Above the Battle/Chapter 13

Above the Battle by Romain Rolland, translated by Charles Kay Ogden
XIII. Letter to the "Svenska Dagbladet"



The European thought of to-morrow is with the armies. The furious intellectuals in one camp and the other who insult one another do not represent it at all. The voice of the peoples who will return from the war, after having experienced the terrible reality, will send back into the silence of obscurity these men who have revealed themselves as unworthy to be spiritual guides of the human race. Amongst those who thus retire more than one St. Peter will then hear the cock crow, and will weep saying, "Lord, I have denied thee!"

The destinies of humanity will rise superior to those of all the nations. Nothing will be able to prevent the reforming of the bonds between the thought of the hostile nations. Whatever nation should stand aside would commit suicide. For by means of these bonds the tide of life is kept in motion.

But they have never been completely broken, even at the height of the war. The war has even had the sad advantage of grouping together throughout the universe the minds who reject national hatred. It has tempered their strength, it has welded their wills into a solid block. Those are mistaken who think that the ideals of a free human fraternity are at present stifled! They are but silent under the gag of military (and civil) dictation which reigns throughout Europe. But the gag will fall, and they will burst forth with explosive force. I am agonised by the sufferings of millions of innocent victims, sacrificed to-day on the field of battle, but I have no anxiety for the future unity of European society. It will be realised anew. The war of to-day is its baptism of blood.

R. R.

April 10, 1915.

  1. The Svenska Dagbladet sent to the principal intellectuals of Europe an inquiry on the subject of the results which the war would have, "for international collaboration, in the domain of the spirit." It asked "with anxiety, to what extent it would be possible, once peace was concluded, to establish relations between the scientists, writers, and artists of the different nations."