THE "CREEPING BARRAGE" OF THE BRITISH ARTILLERY AT THE SOMME awoke Freddie's older self early one morning on July 1, 1916. This Princess von Anhalt, the one of 19 years, had lived with the German infantry troops during the many days of nonstop shelling begun much earlier on June 24. She did not have to endure it. She chose to do so, to know the unspeakable horrors and catastrophe that Paganini spoke of, and thereby finally understand his fanatical aversion to the world wars of the 20th century.
    Were they as terrible and pointless as he depicted?
    The answer was yes, a thousand times, and a thousand times more, far more terrible and pointless than could ever be dreamed. Tens of millions dead, and even after just one hour of head-bursting explosions quivering the earth, she realized, as she squatted in a stuffy and dark concrete bunker with a small group of terrified men, that all her magic and wisdom acquired to this point in her life had not prepared her. All her struggles with dark forces, face to face, like flea bites compared to the roaring black plague of World War I in Europe.

No comments:

Post a Comment