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 The Pathology of the First World War/Pathology of Historians

The First World War was an extraordinary, profoundly destructive and pathological event—yet historians fail to discuss the war in these terms, pretending that the mass-murder and dismemberment of young men is “normal.”

Equally extraordinary and pathological are the interpretations of some historians. One claims that the war persisted—that men fought—because “fighting was fun.”

This is equivalent to saying that the “comfort women”—Japanese sexual slaves during the Second World War—persisted in having sexual intercourse because it was “fun.”

Of course, we don’t think of it this way—young men are expected to suffer and die. This is their job.

Perhaps Carolyn Marvin is correct when she states that we turn young men into murderers so that we can “kill them more easily.”


“Men were squashed. Cut in two or divided from top to bottom. Blown into showers; bellies turned inside out; skulls forced into the chest as if by a blow from a club.”

“You eat beside the dead; you drink beside the dead, you relieve yourself beside the dead and you sleep beside the dead.”

“I saw a man drinking avidly from a green scum-covered marsh, where lay, his black face downward in the water, a dead man lying on his stomach and swollen as if he had not stopped filling himself with water for days.”

“To die from a bullet seems to be nothing; parts of our being remain intact; but to be dismembered, torn to pieces, reduced to pulp, this is the fear that flesh cannot support and which is fundamentally the great suffering of the bombardment.”