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All Quiet on the Western Front

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Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive."The world has a great writer in Erich Maria Remarque. He is a craftsman of unquestionably first trank, a man who can bend language to his will. Whether he writes of men or of inanimate nature, his touch is sensitive, firm, and sure."THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
Year:
1930
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Language:
english
Pages:
141
ISBN 10:
0449213943
ISBN 13:
9780449213940
File:
EPUB, 142 KB
Download (epub, 142 KB)

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Erich Remarque - All Quiet On The Western Front





ONE





We are at rest five miles behind the front. Yesterday we were relieved, and now our bellies are full of beef and haricot beans. We are satisfied and at peace. Each man has another mess-tin full for the evening; and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage and bread. That puts a man in fine trim. We have not had such luck as this for a long time. The cook with his carroty head is begging us to eat; he beckons with his ladle to every one that passes, and spoons him out a great dollop. He does not see how he can empty his stew-pot in time for coffee. Tjaden and Müller have produced two washbasins and had them filled up to the brim as a reserve. In Tjaden this is voracity, in Müller it is foresight. Where Tjaden puts it all is a mystery, for he is and always will be as thin as a rake. What's more important still is the issue of a double ration of smokes. Ten cigars, twenty cigarettes, and two quids of chew per man; now that is decent. I have exchanged my chewing tobacco with Katczinsky for his cigarettes, which means I have forty altogether. That's enough for a day.





It is true we have no right to this windfall. The Prussian is not so generous. We have only a miscalculation to thank for it. Fourteen days ago we had to go up and relieve the front line. It was fairly quiet on our sector, so the quartermaster who remained in the rear had requisitioned the usual quantity of rations and provided for the full company of one hundred and fifty men. But on the last day an astonishing number of English heavies opened up on us with high-explosive, drumming ceaselessly on our position, so that we suffered severely and came back only eighty strong.





Last night we moved back and settled down to get a good sleep for once: Katczinsky is right when he says it would not be such a bad war if only one could get a little more sleep. In the line we have had next to none, and fourteen days is a long time at one stretch.





It was noon before the first o; f us crawled out of our quarters. Half an hour later every man had his mess-tin and we gathered at the cookhouse, which smelt greasy and nourishing. At the head of the queue of course were the hungriest-little Albert Kropp, the clearest thinker among us and therefore only a lance-corporal; Müller, who still carries his school textbooks with him, dreams of examinations, and during a bombardment mutters propositions in physics; Leer, who wears a full beard and has a preference for the girls from officers' brothels. He swears that they are obliged by an army order to wear silk chemises and to bathe before entertaining guests of the rank of captain and upwards. And as the fourth, myself, Paul Baumer. And four are nineteen years of age, and all four joined up from the same class as volunteers for the war.





Close behind us were our friends: Tjaden, a skinny locksmith of our own age, the biggest eater of the company. He sits down to eat as thin as a grasshopper and gets up as big as a bug in the family way; Haie Westhus, of the same age, a peat-digger, who can easily hold a ration-loaf in his hand and say: Guess what I've got in my fist; then Detering, a peasant, who thinks of nothing but his farm-yard and his wife; and finally Stanislaus Katczinsky, the leader of our group, shrewd, cunning, and hard-bitten, forty years of age, with a face of the soil, blue eyes, bent shoulders, and a remarkable nose for dirty weather, good food, and soft jobs.





Our gang formed the head of the queue before the cook-house. We were growing impatient, for the cook paid no attention to us. Finally Katczinsky called to him: "Say, Heinrich, open up the soupkitchen.





Anyone can see the beans are done."





He shook his head sleepily: "You must all be there first." Tjaden grinned: "We are all here."





The sergeant-cook still took no notice. "That may do for you," he said.





"But where are the others?"





"They won't be fed by you to-day. They're either in the dressing-station or pushing up daisies." The cook was quite disconcerted as the facts dawned

on him. He was staggered. "And I have cooked for one hundred and fifty men--"





Kropp poked him in the ribs. "Then for once we'll have enough. Come on, begin!"





Suddenly a vision came over Tjaden. His sharp, mousy features began to shine, his eyes grew small with cunning, his jaws twitched, and he whispered hoarsely: "Man! then you've got bread for one hundred and fifty men too, eh?"





The sergeant-cook nodded absent-minded, and bewildered.





Tjaden seized him by the tunic. "And sausage?"





Ginger nodded again.





Tjaden's chaps quivered. "Tobacco too?"





"Yes, everything."





Tjaden beamed: "What a bean-feast! That's all for us! Each man gets- wait a bit-yes, practically two issues."





Then Ginger stirred himself and said: "That won't do."





We got excited and began to crowd around.





"Why won't that do, you old carrot?" demanded Katczinsky.





"Eighty men can't have what is meant for a hundred and fifty."





"We'll soon show you," growled Müller.





"I don't care about the stew, but I can only issue rations for eighty men," persisted Ginger.





Katczinsky got angry. "You might be generous for once. You haven't drawn food for eighty men. You've drawn it for the Second Company. Good. Let's have it then. We are the Second Company." We began to jostle the fellow. No one felt kindly toward him, for it was his fault that the food often came up to us in the line too late and cold. Under shellfire he wouldn't bring his kitchen up near enough, so that our soup-carriers had to go much farther than those of the other companies. Now Bulcke of the First Company is a much better fellow. He is as fat as a hamster in winter, but he trundles his pots when it comes to that right up to the very front-line. We were in just the right mood, and there would certainly have been a dust-up if our company commander had not appeared. He informed himself of the dispute, and only remarked: "Yes, we did have heavy losses yesterday." He glanced into the dixie. "The beans look good." Ginger nodded. "Cooked with meat and fat." The lieutenant looked at us. He knew what we were thinking. And he knew many other things too, because he came to the company as a non-com, and was promoted from the ranks. He lifted the lid from the dixie again and sniffed. Then passing on he said: "Bring me a plate full. Serve out all the rations. We can do with them." Ginger looked sheepish as Tjaden danced round him. "It doesn't cost you anything! Anyone would think the quartermaster's store belonged to him! And now get on with it, you old blubber-sticker, and don't you miscount either."





"You be hanged!" spat out Ginger. When things get beyond him he throws up the sponge altogether; he just goes to pieces. And as if to show that all things were equal to him, of his own free will he issued in addition half a pound of synthetic honey to each man.





To-day is wonderfully good. The mail has come, and almost every man has a few letters and papers. We stroll over to the meadow behind the billets. Kropp has the round lid of a margarine tub under his arm. On the right side of the meadow a large common latrine has been built, a roofed and durable construction. But that is for recruits who as yet have not learned how to make the most of whatever comes their way. We want something better. Scattered about everywhere there are separate, individual boxes for the same purpose. They are square, neat boxes with wooden sides all round, and have unimpeachably satisfactory seats. On the sides are hand grips enabling one to shift them about.





We move three together in a ring and sit down comfortably. And it will be two hours before we get up again.





I well remembered how embarrassed we were as recruits in barracks when we had to use the general latrine. There were no doors and twenty men sat side by side as in a railway carriage, so that they could be reviewed all at one glance, for soldiers must always be under supervision. Since then we have learned better than to be shy about such trifling immodesties. In time things far worse than that came easy to us. Here in the open air though, the business is entirely a pleasure. I no longer understand why we should always have shied at these things before. They are, in fact, just as natural as eating and drinking. We might perhaps have paid no particular attention to them had they not figured so large in our experience, nor been such novelties to our minds-to the old hands they had long been a mere matter of course.





The soldier is on friendlier terms than other men with his stomach and intestines. Three-quarters of his vocabulary is derived from these regions, and they give an intimate flavour to expressions of his greatest joy as well as of his deepest indignation. It is impossible to express oneself in any other way so clearly and pithily. Our families and our teachers will be shocked when we go home, but here it is the universal language.





Enforced publicity has in our eyes restored the character of complete innocence to all these things. More than that, they are so much a matter of course that their comfortable performance is fully as much enjoyed as the playing of a safe top running flush. Not for nothing was the word "latrinerumour" invented; these places are the regimental gossip-shops and common-rooms.





We feel ourselves for the time being better off than in any palatial white-tiled "convenience." There it can only be hygienic; here it is beautiful. These are wonderfully care-free hours. Over us is the blue sky. On the horizon float the bright yellow, sunlit observation-balloons, and the many little white clouds of the anti-aircraft shells. Often they rise in a sheaf as they follow after an airman. We hear the muffled rumble of the front only as very distant thunder, bumble-bees droning by quite drown it. Around us stretches the flowery meadow. The grasses sway their tall spears; the white butterflies flutter around and float on the soft warm wind of the late summer. We read letters and newspapers and smoke. We take off our caps and lay them down beside us. The wind plays with our hair; it plays with our words and thoughts. The three boxes stand in the midst of the glowing, red field-poppies. We set the lid of the margarine tub on our knees and so have a good table for a game of skat. Kropp has the cards with him. After every misare ouverte we have a round of nap. One could sit like this for ever. The notes of an accordion float across from the billets. Often we lay aside the cards and look about us. One of us will say: "Well, boys...." Or "It was a near thing that time...." And for a moment we fall silent. There is in each of us a feeling of constraint. We are all sensible of it; it needs no words to communicate it. It might easily have happened that we should not be sitting here on our boxes to-day; it came damn near to that. And so everything is new and brave, red poppies and good food, cigarettes and summer breeze. Kropp asks: "Anyone seen Kemmerich lately?"





"He's up at St. Joseph's," I tell him.





Müller explains that he has a flesh wound in his thigh; a good blighty.





We decide to go and see him this afternoon.





Kropp pulls out a letter. "Kantorek sends you all his best wishes." We laugh. Müller throws his cigarette away and says: "I wish he was here."





Kantorek had been our schoolmaster, a stern little man in a grey tailcoat, with a face like a shrew mouse. He was about the same size as Corporal Himmelstoss, the "terror of Klosterberg." It is very queer that the unhappiness of the world is so often brought on by small men. They are so much more energetic and uncompromising than the big fellows. I have always taken good care to keep out of sections with small company commanders. They are mostly confounded little martinets.





During drill-time Kantorek gave us long lectures until the whole of our class went, under his shepherding, to the District Commandant and volunteered. I can see him now, as he used to glare at us through his spectacles and say in a moving voice: "Won't you join up, Comrades?" These teachers always carry their feelings ready in their waistcoat pockets, and trot them out by the hour. But we didn't think of that then. There was, indeed, one of us who hesitated and did not want to fall into line. That was Joseph Behm, a plump, homely fellow. But he did allow himself to be persuaded, otherwise he would have been ostracised. And perhaps more of us thought as he did, but no one could very well stand out, because at that time even one's parents were ready with the word "coward"; no one had the vaguest idea what we were in for. The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy. Katczinsky said that was a result of their upbringing. It made them stupid. And what Kat said, he had thought about.





Strange to say, Behm was one of the first to fall. He got hit in the eye during an attack, and we left him lying for dead. We couldn't bring him with us, because we had to come back helter-skelter. In the afternoon suddenly we heard him call, and saw him crawling about in No Man's Land. He had only been knocked unconscious. Because he could not see, and was mad with pain, he failed to keep under cover, and so was shot down before anyone could go and fetch him in.





Naturally we couldn't blame Kantorek for this. Where would the world be if one brought every man to book? There were thousands of Kantoreks, all of whom were convinced that they were acting for the best-in a way that cost them nothing.





And that is why they let us down so badly.





For us lads of eighteen they ought to have been mediators and guides to the world of maturity, the world of work, of duty, of culture, of progress-to the future. We often made fun of them and played jokes on them, but in our hearts we trusted them. The idea of authority, which they represented, was associated in our minds with a greater insight and a more humane wisdom. But the first death we saw shattered this belief. We had to recognise that our generation was more to be trusted than theirs.





They surpassed us only in phrases and in cleverness. The first bombardment showed us our mistake, and under it the world as they had taught it to us broke in pieces.





While they continued to write and talk, we saw the wounded and dying. While they taught that duty to one's country is the greatest thing, we already knew that death-throes are stronger. But for all that we were no mutineers, no deserters, no cowards-they were very free with all these expressions. We loved our country as much as they; we went courageously into every action; but also we distinguished the false from true, we had suddenly learned to see. And we saw that there was nothing of their world left. We were all at once terribly alone; and alone we must see it through.





Before going over to see Kemmerich we pack up his things: he will need them on the way back.





In the dressing station there is great activity: it reeks as ever of carbolic, pus, and sweat. We are accustomed to a good deal in the billets, but this makes us feel faint. We ask for Kemmerich. He lies in a large room and receives us with feeble expressions of joy and helpless agitation. While he was unconscious someone had stolen his watch.





Müller shakes his head: "I always told you that nobody should carry as good a watch as that."





Müller is rather crude and tactless, otherwise he would hold his tongue, for anybody can see that Kemmerich will never come out of this place again. Whether he finds his watch or not will make no difference, at the most one will only be able to send it to his people.





"How goes it, Franz?" asks Kropp.





Kemmerich's head sinks.





"Not so bad... but I have such a damned pain in my foot." We look at his bed covering. His leg lies under a wire basket. The bed covering arches over it. I kick Müller on the shin, for he is just about to tell Kemmerich what the orderlies told us outside: that Kemmerich has lost his foot. The leg is amputated. He looks ghastly, yellow and wan. In his face there are already the strained lines that we know so well, we have seen them now hundreds of times. They are not so much lines as marks. Under the skin the life no longer pulses, it has already pressed out the boundaries of the body. Death is working through from within. It already has command in the eyes. Here lies our comrade, Kemmerich, who a little while ago was roasting horse flesh with us and squatting in the shell-holes. He it is still and yet it is not he any longer. His features have become uncertain and faint, like a photographic plate from which two pictures have been taken. Even his voice sounds like ashes.





I think of the time when we went away. His mother, a good plump matron, brought him to the station. She wept continually, her face was bloated and swollen. Kemmerich felt embarrassed, for she was the least composed of all; she simply dissolved into fat and water. Then she caught sight of me and took hold of my arm again and again, and implored me to look after Franz out there. Indeed he did have a face like a child, and such frail bones that after four weeks' pack-carrying he already had flat feet. But how can a man look after anyone in the field!





"Now you will soon be going home," says Kropp. "You would have had to wait at least three or four months for your leave." Kemmerich nods. I cannot bear to look at his hands, they are like wax. Under the nails is the dirt of the trenches, it shows through blue-black like poison. It strikes me that these nails will continue to grow like lean fantastic cellar-plants long after Kemmerich breathes no more. I see the picture before me. They twist themselves into corkscrews and grow and grow, and with them the hair on the decaying skull, just like grass in a good soil, just like grass, how can it be possible-Müller leans over. "We have brought your things, Franz."





Kemmerich signs with his hands. "Put them under the bed." Müller does so. Kemmerich starts on again about the watch. How can one calm him without making him suspicious?





Müller reappears with a pair of airman's boots. They are fine English boots of soft, yellow leather which reach to the knees and lace up all the way- they are things to be coveted.





Müller is delighted at the sight of them. He matches their soles against his own clumsy boots and says: "Will you be taking them with you then, Franz?"





We all three have the same thought; even if he should get better, he would be able to use only one-they are no use to him. But as things are now it is a pity that they should stay here; the orderlies will of course grab them as soon as he is dead, "Won't you leave them with us?" Müller repeats. Kemmerich doesn't want to. They are his most prized possessions. "Well, we could exchange," suggests Müller again. "Out here one can make some use of them." Still Kemmerich is not to be moved. I tread on Müller's foot; reluctantly he puts the fine boots back again under the bed.





We talk a little more and then take our leave.





"Cheerio, Franz."





I promise him to come back in the morning. Müller talks of doing so, too. He is thinking of the lace-up boots and means to be on the spot. Kemmerich groans. He is feverish. We get hold of an orderly outside and ask him to give Kemmerich a dose of morphia. He refuses. "If we were to give morphia to everyone we would have to have tubs full-" "You only attend to officers properly," says Kropp viciously. I hastily intervene and give him a cigarette. He takes it.





"Are you usually allowed to give it, then?" I ask him.





He is annoyed. "If you don't think so, then why do you ask?" I press a few more cigarettes into his hand. "Do us the favour-" "Well, all right," he says.





Kropp goes in with him. He doesn't trust him and wants to see. We wait outside.





Müller returns to the subject of the boots. "They would fit me perfectly. In these boots I get blister after blister. Do you think he will last till tomorrow after drill? If he passes out in the night, we know where the boots-" Kropp returns. "Do you think--?" he asks.





"Done for," says Müller emphatically.





We go back to the huts. I think of the letter that I must write tomorrow to Kemmerich's mother. I am freezing. I could do with a tot of rum. Müller pulls up some grass and chews it. Suddenly little Kropp throws his cigarette away, stamps on it savagely, and looking around him with a broken and distracted face, stammers "Damned shit, the damned shit!"





We walk on for a long time. Kropp has calmed himself; we understand, he saw red; out here every man gets like that sometime. "What has Kantorek written to you?" Müller asks him.





He laughs. "We are the Iron Youth."





We all three smile bitterly. Kropp rails: he is glad that he can speak. Yes, that's the way they think, these hundred thousand Kantoreks! Iron Youth. Youth! We are none of us more than twenty years old. But young? Youth? That is long ago. We are old folk.





TWO





It is strange to think that at home in the drawer of my writing table there lies the beginning of a play called "Saul" and a bundle of poems. Many an evening I have worked over them-we all did something of the kind-but that has become so unreal to me I cannot comprehend it any more. Our early life is cut off from the moment we came here, and that without our lifting a hand. We often try to look back on it and to find an explanation, but never quite succeed. For us young men of twenty everything is extraordinarily vague, for Kropp, Müller, Leer, and for me, for all of us whom Kantorek calls the "Iron Youth." All the older men are linked up with their previous life. They have wives, children, occupations, and interests, they have a background which is so strong that the war cannot obliterate it. We young men of twenty, however, have only our parents, and some, perhaps, a girl-that is not much, for at our age the influence of parents is at its weakest and girls have not yet got a hold over us. Besides this there was little else-some enthusiasm, a few hobbies, and our school. Beyond this our life did not extend. And of this nothing remains. Kantorek would say that we stood on the threshold of life. And so it would seem. We had as yet taken no root. The war swept us away. For the others, the older men, it is but an interruption. They are able to think beyond it. We, however, have been gripped by it and do not know what the end may be. We know only that in some strange and melancholy way we have become a waste land. All the same, we are not often sad.





Though Müller would be delighted to have Kemmerich's boots, he is really quite as sympathetic as another who could not bear to think of such a thing for grief. He merely sees things clearly. Were Kemmerich able to make any use of the boots, then Müller would rather go bare-foot over barbed wire than scheme how to get hold of them. But as it is the boots are quite inappropriate to Kemmerich's circumstances, whereas Müller can make good use of them. Kemmerich will die; it is immaterial who gets them. Why, then, should Müller not succeed to them? He has more right than a hospital orderly. When Kemmerich is dead it will be too late. Therefore Müller is already on the watch.





We have lost all sense of other considerations, because they are artificial. Only the facts are real and important for us. And good boots are scarce.





Once it was different. When we went to the district-commandant to enlist, we were a class of twenty young men, many of whom proudly shaved for the first time before going to the barracks. We had no definite plans for our future. Our thoughts of a career and occupation were as yet of too unpractical a character to furnish any scheme of life. We were still crammed full of vague ideas which gave to life, and to the war also an ideal and almost romantic character. We were trained in the army for ten weeks and in this time more profoundly influenced than by ten years at school. We learned that a bright button is weightier than four volumes of Schopenhauer. At first astonished, then embittered, and finally indifferent, we recognised that what matters is not the mind but the boot brush, not intelligence but the system, not freedom but drill. We became soldiers with eagerness and enthusiasm, but they have done everything to knock that out of us. After three weeks it was no longer incomprehensible to us that a braided postman should have more authority over us than had formerly our parents, our teachers, and the whole gamut of culture from Plato to Goethe. With our young, awakened eyes we saw that the classical conception of the Fatherland held by our teachers resolved itself here into a renunciation of personality such as one would not ask of the meanest servants-salutes, springing to attention, parade-marches, presenting arms, right wheel, left wheel, clicking the heels, insults, and a thousand pettifogging details. We had fancied our task would be different, only to find we were to be trained for heroism as though we were circusponies. But we soon accustomed ourselves to it. We learned in fact that some of these things were necessary, but the rest merely show. Soldiers have a fine nose for such distinctions.





By threes and fours our class was scattered over the platoons amongst Frisian fishermen, peasants, and labourers with whom we soon made friends. Kropp, Müller, Kemmerich, and I went to No .9 platoon under Corporal Himmelstoss.





He had the reputation of being the strictest disciplinarian in the camp, and was proud of it. He was a small undersized fellow with a foxy, waxed moustache, who had seen twelve years' service and was in civil life a postman. He had a special dislike of Kropp, Tjaden, Westhus, and me, because he sensed a quiet defiance.





I have remade his bed fourteen times in one morning. Each time he had some fault to find and pulled it to pieces. I have kneaded a pair of prehistoric boots that were as hard as iron for twenty hours-with intervals of course-until they became as soft as butter and not even Himmelstoss could find anything more to do to them; under his orders I have scrubbed out the Corporals' Mess with a tooth-brush. Kropp and I were given the job of clearing the barrack-square of snow with a hand-broom and a dust-pan, and we would have gone on till we were frozen had not a lieutenant accidentally appeared who sent us off, and hauled Himmelstoss over the coals. But the only result of this was to make Himmelstoss hate us more. For six weeks consecutively I did guard every Sunday and was hut-orderly for the same length of time. With full pack and rifle I have had to practise on a wet, soft, newly-ploughed field the "Prepare to advance, advance!" and the "Lie down!" until I was one lump of mud and finally collapsed. Four hours later I had to report to Himmelstoss with my clothes scrubbed clean, my hands chafed and bleeding. Together with Kropp, Westhus, and Tjaden I have stood at attention in a hard frost without gloves for a quarter of an hour at a stretch, while Himmelstoss watched for the slightest movement of our bare fingers on the steel barrel of the rifle. I have run eight times from the top floor of the barracks down to the courtyard in my shirt at two o'clock in the morning because my drawers projected three inches beyond the edge of the stool on which one had to stack all one's things. Alongside me ran the corporal, Himmelstoss, and trod on my bare toes. At bayonet-practice I had constantly to fight with Himmelstoss, I with a heavy iron weapon, whilst he had a handy wooden one with which he easily struck my arms till they were black and blue. Once, indeed, I became so infuriated that I ran at him blindly and gave him a mighty jab in the stomach and knocked him down. When he reported me the company commander laughed at him and told him he ought to keep his eyes open; he understood Himmelstoss, and apparently was not displeased at his discomfiture. I became a past master on the parallel bars and excelled at physical jerks;--we have trembled at the mere sound of his voice, but this runaway post-horse never got the better of us.





One Sunday as Kropp and I were lugging a latrine-bucket on a pole across the barrack-yard, Himmelstoss came by, all polished up and spry for going out. He planted himself in front of us and asked how we liked the job. In spite of ourselves we tripped and emptied the bucket over his legs. He raved, but the limit had been reached.





"That means clink," he yelled.





But Kropp had had enough. "There'll be an enquiry first," he said, "and then we'll unload."





"Mind how you speak to a non-commissioned officer!" bawled Himmelstoss. "Have you lost your senses? You wait till you're spoken to. What will you do, anyway?"





"Show you up, Corporal," said Kropp, his thumbs in line with the seams of his trousers.





Himmelstoss saw that we meant it and went off without saying a word. But before he disappeared he growled: "You'll drink this!"-but that was the end of his authority. He tried it on once more in the ploughed field with his "Prepare to advance, advance" and "Lie down." We obeyed each order, since an order's an order and has to be obeyed. But we did it so slowly that Himmelstoss became desperate. Carefully we went down on our knees, then on our hands, and so on; in the meantime, quite infuriated, he had given another command.





But before we had even begun to sweat he was hoarse. After that he left us in peace. He did indeed always refer to us as swine, but there was, nevertheless, a certain respect in his tone.





There were many other staff corporals, the majority of whom were more decent. But above all each of them wanted to keep his good job there as long as possible, and this he could do only by being strict with the recruits. So we were put through every conceivable refinement of paradeground soldiering till we often howled with rage. Many of us became ill through it; Wolf actually died of inflammation of the lung. But we would have felt ridiculous had we hauled down our colours. We became hard, suspicious, pitiless, vicious, tough-and that was good; for these attributes were just what we lacked. Had we gone into the trenches without this period of training most of us would certainly have gone mad. Only thus were we prepared for what awaited us. We did not break down, but adapted ourselves; our twenty years, which made many another thing so grievous, helped us in this. But by far the most important result was that it awakened in us a strong, practical sense of esprit de corps, which in the field developed into the finest thing that arose out of the war-comradeship.





I sit by Kemmerich's bed. He is sinking steadily. Around us is a great commotion. A hospital tram has arrived and the wounded fit to be moved are being selected. The doctor passes by Kemmerich's bed without once looking at him.





"Next time, Franz," I say.





He raises himself on the pillow with his elbows. "They have amputated my leg."





He knows it too then. I nod and answer: "You must be thankful you've come off with that."





He is silent.





I resume: "It might have been both legs, Franz. Wegeler has lost his right arm. That's much worse. Besides, you will be going home." He looks at me. "Do you think so?"





"Of course."





"Do you think so?" he repeats.





"Sure, Franz. Once you've got over the operation."





He beckons me to bend down. I stoop over bin and he whispers: "I don't think so."





"Don't talk rubbish; Franz, in a couple of days you'll see for yourself. What is it anyway-an amputated leg? here they patch up far worse things than that."





He lifts one hand. "Look here though, these fingers." "That's the result of the operation. Just eat decently and you'll soon be well again. Do they look after you properly?"





He points to a dish that is still half full. I get excited. "Franz, you must eat. Eating is the main thing. That looks good too."





He turns away. After a pause he says slowly: "I wanted to become a head-forester once."





"So you may still," I assure him. "There are splendid artificial limbs now, you'd hardly know there was anything missing. They are fixed on to the muscles. You can move the fingers and work and even write with an artificial hand. And besides, they will always be making new improvements." For a while he lies still. Then he says: "You can take my lace-up boots with you for Müller."





I nod and wonder what to say to encourage him. His lips have fallen away, his mouth has become larger, his teeth stick out and look as though they were made of chalk. The flesh melts, the forehead bulges more prominently, the cheekbones protrude. The skeleton is working itself through. The eyes are already sunken in. In a couple of hours it will be over. He is not the first that I have seen thus; but we grew up together and that always makes it a bit different. I have copied his essays. At school he used to wear a brown coat with a belt and shiny sleeves. He was the only one of us, too, who could do the giant's turn on the horizontal bar. His hair flew in his face like silk when he did it. Kantorek was proud of him. But he couldn't stand cigarettes. His skin was very white; he had something of the girl about him.





I glance at my boots. They are big and clumsy, the breeches are tucked into them, and standing up one looks well-built and powerful in these great drainpipes. But when we go bathing and strip, suddenly we have slender legs again and slight shoulders. We are no longer soldiers but little more than boys; no one would believe that we could carry packs. It is a strange moment when we stand naked; then we become civilians, and almost feel ourselves to be so. When bathing Franz Kemmerich looked as slight and frail as a child. There he lies now-but why? The whole world ought to pass by this bed and say: "That is Franz Kemmerich, nineteen and a half years old, he doesn't want to die. Let him not die!"





My thoughts become confused. This atmosphere of carbolic and gangrene clogs the lungs, it is a thick gruel, it suffocates. It grows dark. Kemmerich's face changes colour, it lifts from the pillow and is so pale that it gleams. The mouth moves slightly. I draw near to him.





He whispers: "If you find my watch, send it home-"





I do not reply. It is no use any more. No one can console him. I am wretched with helplessness. This forehead with its hollow temples, this mouth that now seems all teeth, this sharp nose! And the fat, weeping woman at home to whom I must write. If only the letter were sent off already! Hospital-orderlies go to and fro with bottles and pails. One of them comes up, casts a glance at Kemmerich and goes away again. You can see he is waiting, apparently he wants the bed.





I bend over Franz and talk to him as though that could save him:





"Perhaps you will go to the convalescent home at Klosterberg, among the villas, Franz. Then you can look out from the window across the fields to the two trees on the horizon. It is the loveliest time of the year now, when the corn ripens; at evening the fields in the sunlight look like mother-of-pearl. And the lane of poplars by the Klosterbach, where we used to catch sticklebacks! You can build an aquarium again and keep fish in it, and you can go without asking anyone, you can even play the piano if you want to." I lean down over his face which lies in the shadow. He still breathes, lightly. His face is wet, he is crying. What a fine mess I have made of it with my foolish talk!





"But Franz"-I put my arm round his shoulder and put my face against his. "Will you sleep now?"





He does not answer. The tears run down his cheeks. I would like to wipe them away but my handkerchief is too dirty.





An hour passes. I sit tensely and watch his every movement in case he may perhaps say something. What if he were to open his mouth and cry out! But he only weeps, his head turned aside. He does not speak of his mother or his brothers and sisters. He says nothing; all that lies behind him; he is entirely alone now with his little life of nineteen years, and cries because it leaves him. This is the most disturbing and hardest parting that I ever have seen, although it was pretty bad too with Tiedjen, who called for his mother-a big bear of a fellow who, with wild eyes full of terror, held off the doctor from his bed with a dagger until he collapsed.





Suddenly Kemmerich groans and begins to gurgle. I jump up, stumble outside and demand: "Where is the doctor? Where is the doctor?"





As I catch sight of the white apron I seize hold of it: "Come quick, Franz Kemmerich is dying."





He frees himself and asks an orderly standing by: "Which will that be?"





He says: "Bed 26, amputated thigh."





He sniffs: "How should I know anything about it, I've amputated five legs to-day"; he shoves me away, says to the hospital-orderly "You see to it," and hurries off to the operating room.





I tremble with rage as I go along with the orderly. The man looks at me and says: "One operation after another since five o'clock this morning. You know, to-day alone there have been sixteen deaths-yours is the seventeenth.





There will probably be twenty altogether-"





I become faint, all at once I cannot do any more. I won't revile any more, it is senseless, I could drop down and never rise up again. We are by Kemmerich's bed. He is dead. The face is still wet from the tears. The eyes are half open and yellow like old horn buttons. The orderly pokes me in the ribs, "Are you taking his things with you?" I nod. He goes on: "We must take him away at once, we want the bed.





Outside they are lying on the floor."





I collect Kemmerich's things, and untie his identification disc. The orderly asks about the pay-book. I say that it is probably in the orderly-room, and go. Behind me they are already hauling Franz on to a waterproof sheet. Outside the door I am aware of the darkness and the wind as a deliverance. I breathe as deep as I can, and feel the breeze in my face, warm and soft as never before. Thoughts of girls, of flowery meadows, of white clouds suddenly come into my head. My feet begin to move forward in my boots, I go quicker, I run. Soldiers pass by me, I hear their voices without understanding. The earth is streaming with forces which pour into me through the soles of my feet. The night crackles electrically, the front thunders like a concert of drums. My limbs move supplely, I feel my joints strong, I breathe the air deeply. The night lives, I live. I feel a hunger, greater than comes from the belly alone.





Müller stands in front of the hut waiting for me. I give him the boots. We go in and he tries them on. They fit well.





He roots among his supplies and offers me a fine piece of saveloy.





With it goes hot tea and rum.





THREE





Reinforcements have arrived. The vacancies have been filled and the sacks of straw in the huts are already booked. Some of them are old hands, but there are twenty-five men of a later draught from the base. They are about two years younger than us. Kropp nudges me: "Seen the infants?" I nod. We stick out our chests, shave in the open, shove our hands in our pockets, inspect the recruits and feel ourselves stone-age veterans. Katczinsky joins us. We stroll past the horseboxes and go over to the reinforcements, who are already being issued with gas masks and coffee. "Long time since you've had anything decent to eat, eh?" Kat asks one of the youngsters.





He grimaces. "For breakfast, turnip-bread-lunch, turnip-stew-supper, turnip-cutlets and turnip-salad." Kat gives a knowing whistle. "Bread made of turnips? You've been in luck, it's nothing new for it to be made of sawdust. But what do you say to haricot beans? Have some?" The youngster turns red: "You can't kid me."





Katczinsky merely says: "Fetch your mess-tin."





We follow curiously. He takes us to a tub beside his straw sack. Sure enough it is half full of beef and beans. Katczinsky plants himself in front of it like a general and says: "Sharp eyes and light fingers! That's what the Prussians say."





We are surprised. "Great guts, Kat, how did you come by that?" I ask him.





"Ginger was glad I took it. I gave him three pieces of parachute-silk for it. Cold beans taste fine, too."





Patronisingly he gives the youngster a portion and says: "Next time you come with your mess-tin have a cigar or a chew of tobacco in your other hand. Get me?" Then he turns to us. "You get off scot free, of course." We couldn't do without Katczinsky; he has a sixth sense. There are such people everywhere but one does not appreciate it at first. Every company has one or two. Katczinsky is the smartest I know. By trade he is a cobbler, I believe, but that hasn't anything to do with it; he understands all trades. It's a good thing to be friends with him, as Kropp and I are, and Haie Westhus too, more or less. But Haie is rather the executive arm, operating under Kat's orders when things come to blows. For that he has his qualifications. For example, we land at night in some entirely unknown spot, a sorry hole, that has been eaten out to the very walls. We are quartered in a small dark factory adapted to the purpose. There are beds in it, or rather bunks-a couple of wooden beams over which wire netting is stretched. Wire netting is hard. And there's nothing to put on it. Our waterproof sheets are too thin. We use our blankets to cover ourselves. Kat looks at the place and then says to Haie Westhus "Come with me." They go off to explore. Half an hour later they are back again with arms full of straw. Kat has found a horse-box with straw in it. Now we might sleep if we weren't so terribly hungry.





Kropp asks an artilleryman who has been some time in this neighbourhood: "Is there a canteen anywhere abouts?" "Is there a what?" he laughs. "There's nothing to be had here. You won't find so much as a crust of bread here."





"Aren't there any inhabitants here at all then?"





He spits. "Yes, a few. But they hang round the cook-house and beg." "That's a bad business!--Then we'll have to pull in our belts and wait till the rations come up in the morning."





But I see Kat has put on his cap.





"Where to, Kat?" I ask.





"Just to explore the place a bit." He strolls off. The artilleryman grins scornfully. "Go ahead and explore. But don't strain yourself in carrying what you find."





Disappointed we lie down and consider whether we couldn't have a go at the iron rations. But it's too risky; so we try to get a wink of sleep. Kropp divides a cigarette and hands me half. Tjaden gives an account of his national dish-broad-beans and bacon. He despises it when not flavoured with bog-myrtle, and, "for God's sake, let it all be cooked together, not the potatoes, the beans, and the bacon separately." Someone growls that he will pound Tjaden into bog-myrtle if he doesn't shut up. Then all becomes quiet in the big room-only the candles flickering from the necks of a couple of bottles and the artilleryman spitting every now and then. We are just dozing off when the door opens and Kat appears. I think I must be dreaming; he has two loaves of bread under his arm and a bloodstained sandbag full of horse-flesh in his hand. The artilleryman's pipe drops from his mouth. He feels the bread. "Real bread, by God, and still hot too?"





Kat gives no explanation. He has the bread, the rest doesn't matter. I'm sure that if he were planted down in the middle of the desert, in half an hour he would have gathered together a supper of roast meat, dates, and wine. "Cut some wood," he says curtly to Haie.





Then he hauls out a frying pan from under his coat, and a handful of salt as well as a lump of fat from his pocket. He has thought of everything. Haie makes a fire on the floor. It lights up the empty room of the factory. We climb out of bed.





The artilleryman hesitates. He wonders whether to praise Kat and so perhaps gam a little for himself. But Katczinsky doesn't even see him, he might as well be thin air. He goes off cursing.





Kat knows the way to roast horse-flesh so that it's tender. It shouldn't be put straight into the pan, that makes it tough. It should be boiled first in a little water. With our knives we squat round in a circle and fill our bellies. That is Kat. If for one hour in a year something eatable were to be had in some one place only, within that hour, as if moved by a vision, he would put on his cap, go out and walk directly there, as though following a compass, and find it.





He finds everything-if it is cold, a small stove and wood, hay and straw, a table and chairs-but above all food. It is uncanny; one would think he conjured it out of the air. His masterpiece was four boxes of lobsters. Admittedly we would rather have had a good beef steak. We have settled ourselves on the sunny side of the hut. There is a smell of tar, of summer, and of sweaty feet. Kat sits beside me. He likes to talk. Today we have done an hour's saluting drill because Tjaden failed to salute a major smartly enough. Kat can't get it out of his head.





"You take it from me, we are losing the war because we can salute too well," he says.





Kropp stalks up, with his breeches rolled up and his feet bare. He lays out his washed socks to dry on the grass. Kat turns his eyes to heaven, lets off a mighty fart, and says meditatively: "Every little bean must be heard as well as seen."





The two begin to argue. At the same time they lay a bottle of beer on the result of an air-fight that's going on above us. Katczinsky won't budge from the opinion which as an old Front-hog, he rhymes: Give 'em all the same grub and all the same pay And the war would be over and done in a day. Kropp on the other hand is a thinker. He proposes that a declaration of war should be a kind of popular festival with entrance-tickets and bands, like a bull fight. Then in the arena the ministers and generals of the two countries, dressed in bathing-drawers and armed with clubs, can have it out among themselves. Whoever survives, his country wins. That would be much simpler and more just than this arrangement, where the wrong people do the fighting. The subject is dropped. Then the conversation turns to drill. A picture comes before me. Burning midday in the barrack-yard. The heat hangs over the square. The barracks are deserted. Every thing sleeps. All one hears is the drummers practising; they have installed themselves somewhere and practise brokenly, dully, monotonously. What a concord! Midday heat, barrack square, and drummers beating! The windows of the barracks are empty and dark. From some of them trousers are hanging to dry. The rooms are cool and one looks toward them longingly.





O dark, musty platoon huts, with the iron bedsteads, the chequered bedding, the lockers and the stools! Even you can become the object of desire; out here you have a faint resemblance to home; your rooms, full of the smell of stale food, sleep, smoke, and clothes.





Katczinsky paints it all in lively colours. What would we not give to be able to return to it! Farther back than that our thoughts dare not go. Those early morning hours of instruction-"What are the parts of the 98 rifle?"-the midday hours of physical training-"Pianist forward! By the right, quick march. Report to the cook-house for potato-peeling."





We indulge in reminiscences. Kropp laughs suddenly and says:





"Change at Lohne!"





That was our corporal's favourite game. Lohne is a railway junction. In order that our fellows going on shouldn't get lost there, Himmelstoss used to practise the change in the barrack-room. We had to learn that at Lohne, to reach the branch-line, we must pass through a subway. The beds represented the subway and each man stood at attention on the left side of his bed. Then came the command: "Change at Lohne!" and like lightning everyone scrambled under the bed to the opposite side. We practised this for hours on end.





Meanwhile the German aeroplane has been shot down. Like a comet it bursts into a streamer of smoke and falls headlong. Kropp has lost the bottle of beer. Disgruntled he counts out the money from his wallet. "Surely Himmelstoss was a very different fellow as a postman," say I, after Albert's disappointment has subsided. "Then how does it come that he's such a bully as a drill-sergeant?"





The question revives Kropp, more particularly as he hears there's no more beer in the canteen. "It's not only Himmelstoss, there are lots of them. As sure as they get a stripe or a star they become different men, just as though they'd swallowed concrete."





"That's the uniform," I suggest.





"Roughly speaking it is," says Kat, and prepares for a long speech; "but the root of the matter lies somewhere. For instance, if you train a dog to eat potatoes and then afterwards put a piece of meat in front of him, he'll snap at it, it's his nature. And if you give a man a little bit of authority he behaves just the same way, he snaps at it too. The things are precisely the same. In himself man is essentially a beast, only he butters it over like a slice of bread with a little decorum. The army is based on that; one man must always have power over the other. The mischief is merely that each one has much too much power. A non-com, can torment a private, a lieutenant a non-com, a captain a lieutenant, until he goes mad. And because they know they can, they all soon acquire the habit more or less. Take a simple case: we are marching back from the parade-ground dog-tired. Then comes the order to sing. We sing spiritlessly, for it is all we can do to trudge along with our rifles. At once the company is turned about and has to do another hour's drill as punishment. On the march back the order to sing is given again, and once more we start. Now what's the use of all that? It's simply that the company commander's head has been turned by having so much power. And nobody blames him. On the contrary, he is praised for being strict. That, of course, is only a trifling instance, but it holds also in very different affairs. Now I ask you:





Let a man be whatever you like in peacetime, what occupation is there in which he can behave like that without getting a crack on the nose? He can only do that in the army. It goes to the heads of them all, you see. And the more insignificant a man has been in civil life the worse it takes him." "They say, of course, there must be discipline," ventures Kropp meditatively.





"True," growls Kat, "they always do. And it may be so; still it oughtn't to become an abuse. But you try to explain that to a black-smith or a labourer or a workman, you try to make that clear to a peasant-and that's what most of them are here. All he sees is that he has been put through the mill and sent to the front, but he knows well enough what he must do and what not. It's simply amazing, I tell you, that the ordinary tommy sticks it all up here in the frontline. Simply amazing!"





No one protests. Everyone knows that drill ceases only in the frontline and begins again a few miles behind, with all absurdities of saluting and parade. It is an Iron law that the soldier must be employed under every circumstance.





Here Tjaden comes up with a flushed face. He is so excited that he stutters. Beaming with satisfaction he stammers out: "Himmelstoss is on his way. He's coming to the front!"





Tjaden has a special grudge against Himmelstoss, because of the way he educated him in the barracks. Tjaden wets his bed, he does it at night in his sleep. Himmelstoss maintained that it was sheer laziness and invented a method worthy of himself for curing Tjaden.





He hunted up another piss-a-bed, named Kindervater, from a neighbouring unit, and quartered him with Tjaden. In the huts there were the usual bunks, one above the other in pairs, with mattresses of wire netting. Himmelstoss put these two so that one occupied the upper and the other the lower bunk. The man underneath of course had a vile time. The next night they were changed over and the lower one put on top so that he could retaliate. That was Himmelstoss's system of selfeducation. The idea was not low but ill-conceived. Unfortunately it accomplished nothing because the first assumption was wrong: it was not laziness in either of them. Anyone who looked at their sallow skin could see that. The matter ended in one of them always sleeping on the floor, where he frequently caught cold.





Meanwhile Haie sits down beside us. He winks at me and rubs his paws thoughtfully. We once spent the finest day of our army-life together-the day before we left for the front. We had been allotted to one of the recently formed regiments, but were first to be sent back for equipment to the garrison, not to the reinforcement-depot, of course, but to another barracks. We were due to leave next morning early. In the evening we prepared ourselves to square accounts with Himmelstoss.





We had sworn for weeks past to do this. Kropp had even gone so far as to propose entering the postal service in peacetime in order to be Himmelstoss's superior when he became a postman again. He revelled in the thought of how he would grind him. It was this that made it impossible for him to crush us altogether-we always reckoned that later, at the end of the war, we would have our revenge on him.





In the meantime we decided to give him a good hiding. What could he do to us anyhow if he didn't recognise us and we left early in the morning? We knew which pub he used to visit every evening. Returning to the barracks he had to go along a dark, uninhabited road. There we waited for him behind a pile of stones. I had a bed-cover with me. We trembled with suspense, hoping he would be alone. At last we heard his footstep, which we recognised easily, so often had we heard it in the mornings as the door flew open and he bawled: "Get up!"





"Alone?" whispered Kropp.





"Alone."





I slipped round the pile of stones with Tjaden.





Himmelstoss seemed a little elevated; he was singing. His belt-buckle gleamed. He came on unsuspectingly.





We seized the bed-cover, made a quick leap, threw it over his head from behind and pulled it round him so that he stood there in a white sack unable to raise his arms. The singing stopped. The next moment Haie Westhus was there, and spreading his arms he shoved us back in order to be first in. He put himself in position with evident satisfaction, raised his arm like a signal-mast and his hand like a coal-shovel and fetched such a blow on the white sack as would have felled an ox.





Himmelstoss was thrown down, he rolled five yards and started to yell. But we were prepared for that and had brought a cushion. Haie squatted down, laid the cushion on his knees, felt where Himmelstoss's head was and pressed it down on the pillow. Immediately his voice was muffled. Haie let him get a gasp of air every so often, when he would give a mighty yell that was immediately hushed.





Tjaden unbuttoned Himmelstoss's braces and pulled down his trousers, holding the whip meantime in his teeth. Then he stood up and set to work. It was a wonderful picture: Himmelstoss on the ground; Haie bending over him with a fiendish grin and his mouth open with bloodlust, Himmelstoss's head on his knees; then the convulsed striped drawers, the knock knees, executing at every blow most original movements in the lowered breeches, and towering over them like a woodcutter the indefatigable Tjaden. In the end we had to drag him away to get our turn. Finally Haie stood Himmelstoss on his feet again and gave one last personal remonstrance. As he stretched out his right arm preparatory to giving him a box on the ear he looked as if he were going to reach down a star. Himmelstoss toppled over. Haie stood him up again, made ready and fetched him a second, well-aimed beauty with the left hand. Himmelstoss yelled and made off on all fours. His striped postman's backside gleamed in the moonlight.





We disappeared at full speed.





Haie looked round once again and said wrathfully, satisfied and rather mysteriously: "Revenge is black-pudding."





Himmelstoss ought to have been pleased; his saying that we should each educate one another had borne fruit for himself. We had become successful students of his method.





He never discovered whom he had to thank for the business. At any rate he scored a bed-cover out of it; for when we returned a few hours later to look for it, it was no longer to be found.





That evening's work made us more or less content to leave next morning. And an old buffer was pleased to describe us as "young heroes."





FOUR





We have to go up on wiring fatigue. The motor lorries roll up after dark. We climb in. It is a warm evening and the twilight seems like a canopy under whose shelter we feel drawn together. Even the stingy Tjaden gives me a cigarette and then a light.





We stand jammed in together, shoulder to shoulder, there is no room to sit. But we do not expect that. Müller is in a good mood for once; he is wearing his new boots.





The engines drone, the lorries bump and rattle. The roads are worn and full of holes. We dare not show a light so we lurch along and are often almost pitched out. That does not worry us, however. It can happen if it likes; a broken arm is better than a hole in the guts, and many a man would be thankful enough for such a chance of finding his home way again. Beside us stream the munition-columns in long files. They are making the pace, they overtake us continually. We joke with them and they answer back.





A wall becomes visible, it belongs to a house which lies on the side of the road. I suddenly prick up my ears. Am I deceived? Again I hear distinctly the cackle of geese. A glance at Katczinsky-a glance from him to me; we understand one another.





"Kat, I hear some aspirants for the frying-pan over there." He nods. "It will be attended to when we come back. I have their number."





Of course Kat has their number. He knows all about every leg of goose within a radius of fifteen miles.





The lorries arrive at the artillery lines. The gun-emplacements are camouflaged with bushes against aerial observation, and look like a kind of military Feast of the Tabernacles. These branches might seem gay and cheerful were not cannon embowered there.





The air becomes acrid with the smoke of the guns and the fog. The fumes of powder taste bitter on the tongue. The roar of the guns makes our lorry stagger, the reverberation rolls raging away to the rear, everything quakes. Our faces change imperceptibly. We are not, indeed, in the front-line, but only in the reserves, yet in every face can be read: This is the front, now we are within its embrace.





It is not fear. Men who have been up as often as we have become thick skinned. Only the young recruits are agitated. Kat explains to them: "That was a twelve-inch. You can tell by the report; now you'll hear the burst." But the muffled thud of the burst does not reach us. It is swallowed up in the general murmur of the front: Kat listens: "There'll be a bombardment tonight." We all listen. The front is restless. "The Tommies are firing already," says Kropp.





The shelling can be heard distinctly. It is the English batteries to the right of our section. They are beginning an hour too soon. According to us they start punctually at ten o'clock.





"What's got them?" says Müller, "their clocks must be fast." "There'll be a bombardment, I tell you. I can feel it in my bones." Kat shrugs his shoulders.





Three guns open fire close beside us. The burst of flame shoots across the fog, the guns roar and boom. We shiver and are glad to think that we shall be back in the huts early in the morning.





Our faces are neither paler nor more flushed than usual; they are not more tense nor more flabby-and yet they are changed. We feel that in our blood a contact has shot home. That is no figure of speech; it is fact. It is the front, the consciousness of the front, that makes this contact. The moment that the first shells whistle over and the air is rent with the explosions there is suddenly in our veins, in our hands, in our eyes a tense waiting, a watching, a heightening alertness, a strange sharpening of the senses. The body with one bound is in full readiness.





It often seems to me as though it were the vibrating, shuddering air that with a noiseless leap springs upon us; or as though the front itself emitted an electric current which awakened unknown nerve-centres. Every time it is the same. We start out for the front plain soldiers, either cheerful or gloomy: then come the first gun-emplacements and every word of our speech has a new ring.





When Kat stands in front of the hut and says: "There'll be a bombardment," that is merely his own opinion; but if he says it here, then the sentence has the sharpness of a bayonet in the moonlight, it cuts clean through the thought, it thrusts nearer and speaks to this unknown tiling that is awakened in us, a dark meaning-"There'll be a bombardment." Perhaps it is our inner and most secret life that shivers and falls on guard. To me the front is a mysterious whirlpool. Though I am in still water far away from its centre, I feel the whirl of the vortex sucking me slowly, irresistibly, inescapably into itself.





From the earth, from the air, sustaining forces pour into us-mostly from the earth. To no man does the earth mean so much as to the soldier. When he presses himself down upon her long and powerfully, when he buries his face and his limbs deep in her from the fear of death by shell-fire, then she is his only friend, his brother, his mother; he stifles his terror and his cries in her silence and her security; she shelters him and releases him for ten seconds to live, to run, ten seconds of life; receives him again and often for ever. Earth!--Earth!--Earth!





Earth with thy folds, and hollows, and holes, into which a man may fling himself and crouch down. In the spasm of terror, under the hailing of annihilation, in the bellowing death of the explosions, O Earth, thou grantest us the great resisting surge of new-won life. Our being, almost utterly carried away by the fury of the storm, streams back through our hands from thee, and we, thy redeemed ones, bury ourselves in thee, and through the long minutes in a mute agony of hope bite into thee with our lips! At the sound of the first droning of the shells we rush back, in one part of our being, a thousand years. By the animal instinct that is awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness. One cannot explain it. A man is walking along without thought or heed;--suddenly he throws himself down on the ground and a storm of fragments flies harmlessly over him;--yet he cannot remember either to have heard the shell coming or to have thought of flinging himself down. But had he not abandoned himself to the impulse he would now be a heap of mangled flesh. It is this other, this second sight in us, that has thrown us to the ground and saved us, without our knowing how. If it were not so, there would notice one man alive from Flanders to the Vosges. We march up, moody or good-tempered soldiers-we reach the zone where the front begins and become on the instant human animals. An indigent looking wood receives us. We pass by the soup-kitchens. Under cover of the wood we climb out. The lorries turn back. They are to collect us again in the morning before dawn.





Mist and the smoke of guns lie breast-high over the fields. The moon is shining. Along the road troops file. Their helmets gleam softly in the moonlight. The heads and the rifles stand out above the white mist, nodding heads, rocking barrels. Farther on the mist ends. Here the heads become figures; coats, trousers, and boots appear out of the mist as from a milky pool. They become a column. The column marches on, straight ahead, the figures resolve themselves into a block, individuals are no longer recognisable, the dark wedge presses onward, fantastically topped by the heads and weapons floating on the milky pool. A column-not men at all. Guns and munition wagons are moving along a cross-road. The backs of the horses shine in the moonlight, their movements are beautiful, they toss their heads, and their eyes gleam. The guns and the wagons float past the dun background of the moonlit landscape, the riders in their steel helmets resemble knights of a forgotten time; it is strangely beautiful and arresting. We push on to the pioneer dump. Some of us load our shoulders with pointed and twisted iron stakes; others thrust smooth iron rods through rolls of wire and go off with them. The burdens are awkward and heavy. The ground becomes more broken. From ahead come warnings: "Look out, deep shell-hole on the left"-"Mind, trenches"-Our eyes peer out, our feet and our sticks feel in front of us before they take the weight of the body. Suddenly the line halts; I bump my face against the roll of wire carried by the man in front and curse.





There are some shell-smashed lorries in the road. Another order:





"Cigarettes and pipes out." We are near the line.





In the meantime it has become pitch dark. We skirt a small wood and then have the front-line immediately before us.





An uncertain red glow spreads along the skyline from one end to the other. It is in perpetual movement, punctuated with the bursts of flame from the nozzles of the batteries. Balls of light rise up high above it, silver and red spheres which explode and rain down in showers of red, white, and green stars. French rockets go up, which unfold a silk parachute to the air and drift slowly down. They light up everything as bright as day, their light shines on us and we see our shadows sharply outlined on the ground. They hover for the space of a minute before they burn out. Immediately fresh ones shoot up in the sky, and again green, red, and blue stars.





"Bombardment," says Kat.





The thunder of the guns swells to a single heavy roar and then breaks up again into separate explosions. The dry bursts of the machine-guns rattle. Above us the air teems with invisible swift movement, with howls, pipings, and hisses. They are smaller shells;--and amongst them, booming through the night like an organ, go the great coal-boxes and the heavies. They have a hoarse, distant bellow like a rutting stag and make their way high above the howl and whistle of the smaller shells. It reminds me of flocks of wild geese when I hear them. Last autumn the wild geese flew day after day across the path of the shells.





The searchlights begin to sweep the dark sky. They slide along it like gigantic tapering rulers. One of them pauses, and quivers a little. Immediately a second is beside him, a black insect is caught between them and tries to escape-the airman. He hesitates, is blinded and falls. At regular intervals we ram in the iron stakes. Two men hold a roll and the others spool off the barbed wire. It is that awful stuff with close-set, long spikes. I am not used to unrolling it and tear my hand. After a few hours it is done. But there is still some time before the lorries come. Most of us lie down and sleep. I try also, but it has turned too chilly. We know we are not far from the sea because we are constantly waked by the cold.





Once I fall fast asleep. Then wakening suddenly with a start I do not know where I am. I see the stars, I see the rockets, and for a moment have the impression that I have fallen asleep at a garden fête. I don't know whether it is morning or evening, I lie in the pale cradle of the twilight, and listen for soft words which will come, soft and near-am I crying? I put my hand to my eyes, it is so fantastic, am I a child? Smooth skin;--it lasts only a second, then I recognise the silhouette of Katczinsky. The old veteran, he sits quietly and smokes his pipe-a covered pipe of course. When he sees I am awake, he says: "That gave you a fright. It was only a nose-cap, it landed in the bushes over there."





I sit up, I feel myself strangely alone. It's good Kat is there. He gazes thoughtfully at the front and says: "Mighty fine fire-works if they weren't so dangerous."





One lands behind us. Some recruits jump up terrified. A couple of minutes later another comes over, nearer this time. Kat knocks out his pipe. "We're in for it."





Then it begins in earnest. We crawl away as well as we can in our haste. The next lands fair amongst us. Two fellows cry out. Green rockets shoot up on the sky-line. Barrage. The mud flies high, fragments whizz past. The crack of the guns is heard long after the roar of the explosions. Beside us lies a fair-headed recruit in utter terror. He has buried his face in his hands, his helmet has fallen off I fish hold of it and try to put it back on his head. He looks up, pushes the helmet off and like a child creeps under my arm, his head close to my breast. The little shoulders heave. Shoulders just like Kemmerich's. I let him be. So that the helmet should be of some use I stick it on his behind;--not for a jest, but out of consideration, since that is his highest part. And though there is plenty of meat there, a shot in it can be damned painful. Besides, a man has to lie for months on his belly in the hospital, and afterwards he would be almost sure to have a limp. It's got someone pretty badly. Cries are heard between the explosions. At last it grows quiet. The fire has lifted over us and is now dropping on the reserves. We risk a look. Red rockets shoot up to the sky. Apparently there's an attack coming.





Where we are it is still quiet. I sit up and shake the recruit by the shoulder. "All over, kid! It's all right this time."





He looks round him dazedly. "You'll get used to it soon," I tell him. He sees his helmet and puts it on. Gradually he comes to. Then suddenly he turns fiery red and looks confused. Cautiously he reaches his hand to his behind and looks at me dismally.





I understand at once: Gun-shy. That wasn't the reason I had stuck his helmet over it. "That's no disgrace," I reassure him: "Many's the man before you has had his pants full after the first bombardment. Go behind that bush there and throw your underpants away. Get along-"-" He goes off. Things become quieter, but the cries do not cease. "What's up, Albert?" I ask.





"A couple of columns over there got it in the neck."





The cries continued. It is not men, they could not cry so terribly.





"Wounded horses," says Kat.





It's unendurable. It is the moaning of the world, it is the martyred creation, wild with anguish, filled with terror, and groaning. We are pale. Detering stands up. "God! For God's sake! Shoot them." He is a farmer and very fond of horses. It gets under his skin. Then as if deliberately the fire dies down again. The screaming of the beasts becomes louder. One can no longer distinguish whence in this now quiet silvery landscape it comes; ghostly, invisible, it is everywhere, between heaven and earth it rolls on immeasurably. Detering raves and yells out: "Shoot them! Shoot them, can't you? damn you again!"





"They must look after the men first," says Kat quietly. We stand up and try to see where it is. If we could only see the animals we should be able to endure it better. Müller has a pair of glasses. We see a dark group, bearers with stretchers, and larger black clumps moving about. Those are the wounded horses. But not all of them. Some gallop away in the distance, fall down, and then run on farther. The belly of one is ripped open, the guts trail out. He becomes tangled in them and falls, then he stands up again.





Detering raises up his gun and aims. Kat hits it in the air. "Are you mad--?"





Detering trembles and throws his rifle on the ground. We sit down and hold our ears. But this appalling noise, these groans and screams penetrate, they penetrate everywhere. We can bear almost anything. But now the sweat breaks out on us. We must get up and run no matter where, but where these cries can no longer be heard. And it is not men, only horses.





From the dark group stretchers move off again. Then single shots crack out. The black heap convulses and then sinks down. At last! But still it is not the end. The men cannot overtake the wounded beasts which fly in their pain, their wide open mouths full of anguish. One of the men goes down on one knee, a shot-one horse drops-another. The last one props itself on its forelegs and drags itself round in a circle like a merry-go-round; squatting, it drags round in circles on its stiffened forelegs, apparently its back is broken. The soldier runs up and shoots it. Slowly, humbly, it sinks to the ground. We take our hands from our ears. The cries are silenced. Only a longdrawn, dying sigh still hangs on the air.





Then only again the rockets, the singing of the shells and the stars there-most strange.





Detering walks up and down cursing: "Like to know what harm they've done." He returns to it once again. His voice is agitated, it sounds almost dignified as he says: "I tell you it is the vilest baseness to use horses in the war."





We go back. It is time we returned to the lorries. The sky is become brighter. Three o'clock in the morning. The breeze is fresh and cool, the pale hour makes our faces look grey.





We trudge onward in single file through the trenches and shell-holes and come again to the zone of mist. Katczinsky is restive, that's a bad sign. "What's up, Kat?" says Kropp.





"I wish I were back home." Home-he means the huts.





"We'll soon be out of it, Kat."





He is nervous. "I don't know, I don't know-"





We come to the communication-trench and then to the open fields. The little wood reappears; we know every foot of ground here. There's the cemetery with the mounds and the black crosses.





That moment it breaks out behind us, swells, roars, and thunders. We duck down-a cloud of flame shoots up a hundred yards ahead of us. The next minute under a second explosion part of the wood rises slowly in the air, three or four trees sail up and then crash to pieces. The shells begin to hiss like safety-valves-heavy fire-"Take cover!" yells somebody-"Cover!"





The fields are flat, the wood is too distant and dangerous-the only cover is the graveyard and the mounds. We stumble across in the dark and as though he had been spat there every man lies glued behind a mound. Not a moment too soon. The dark goes mad. It heaves and raves. Darknesses blacker than the night rush on us with giant strides, over us and away. The flames of the explosions light up the graveyard. There is no escape anywhere. By the light of the shells I try to get a view of the fields. They are a surging sea, daggers of flame from the explosions leap up like fountains. It is impossible for anyone to break through it.





The wood vanishes, it is pounded, crushed, torn to pieces. We must stay here in the graveyard.





The earth bursts before us. It rains clods. I feel a smack. My sleeve is torn away by a splinter. I shut my fist. No pain. Still that does not reassure me: wounds don't hurt till afterwards. I feel the arm all over. It is grazed but sound. Now a crack on the skull, I begin to lose consciousness. Like lightning the thought comes to me: Don't faint! I sink down in the black broth and immediately come up to the top again. A splinter slashes into my helmet, but has already travelled so far that it does not go through. I wipe the mud out of my eyes. A hole is torn up in front of me. Shells hardly ever land in the same hole twice, I'll get into it. With one lunge, I shoot as flat as a fish over the ground; there it whistles again, quickly I crouch together, claw for cover, feel something on the left, shove in beside it, it gives way, I groan, the earth leaps, the blast thunders in my ears, I creep under the yielding thing, cover myself with it, draw it over me, it is wood, cloth, cover, cover, miserable cover against the whizzing splinters.





I open my eyes-my fingers grasp a sleeve, an arm. A wounded man? I yell to him-no answer-a dead man. My hand gropes farther, splinters of wood-now I remember again that we are lying in the graveyard. But the shelling is stronger than everything. It wipes out the sensibilities, I merely crawl still farther under the coffin, it shall protect me, though Death himself lies in it.





Before me gapes the shell-hole. I grasp it with my eyes as with fists. With one leap I must be in it. There, I get a smack in the face, a hand clamps onto my shoulder-has the dead man waked up?--The hand shakes me, I turn my head, in the second of light I stare into the face of Katczinsky, he has his mouth wide open and is yelling. I hear nothing, he rattles me, comes nearer, in a momentary lull his voice reaches me: "Gas-Gaas-Gaaas-Pass it on." I grab for my gas-mask. Some distance from me there lies someone. I think of nothing but this: That fellow there must know: Gaaas-Gaaas-I call, I lean toward him, I swipe at him with the satchel, he doesn't see-once again, again-he merely ducks-it's a recruit-I look at Kat desperately, he has his mask on-I pull out mine, too, my helmet falls to one side, it slips over my face, I reach the man, his satchel is on the side nearest me, I seize the mask, pull it over his head, he understands, I let go and with a jump drop into the shell-hole.





The dull thud of the gas-shells mingles with the crashes of the high explosives. A bell sounds between the explosions, gongs, and metal clappers warning everyone-Gas-Gas-Gaas.





Someone plumps down behind me, another. I wipe the goggles of my mask clear of the moist breath. It is Kat, Kropp, and someone else. All four of us lie there in heavy, watchful suspense and breathe as lightly as possible. These first minutes with the mask decide between life and death: is it air-tight? I remember the awful sights in the hospital: the gas patients who in day-long suffocation cough up their burnt lungs in clots. Cautiously, the mouth applied to the valve, I breathe. The gas still creeps over the ground and sinks into all hollows. Like a big, soft jellyfish it floats into our shell-hole and lolls there obscenely. I nudge Kat, it is better to crawl out and lie on top than to stay where the gas collects most. But we don't get as far as that; a second bombardment begins. It is no longer as though shells roared; it is the earth itself raging.





With a crash something black bears down on us. It lands close beside us; a coffin thrown up.





I see Kat move and I crawl across. The coffin has hit the fourth man in our hole on his out-stretched arm. He tries to tear off his gas-mask with the other hand. Kropp seizes him just in time, twists the hand sharply behind his back and holds it fast. Kat and I proceed to free the wounded arm. The coffin lid is loose and bursts open, we are easily able to pull it off, we toss the corpse out, it slides down to the bottom of the shell-hole, then we try to loosen the under-part.





Fortunately the man swoons and Kropp is able to help us. We no longer have to be careful, but work away till the coffin gives with a sigh before the spade that we have dug in under it.





It has grown lighter. Kat takes a piece of the lid, places it under the shattered arm, and we wrap all our bandages round it. For the moment we can do no more.





Inside the gas-mask my head booms and roars-it is nigh bursting. My lungs are tight, they breathe always the same hot, used-up air, the veins on my temples are swollen. I feel I am suffocating.





A grey light filters through to us. I climb out over the edge of the shellhole. In the duty twilight lies a leg torn clean off; the boot is quite whole, I take that all in at a glance. Now something stands up a few yards distant. I polish the windows, in my excitement they are immediately dimmed again. I peer through them, the man there no longer wears his mask. I wait some seconds-he has not collapsed-he looks around and makes a few paces-rattling in my throat I tear my mask off too and fall down, the air streams into me like cold water, my eyes are bursting the wave sweeps over me and extinguishes me.





The shelling has ceased, I turn towards the crater and beckoning to the others. They take off their masks. We lift up the wounded man, one taking his splinted arm. And so we stumble off hastily.





The graveyard is a mass of wreckage. Coffins and corpses lie strewn about. They have been killed once again; but each of them that was flung up saved one of us.





The hedge is destroyed, the rails of the light railway are torn up and rise stiffly in the air in great arches. Someone lies in front of us. We stop;





Kropp goes on alone with the wounded man.





The man on the ground is a recruit. His hip is covered with blood; he is so exhausted that I feel for my water-bottle where I have rum and tea. Kat restrains my hand and stoops over him.





"Where's it got you comrade?"





His eyes move. He is too weak to answer.





We slit open his trousers carefully. He groans. "Gently, gently, it is much better-" If he has been hit in the stomach he oughtn't to drink anything. There's no vomiting, that's a good sign. We lay the hip bare. It is one mass of mincemeat and bone splinters. The joint has been hit. This lad won't walk any more.





I wet his temples with a moistened finger and give him a swig. His eyes move again. We see now that the right arm is bleeding as well. Kat spreads out two wads of dressing as wide as possible so that they will cover the wound. I look for something to bind loosely round it. We have nothing more, so I slip up the wounded man's trouser leg still farther in order to use a piece of his underpants as a bandage. But he is wearing none. I now look at him closely. He is the fair-headed boy of a little while ago. In the meantime Kat has taken a bandage from a dead man's pocket and we carefully bind the wound. I say to the youngster who looks at us fixedly: "We're going for a stretcher now-" Then he opens his mouth and whispers: "Stay here-" "We'll be back again soon," says Kat, "We are only going to get a stretcher for you."





We don't know if he understands. He whimpers like a child and plucks at us: "Don't go away-" Kat looks around and whispers: "Shouldn't we just take a revolver and put an end to it?"





The youngster will hardly survive the carrying, and at the most he will only last a few days. What he has gone through so far is nothing to what he's in for till he dies. Now he is numb and feels nothing. In an hour he will become one screaming bundle of intolerable pain. Every day that he can live will be a howling torture. And to whom does it matter whether he has them or not - I nod. "Yes, Kat, we ought to put him out of his misery." He stands still a moment. He has made up his mind. We look round- but we are no longer alone. A little group is gathering, from the shell-holes and trenches appear heads.





We get a stretcher.





Kat shakes his head. "Such a kid-" He repeats it "Young innocents-" Our losses are less than was to be expected-five killed and eight wounded. It was in fact quite a short bombardment. Two of our dead lie in the upturned graves. We merely throw the earth in on them.





We go back. We trot off silently in single file one behind the other. The wounded are taken to the dressing-station. The morning is cloudy. The bearers make a fuss about numbers and tickets, the wounded whimper. It begins to rain.





An hour later we reach our lorries and climb in. There is more room now than there was.





The rain becomes heavier. We take out waterproof sheets and spread them over our heads. The rain rattles down, and flows off at the sides in streams. The lorries bump through the holes, and we rock to and fro in a halfsleep. Two men in the front of the lorry have long forked poles. They watch for telephone wires which hang crosswise over the road so low that they might easily pull our heads off. The two fellows take them at the right moment on their poles and lift them over behind us. We hear their call "Mind-wire--," dip the knee in a half-sleep and straighten up again.





Monotonously the lorries sway, monotonously come the calls, monotonously falls the rain. It falls on our heads and on the heads of the dead up in the line, on the body of the little recruit with the wound that is so much too big for his hip; it falls on Kemmerich's grave; it falls in our hearts. An explosion sounds somewhere. We wince, our eyes become tense, our hands are ready to vault over the side of the lorry into the ditch by the road.





Nothing happens-only the monotonous cry: "Mind-wire,"-our knees bend-we are again half asleep.





FIVE





Killing each separate louse is a tedious business when a man has hundreds. The little beasts are hard and the everlasting cracking with one's fingernails very soon becomes wearisome. So Tjaden has rigged up the lid of a bootpolish tin with a piece of wire over the lighted stump of a candle. The lice are simply thrown into this little pan. Crack! and they're done for. We sit around with our shirts on our knees, our bodies naked to the warm air and our hands at work. Haie has a particularly fine brand of louse: they have a red cross on their heads. He suggests that he brought them back from the hospital at Thourhout, where they attended personally on a surgeongeneral. He says he means to use the fat that slowly accumulates in the tin-lid for polishing his boots, and roars with laughter for half an hour at his own joke. But he gets little response to-day; we are too preoccupied with another affair.





The rumour has materialised. Himmelstoss has come. He appeared yesterday; we've already heard the well-known voice. He seems to have overdone it with a couple of young recruits on the ploughed field at home and unknown to him the son of the local magistrate was watching. That cooked his goose.





He will get some surprises here. Tjaden has been meditating for hours what to say to him. Haie gazes thoughtfully at his great paws and winks at me. The thrashing was the high water mark of his life. He tells me he often dreams of it. Kropp and Müller are amusing themselves. From somewhere or other, probably the pioneer-cook-house, Kropp has bagged for himself a mess-tin full of beans. Müller squints hungrily into it but checks himself and says "Albert, what would you do if it were suddenly peace-time again?" "There won't be any peace-time," says Albert bluntly.





"Well, but if-" persists Müller, "what would you do?"





"Clear out of this!" growls Kropp.





"Of course. And then what?"





"Get drunk," says Albert.





"Don't talk rot, I mean seriously-"





"So do I," says Kropp, "what else should a man do?" Kat becomes interested. He levies tribute on Kropp's tin of beans, swallows some, then considers for a while and says: "You might get drunk first, of course, but then you'd take the next train for home and mother. Peacetime, man, Albert-" He fumbles in his oil-cloth pocket-book for a photograph and suddenly shows it all round. "My old woman!" Then he puts it back and swears:





"Damned lousy war-"





"It's all very well for you to talk," I tell him. "You've a wife and children."





"True," he nods, "and I have to see to it that they've something to eat." We laugh. "They won't lack for that, Kat, you'd scrounge it from somewhere."





Müller is insatiable and gives himself no peace. He wakes Haie Westhus out of his dream. "Haie, what would you do if it was peacetime?" "Give you a kick in the backside for the way you talk," I say. "How does it come about exactly?"





"How does the cow-shit come on the roof?" retorts Müller laconically, and turns to Haie Westhus again.





It is too much for Haie. He shakes his freckled head: "You mean when the war's over?"





"Exactly. You've said it."





"Well, there'd be women of course, eh?"-Haie licks his lips.





"Sure."





"By Jove, yes," says Haie, his face melting, "then I'd grab some good buxom dame, some real kitchen wench with plenty to get hold of, you know, and jump straight into bed. Just you think, boys, a real featherbed with a spring mattress; I wouldn't put trousers on again for a week." Everyone is silent. The picture is too good. Our flesh creeps. At last Müller pulls himself together and says: "And then what?" A pause. Then Haie explains rather awkwardly: "If I were a non-com.





I'd stay with the Prussians and serve out my time."





"Haie, you've got a screw loose, surely!" I say.





"Have you ever dug peat?" he retorts good-naturedly. "You try it." Then he pulls a spoon out of the top of his boot and reaches over into Kropp's mess-tin.





"It can't be worse than digging trenches," I venture. Haie chews and grins: "It lasts longer though. And there's no getting out of it either."





"But, man, surely it's better at home."





"Some ways," says he, and with open mouth sinks into a day-dream. You can see what he is thinking. There is the mean little hut on the moors, the hard work on the heath from morning till night in the heat, the miserable pay, the dirty labourer's clothes.





"In the army in peace-time you've nothing to trouble about," he goes on, "your food's found every day, or else you kick up a row; you've a bed, every week clean underwear like a perfect gent, you do your non-com.'s duty, you have a good suit of clothes; in the evening you're a free man and go off to the pub."





Haie is extraordinarily set on his idea. He's in love with it. "And when your twelve years are up you get your pension and become the village bobby, and you can walk about the whole day." He's already sweating on it. "And just you think how you'd be treated.





Here a dram, there a pint. Everybody wants to be well in with a bobby."





"You'll never be a non-com, though, Haie," interrupts Kat. Haie looks at him sadly and is silent. His thoughts still linger over the clear evenings in autumn, the Sundays in the heather, the village bells, the afternoons and evenings with the servant girls, the fried bacon and barley, the care-free hours in the ale-house-He can't part with all these dreams so abruptly; he merely growls: "What silly questions you do ask." He pulls his shirt over his head and buttons up his tunic.





"What would you do, Tjaden!" asks Kropp.





Tjaden thinks of one thing only. "See to it that Himmelstoss didn't get past me."





Apparently he would like most to have him in a cage and sail into him with a club every morning. To Kropp he says warmly: "If I were in your place I'd see to it that I became a lieutenant. Then you could grind him till the water in his backside boils."





"And you, Detering!" asks Müller like an inquisitor. He's a born schoolmaster with all his questions.





Detering is sparing with his words. But on this subject he speaks. He looks at the sky and says only the one sentence: "I would go straight on with the harvesting."





Then he gets up and walks off.





He is worried. His wife has to look after the farm. They've already taken away two more of his horses. Every day he reads the papers that come, to see whether it is raining in his little corner of Oldenburg. They haven't brought in the hay yet At this moment Himmelstoss appears. He comes straight up to our group. Tjaden's face turns red. He stretches his length on the grass and shuts his eyes in excitement.





Himmelstoss is a little hesitant, his gait becomes slower. Then he marches up to us. No one makes any motion to stand up. Kropp looks up at him with interest.





He continues to stand in front of us and wait. As no one says anything he launches a "Well!"





A couple of seconds go by. Apparently Himmelstoss doesn't quite know what to do. He would like most to set us all on the run again. But he seems to have learned already that the front-line isn't a parade ground. He tries it on though, and by addressing himself to one instead of to all of us hopes to get some response. Kropp is nearest, so he favours him. "Well, you here too?"





But Albert's no friend of his. "A bit longer than you, I fancy," he retorts. The red moustache twitches: "You don't recognise me any more, what?"





Tjaden now opens his eyes. "I do though."





Himmelstoss turns to him: 'Tjaden, isn't it?"





Tjaden lifts his head. "And do you know what you are?" Himmelstoss is disconcerted. "Since when have we become so familiar? I don't remember that we ever slept in the gutter together?" He has no idea what to make of the situation. He didn't expect this open hostility. But he is on his guard: he has already had some rot dinned into him about getting a shot in the back.





The question about the gutter makes Tjaden so mad that he becomes almost witty: "No you slept there by yourself."





Himmelstoss begins to boil. But Tjaden gets in ahead of him. He must bring off his insult: "Wouldn't you like to know what you are? A dirty hound, that's what you are. I've been wanting to tell you that for a long time."





The satisfaction of months shines in his dull pig's eyes as he spits out:





"Dirty hound!"





Himmelstoss lets fly too, now. "What's that, you muck-rake, you dirty peat-stealer? Stand up there, bring your heels together when your superior officer speaks to you."





Tjaden waves him off. "You take a run and jump at yourself, Himmelstoss."





Himmelstoss is a raging book of army regulations. The Kaiser couldn't be more insulted. "Tjaden, I command you, as your superior officer: Stand up!"





"Anything else you would like?" asks Tjaden.





"Will you obey my order or not?"





Tjaden replies, without knowing it, in the well-known classical phrase.





At the same time he ventilates his backside.





"I'll have you court-martialled," storms Himmelstoss. We watch him disappear in the direction of the Orderly Room. Haie and Tjaden burst into a regular peat-digger's bellow. Haie laughs so much that he dislocates his jaw, and suddenly stands there helpless with his mouth wide open. Albert has to put it back again by giving it a blow with his fist. Kat is troubled: "If he reports you, it'll be pretty serious."





"Do you think he will?" asks Tjaden.





"Sure to," I say.





"The least you'll get will be five days close arrest," says Kat.





That doesn't worry Tjaden. "Five days clink are five days rest."





"And if they send you to the Fortress?" urges the thoroughgoing Müller.





"Well, for the time being the war will be over so far as I am concerned." Tjaden is a cheerful soul. There aren't any worries for him. He goes off with Haie and Leer so that they won't find him in the first flush of excitement. Müller hasn't finished yet. He tackles Kropp again.





"Albert, if you were really at home now, what would you do?" Kropp is contented now and more accommodating: "How many of us were there in the class exactly?"





We count up: out of twenty, seven are dead, four wounded, one in a mad-house. That makes twelve.





"Three of them are lieutenants," says Müller. "Do you think they would still let Kantorek sit on them?"





We guess not: we wouldn't let ourselves be sat on for that matter. "What do you mean by the three-fold theme in "William Tell'?" says Kropp reminiscently, and roars with laughter.





"What was the purpose of the Poetic League of Göttingen?" asked Müller suddenly and earnestly.





"How many children had Charles the Bald?" I interrupt gently.





"You'll never make anything of your life, Bäumer," croaks Müller.





"When was the battle of Zana?" Kropp wants to know.





"You lack the studious mind, Kropp, sit down, three minus-" I say. "What offices did Lycurgus consider the most important for the state?" asks Müller, pretending to take off his pince-nez.





"Does it go: 'We Germans fear God and none else in the whole world,' or 'We, the Germans, fear God and-' " I submit.





"How many inhabitants has Melbourne?" asks Müller. "How do you expect to succeed in life if you don't know that?" I ask Albert hotly.





Which he caps with: "What is meant by Cohesion?" We remember mighty little of all that rubbish. Anyway, it has never been the slightest use to us. At school nobody ever taught us how to light a cigarette in a storm of rain, nor how a fire could be made with wet wood-nor that it is best to stick a bayonet in the belly because there it doesn't get jammed, as it does in the ribs.





Müller says thoughtfully: "What's the use? We'll have to go back and sit on the forms again."





I consider that out of the question. "We might take a special exam." "That needs preparation. And if you do get through, what then? A student's life isn't any better. If you have no money, you have to work like the devil."





"It's a bit better. But it's rot all the same, everything they teach you." Kropp supports me: "How can a man take all that stuff seriously when he's once been out here?"





"Still you must have an occupation of some sort," insists Müller, as though he were Kantorek himself.





Albert cleans his nails with a knife. We are surprised at this delicacy. But it is merely pensiveness. He puts the knife away and continues: "That's just it. Kat and Detering and Haie will go back to their jobs because they had them already. Himmelstoss too. But we never had any. How will we ever get used to one after this, here?"-he makes a gesture toward the front. "What we'll want is a private income, and then we'll be able to live by ourselves in a wood," I say, but at once feel ashamed of this absurd idea. "But what will really happen when we go back?" wonders Müller, and even he is troubled.





Kropp gives a shrug. "I don't know. Let's get back first, then we'll find out."





We are all utterly at a loss. "What could we do?" I ask. "I don't want to do anything," replies Kropp wearily. "You'll be dead one day, so what does it matter? I don't think we'll ever go back." "When I think about it, Albert," I say after a while rolling over on my back, "when I hear the word 'peace-time,' it goes to my head: and if it really came, I think I would do some unimaginable thing-something, you know, that it's worth having lain here in the muck for. But I can't even imagine anything. All I do know is that this business about professions and studies and salaries and so on-it makes me sick, it is and always was disgusting. I don't see anything at all, Albert."





All at once everything seems to me confused and hopeless. Kropp feels it too. "It will go pretty hard with us all. But nobody at home seems to worry much about it. Two years of shells and bombs-a man won't peel that off as easy as a sock."





We agree that it's the same for everyone; not only for us here, but everywhere, for everyone who is of our age; to some more, and to others less. It is the common fate of our generation.





Albert expresses it: "The war has ruined us for everything." He is right. We are not youth any longer. We don't want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces. The first bomb, the first explosion, burst in our hearts. We are cut off from activity, from striving, from progress. We believe in such things no longer, we believe in the war.





The Orderly Room shows signs of life. Himmelstoss seems to have stirred them up. At the head of the column trots the fat sergeant-major. It is queer that almost all of the regular sergeant-majors are fat. Himmelstoss follows him, thirsting for vengeance. His boots gleam in the sun.





We get up.





"Where's Tjaden?" the sergeant puffs.





No one knows, of course. Himmelstoss glowers at us wrathfully. "You know very well. You won't say, that's the fact of the matter. Out with it!" Fatty looks round enquiringly; but Tjaden is not to be seen. He tries another way.





"Tjaden will report at the Orderly Room in ten minutes."





Then he steams off with Himmelstoss in his wake.





"I have a feeling that next time we go up wiring I'll be letting a bundle of wire fall on Himmelstoss's leg," hints Kropp.





"We'll have quite a lot of jokes with him," laughs Müller-That is our sole ambition: to knock the conceit out of a postman. I go into the hut and put Tjaden wise. He disappears. Then we change our possy and lie down again to play cards. We know how to do that: to play cards, to swear, and to fight. Not much for twenty years;--and yet too much for twenty years.





Half an hour later Himmelstoss is back again. Nobody pays any attention to him. He asks for Tjaden. We shrug our shoulders. "Then you'd better find him," he persists. "Haven't you been to look for him?"





Kropp lies back on the grass and says: "Have you ever been out here before?"





"That's none of your business," retorts Himmelstoss. "I expect an answer."





"Very good," says Kropp, getting up. "See up there where those little white clouds are. Those are anti-aircraft. We were over there yesterday. Five dead and eight wounded. And that's a mere nothing. Next time, when you go up with us, before they die the fellows will come up to you, click their heels, and ask stiffly: 'Please may I go? Please may I hop it? We've been waiting here a long time for someone like you.'"





He sits down again and Himmelstoss disappears like a comet.





"Three days C. B.," conjectures Kat.





"Next time I'll let fly," I say to Albert.





But that is the end. The case comes up for trial in the evening. In the Orderly Room sits our Lieutenant, Berti