Sunday, 8 July 2007

Ernst Friedrich's War against War

Friedrich, founder of the Berlin Peace Museum, and author of the pacifist tract, War against War, proves as relevant today as in the original context of publication circa World War I. Today's availability of footage shot by soldiers and embedded reporters on sites such as youtube and ogrish should not be enough in itself to make us lose sight of Friedrich's long term value as residing in the factors identified by Walter Benjamin:

With the (First) World War a process began to become apparent that has not halted since then. Was it not noticeable that men returned from the battlefield grown silent- not richer, but poorer in communicable experience? ...For never has experience been contradicted more thoroughly than strategic experience by tactical warfare, economic experience by inflation, bodily experience by mechanical warfare, moral experience by those in power. A generation that had gone to school on a horse-drawn streetcar now stood under the open sky in a countryside in which nothing remained unchanged but the clouds, and beneath those clouds, in a field of force of destructive torrents and explosions, was the tiny, fragile, human body (The Storyteller: Reflections on the Work of Nikolai Leskov)

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