preservation and the call of duty. And I had to go through that conflict too. As Death sought its prey everywhere and unrelentingly a nameless Something rebelled within the weak body and tried to introduce itself under the name of Common Sense; but in reality it was Fear, which had taken on this cloak in order to impose itself on the individual. But the more the voice which advised prudence increased its efforts and the more clear and persuasive became its appeal, resistance became all the stronger; until finally the internal strife was over and the call of duty was triumphant. Already in the winter of 1915-16 I had come through that inner struggle. The will had asserted its incontestable mastery. Whereas in the early days I went into the fight with a cheer and a laugh, I was now habitually calm and resolute. And that frame of mind endured. Fate might now put me through the final test without my nerves or reason giving way. The young volunteer had become an old soldier.
This same transformation took place throughout the whole army. Constant fighting had aged and toughened it and hardened it, so that it stood firm and dauntless against every assault.
Only now was it possible to judge that army. After two and three years of continuous fighting, having been thrown into one battle after another, standing up stoutly against superior numbers and superior armament, suffering hunger and privation, the time had come when one could assess the value of that singular fighting force.
For a thousand years to come nobody will dare to speak of heroism without recalling the German Army of the World War. And then from the dim past will emerge the immortal vision of those solid ranks of steel helmets that never flinched and never faltered. And as long as Germans live they will be proud to remember that these men were the sons of their forefathers.
I was then a soldier and did not wish to meddle in politics, all the more so because the time was inopportune. I still believe that the most modest stable-boy of those days served his country better than the best of, let us say, the 'parliamentary deputies'. My hatred for those footlers was never greater than in those days when all decent men who had anything to say said it point-blank in the enemy's face; or, failing this, kept their mouths shut and did their duty elsewhere. I despised those political fellows and if I had had my way I would have formed them into a Labour Battalion and given them the opportunity of babbling amongst themselves to their hearts' content, without offence or harm to decent people.
In those days I cared nothing for politics; but I could not help forming an opinion on certain manifestations which affected not only the whole nation but also us soldiers in particular. There were two things which caused me the greatest anxiety at that time and which I had come to regard as detrimental to our interests.
Shortly after our first series of victories a certain section of the Press already began to throw cold water, drip by drip, on the enthusiasm of the public. At first this was not obvious to many people. It was done under the mask of good intentions and a spirit of anxious care. The public was told that big celebrations of victories were somewhat out of place and were not worthy expressions of the spirit of a great nation. The fortitude and valour of German soldiers were accepted facts which did not necessarily call for outbursts of celebration. Furthermore, it was asked, what would foreign opinion have to say about these manifestations? Would not foreign opinion react more favourably to a quiet and sober form of celebration rather than to all this wild jubilation? Surely the time had come--so the Press declared--for us Germans to remember that this war was not our work and that hence there need be no feeling of shame in declaring our willingness to do our share towards effecting an understanding among the nations. For this reason it would not be wise to sully the radiant deeds of our army with unbecoming jubilation; for the rest of the world would never understand this. Furthermore, nothing is more appreciated than the modesty with which a true hero quietly and unassumingly carries on and forgets. Such was the gist of their warning.
Instead of catching these fellows by their long ears and dragging them to some