Monday, January 31, 2005

Richard Koenigsberg: Virility and Slaughter

Richard Koenigsberg

In the First World War, 1914-1918, it is estimated that nine-million soldiers were killed, twenty-one million wounded, and nearly eight million taken prisoner or reported missing. Thus, of sixty-five million troops mobilized, nearly thirty-eight million, or fifty- eight percent were casualties. What was the meaning of this massive episode of civilizational destruction? Why were millions of young men killed or mutilated?

As one studies the battles of the First World War and learns of the prodigious number of human beings killed in each of them, the mind boggles.

What was going on? What kept the war going? Why did leaders persist in sending young men to die? Why didn't Generals alter their battle strategy when it was evident that what they were doing did not work? Why did soldiers rarely rebel against their fate? Why did they continue to fight on even though death stared them in the face?

A collection of this essay and other papers are available online

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