Thu, 9 Sep 2004

Four Weeks in the Trenches: the War Story of a Violinist

— SjG @ 4:50 pm

Fritz Kreisler, 1915, read as an e-book from

This is a curiosity. A very patriotic little text on the horrors of the Eastern Front in World War I, written by a violinist who went on to compose famous works.
It is clear that Kreisler wanted to express the glory of the battle as a good patriot. The short text is filled with the kinds of things attacked by many other survivors of the war like Wilfred Owen and Reiner Maria; how bold and noble and glorious are the soldiers and the officers. Yet, Kreisler is also clearly horrified by what he has seen, by the slaughter and waste. He spends a lot of time trying to put a good light on events. He focuses on the camaraderie between the soldiers, even with their enemies, and on the positive things that the life of a soldier brings to a man. He obviously wants to write a patriotic text, and yet we can’t avoid seeing the negatives, the pointless battles, the waste of life, the privation, and the suffering. With the added benefit of historical hindsight, this probably reads quite differently than he intended. His closing words, about being proud to have given a contribution, no matter how small, to the glory of the homeland seem a tragic joke today.

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