Dear Mother and Father,
Humanity is mad! This is the truth that my experiences at war have taught me. We attribute such noble qualities as valor, patriotism, justice and morality with motivations for war. But whatever may be the ends of war, the means through which it is accomplished is highly questionable. During combat fellow human beings are turned into mere targets to be struck down. It strikes me as absurd that I am obliged to kill my German brethren merely because they were wearing a different uniform. After all, the differences between the troops in combat are nearly all superficial.
Tell me, what is it that separates us and German soldiers? They too were nurtured, schooled and raised with civil values that we provide our children. When they grow into adults, they show the same chivalry toward women that our young men do. They embrace the institution of marriage and take up family responsibilities like our men do. But the mere fact of being born on the other side of the border and speaking a different tongue to ours condemns them as enemies. This is unreasonable!
Moreover, the theatre of war is not the glorified picture that it is made out to be. My eyes have witnessed some horrifying images of blood, wound and mortality. These images continue to haunt me in the day, just as they surely manifest as nightmares in the night. I at times feel that I am forever stripped of my finer human sensibilities as a result of the trauma I’ve endured. The depth of my agony is such that I sometimes feel unlucky to have not caught enemy fire. That way, I would be relieved of my anguish once and for all.
If the scenes of combat are dehumanizing enough, the long interim periods of lying on trenches is even more torturous. Unkempt, cold, half-starving and always confined to the narrow space of the trench is an experience beyond words. It has driven me toward insanity, if I am not insane already. My only hope now is to see the curtains fall on the war. I couldn’t care less about victory, for humanity is already defeated. I am thoroughly disabused of the romance of war. I can clearly see now that war is the mindless slaughter of fellow humans for vague or superficial causes. Humanity is mad, indeed!
Clayton, A. (2003). Paths of Glory: The French Army 1914–18. London: Cassell.
Doughty, R. A. (2005). Pyrrhic Victory: French Strategy and Operations in the Great War. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University.