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The Murder of the Élite

The second fragment is the account of a touching encounter with a French prisoner:

Yesterday evening I was strangely touched. I happened to see a convoy of prisoners and I talked to one of them, a colleague of mine, Professor of classical philology in the college of F——. Such an open-minded, intelligent man, and with such a fine military bearing, like all his fellows, although they had just been through a terrible experience of machine-gun fire.… It was a proof to me of the senselessness of the war. I thought how much one would have liked to be the friend of these men, who are so near us in their education, their mode of life, the circle of their thought and their interest. We started talking about a book on Rousseau and we began to dispute like old philologists.… How much we are alike in force and worth! And how little truth there is in what our papers tell us of the shaken and exhausted conditions of the French troops! As true, or rather as untrue, as what the French newspapers write about us.… My French colleague showed in his remarks such a balanced mind and such understanding and admiration of German thought! To think that we were made so clearly to be friends and that we had to be separated! I was altogether overcome, and sat down crushed by it. I thought and thought and could not escape my mood by any sophistry. No end, no end to war, which for nearly six months now has swallowed in its gulf men, fortunes, and happiness! And this feeling is the same with us as with the other side. It is always the same picture: we do the same thing, we suffer the same thing, we are the same thing. And it is precisely for this reason that we are so bitterly at enmity.…

The same accent of troubled anguish, together with a despair which at moments nearly reaches