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The Murder of the Élite
of war compared to the thoughts that obsess us night and day? When I am on some hill from which my view commands the plain, this is the idea which ceaselessly tortures me: down there in the valley the war rages; men who are facing one another as enemies. And up there on the hill opposite you there is, perhaps, a man who, like you, is contemplating the woods and the blue sky and perhaps ruminating the same thoughts as you, his enemy! This continual proximity might make one mad! And one is tempted to envy one's comrades who can kill time in sleeping and playing cards.December 17th. The desire for peace is intense in every one; at least, in all those who are at the front and who are obliged to assassinate and be assassinated. The newspapers say that it's hardly possible to restrain the warlike ardour of the fighters.… They lie—consciously or unconsciously. Our chaplains in their sermons dispute the legend that our military ardour is slackening.… You can hardly believe how such tittle-tattle annoys us. Let them be silent, and let them not talk about things of which they can know nothing! Or better still, let them come not as almoners who keep to the rear, but into the firing-line, rifle in hand! Perhaps then they will get to know of the inner changes which take place in so many of us. According to these chaplains, any one who is without warlike enthusiasm is not a man such as our age demands. To me it seems that we are greater heroes than the others, we, who without being upheld by warlike enthusiasm, accomplish faithfully our duty, while hating war with our whole souls.… They talk of a holy war … I know of no holy war. I only know of one war which is the sum of all that is inhuman, impious, and bestial in man; it is God's chastisement and a call to repentance for the people that throws itself into war or lets itself be drawn