'What's the point of taking prisoners? They all ought to be shot. No mercy. Dance among the corpses. All the civilians of Serbia should be burnt to a man and the children finished off with the bayonet...'
'Preparations for the slaughter of mankind have always been made in the name of God or some supposed higher being which men have devised and created in their own imagination.
Before the ancient Phoenicians cut a prisoner's throat they also performed religious ceremonies just as solemnly as did new generation some thousand years later before marching to war and destroying their enemies with fire and sword.
The cannibals of the Guinea Islands and Polynesia sacrifice to their gods and perform the most diverse religious rites before ceremoniously devouring their captives or unnecessary people like missionaries, travellers, agents of various business firms or persons who are just inquisitive. As the cultural vestments have not yet reached them they decorate the outsides of their thighs with bunches of gaudy feathers of forest birds.
Before the Holy Inquisiton burnt its victims, it performed the most solemn religious service - a High Mass with singing.
When criminals are executed, priests always officiate, molesting the delinquents with their presence.
In Prussia the unfortunate victim was led to the block by a pastor, in Austria to the gallows by a Catholic priest, in France to the guillotine, in America to the electric chair by a clergyman and in Spain to a chair where he was strangled by an ingenious appliance. In Russia the revolutionary was taken off by a bearded Orthodox priest etc.
Everywhere on these occasions they used to march about with a crucifix Christ figure, as if to say: 'They're only cutting your head off, they're only hanging you, strangling you, putting fifteen thousand volts into you, but think what that chap there had to go through.'
The great shambles of the world war did not take place without the blessing of priests. Chaplains of all armies prayed and celebrated drumhead masses for victory for the side whose bread they ate.
Throughout all Europe people went to the slaughter like cattle, driven there not only by butcher emperors, kings and other potentates and generals, but also by priests of all confessions, who blessed them and made them perjure themselves that they would destroy the enemy on land, in the air, on the sea etc.
Drumhead masses were generally celebrated twice: once when a detachment left for the front, and once more at the front on the eve of some bloody massacre and carnage. I remember that once when a drumhead mass was being celebrated an enemy airplane dropped a bomb on us and hit the field altar. There was nothing left of the chaplain except some bloodstained rags.
Afterwards they wrote about him as a martyr, while our airplanes prepared the same kind of glory for the chaplain on the other side.
We had a great deal of fun out of this, and on the provisional cross, at the spot where they burried the remains of the chaplain, there appeared overnight this epitaph:
What may hit us has now hit you.
You always said we'd join the saints.
Well, now you've caught it at Holy Mass.
And where you stood are only stains.'
...So runs the story of the Good Soldier Svejk, written shortly after World War I by the Czech humorist Jaroslav Hasek. It is a classic story of the 'little man' fighting officialdom and bureaucracy with the only weapons available to him - passive resistance, subterfuge, native wit and dumb insolence. Entangled in red tape, pushed around by police, doctors, clergy and officers, and ever obliging, the good soldier (once discharged as a certified idiot) proceeds toward the crowning achievement of his military carreer -- to be captured by his own troops.
'Only two days remained before Svejk would have to appear before the draft board.
During this time Svejk made the necessary preparations. First he sent Mrs. Müller to buy an army cap and next he sent her to borrow the wheelchair from the confectioner around the corner - that same one in which the confectioner used to wheel around in the fresh air his lame and wicked old grandfather. Then he remembered he needed crutches. Fortunately the confectioner still kept the cruthches too as a family relic of his old grandfather.
Now he only needed the recruit's bunch of flowers for his buttonhole. Mrs. Müller got those for him too. During these last two days she got noticeably thinner and wept from morning to night.
And so on that memorable day there appeared on the Prague streets a moving example of loyalty. An old woman pushing before her a wheelchair, in which there sat a man in an army cap with a finely polished Imperial badge and waiving his crutches. And in his buttonhole shone the fresh flowers of a recruit.
And this man, waving his crutches again and again, shouted out to the streets of Prague: 'To Belgrade, to Belgrade!'
He was followed by a crowd of people which steadily grew from the small group that had gathered in front of the house from which he had gone out to war.
Svejk could see that the policemen standing at some of the crossroads saluted him.
At Wenceslas Square the crowd around Svejk's wheelchair had grown by several hundred and at the corner of Krakovska Street they beat up a student in a German cap who had shouted out to Svejk: 'Yes! Down with the Serbs!'
At the corner of Vodickova Street mounted police rode in and dispersed the crowd.
When Svejk showed the district police inspector that he had it in black and white that he must that day appear before the draft board, the latter was a trifle disappointed; and in order to reduce the disturbances to a minimum he had Svejk and his wheelchair escorted by two mounted police all the way to the Sharpshooters' Island.
The following article about this episode appeared in the Prague News:
Yesterday afternoon the passers-by in the main streets of Prague were witnesses of a scene which was an eloquent testimony to the fact that in these great and solemn hours the sons of our nation can furnish the finest examples of loyalty and devotion to the throne of the aged monarch. We might well have been back in the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans, when Mucius Scaevola had himself led off to battle, regardless of his burnt arm. The most sacred feelings and sympathies were nobly demonstrated yesterday by a cripple on crutches who was pushed in an invalid chair by his aged mother. This son of the Czech people, spontaneously and regardless of his infirmity, had himself driven off to war to sacrifice his life and possessions for his emperor. And if his call: 'To Belgrade!' found such a lively echo on the streets of Prague, it only goes to prove what model examples of love for the fatherland and the Imperial House are proffered by the people of Prague.'
The above is an offering of food for thought to men and women, and especially to the young generation of Europeans and Americans, reminding them of the horrors that humanity had to suffer in World Wars I and II.
The out-of-all proportion attack on the people of Serbia is truly tragic, and one can only hope that this latest war in Europe will not turn into World War III.
May the young people across Europe join the growing demonstrations against this insanity.
May they clearly tell these would-be butcher emperores -- Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kanzlers and the assorted generals that this time they will not allow these manipulators to send them to be slaughtered like they did to their great-grandfathers, grandfathers, and fathers in World Wars I and II.
March 27, 1999
The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek
Primer for Those Who Would Govern, by Hermann Oberth
Eumeswil, by Ernst Jünger
Rigadoon, by Louis Ferdinand Celine
North, by Louis Ferdinand Celine
Lost Lhasa, by Heinrich Harrer
The Expulsion in Europe - A timely reminder
The Genocide by China in Tibet - Interview with brother of the Dalai Lama
Mahatma Gandhi - The Pursuit of Truthfullness and Non-violence