

attains its climax in the false heroism which makes such a sensation about us in newspapers and speeches and
  1. The review Die Tat, published by Eug. Diederichs at Jena, prints long extracts from them in its issue for May 1915.