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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

French writers on war and peace

Victor Hugo: Selections on war

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Victor Hugo
From Memoirs
Translated by John W. Harding

December 11 (1870). – Rostan came to see me. He has his arm in a sling. He was wounded at Creteil. It was at night. A German soldier rushed at him and pierced his arm with a bayonet. Rostan retaliated with a bayonet thrust in the German’s shoulder. Both fell and rolled into a ditch. Then they became good friends. Rostan speaks a little broken German.

“Who are you?”

“I am a Wurtembergian. I am twenty-two years old. My father is a clockmaker of Leipsic.”

They remained in the ditch for three hours, bleeding, numb with cold, helping each other. Rostan, wounded, brought the man who wounded him back as a prisoner. He goes to see him at the hospital. These two men adore each other. They wanted to kill each other, and now they would die for each other.