Tuesday, May 3, 2016

War Against War!

This is the title of a photobook published by German anarchist pacifist Ernst Friedrich in 1924. During WW1 he was a teenager and joined a group of young anti-militaristic workers and was sentenced to prison after an act of sabotage in a military industry in 1917. When the war ended, he was released and continued to fight for peace and against militarism. In 1924 he had the idea of publishing a photobook  to show the atrocities and horrors of World War 1. The book includes a lot of pictures of  the consequences of the brutality and dehumanization caused by modern war. The short texts he wrote focused on explaining the lies and hypocrisy of the political and economic interests that promoted the war. His book, called in German Krieg dem Kriege! (War Against War!) was the first to include a big collection of pictures about the war and his intention was that the people discovered the real face of modern war and could have a more informed opinion about violence and militarism as "solutions" to problems between different territories. 

Here you have some of the texts he wrote on the book: 

And as we all, all human beings, equally feel joy and pain, let us fight unitedly against the common monstrous enemy, War. 

We shall unite in protesting against, in weeping over the accursed mass murders for which we all bear equal guilt. But let us also raise our eyes cheerfully to the red dawn of freedom and peace. 

This book is dedicated to all war profiteers and parasites, to all war provokers, and is consecrated also to the “kings”, generals, presidents and ministers of all lands. To the priests, however, who blessed the weapons in the name of God, this book is dedicated as a War bible! 

Show these pictures to all men who still can think!
He who then still believes in this mass butchery, let him be locked up in a madhouse, let us avoid him as we do the plague!

They lack the courage, these war-thinkers and war leaders, to go themselves into the battle, and themselves to die a sweet “heroic death”.

That is why they invented such beautiful phrases as “Fatherland” and “Field of Honour” and spoke of “defence” and uttered other lies.

The war against war signifies:
The war of the victimised against the profiteers!
The war of the deceived against the deceivers!
The war of the oppressed against the oppressors!
The war of the tortured against the torturers!
The war of the hungry against the well fed!


It is true that capital is the cause of every war.
But the guilt of war rests on our shoulders.
It is we proletarians that make the conduct of war possible; it is for us likewise to prevent wars!
Refuse to serve!
Bring up your children so that they may later refuse to render military and war service!
How very many lightly overlook the fact that in one’s own home in the family, war is being spontaneously prepared!
And here lies the beginning of all evils, here lies the beginning also of war!

The mother that sings soldier’s songs to the baby on her lap, prepares for war, yes, she prepares for war!
The father that makes gifts of toy soldiers to his child mobilises the child for the war idea!
The toy soldier is the Judas that you yourself bring into the home, is the betrayal of human life! Remember always this one thing: -
Ye parents that do not wish  that your sons should murder the dear sons of other parents, you should remember that the child whom you present with a helmet and sabre and gun, plays his tender soul to death out of his young body.
Those children, however, who are educated in love and solidarity, and are brought up to respect unconditionally the inviolable sanctity of human life, these children will most certainly be unfit for arms and war-service.

We, opponents of military service must finally destroy the halo and the humbug, and tear down the gaudy tinsel of the soldiery, and we must speak out what then still remains to be said:
a professional murderer paid by the state, who is trained in murder schools (called barracks) privileged by the state, in the carrying out of the most gruesome of crimes, the murder of human beings! That is what the children should be told!

Stronger than all violence, than the sabre and the rifle, is our spirit, is our will!
Repeat these three words: “I will not!”
Give content to these words and all wars in future will be impossible.

War Against War! became a very famous book and Friedrich received a donation, which he used to buy an old building and create an Anti-War Museum in Berlin. The museum opened in 1926. 

In 1930 Friedrich was sent to jail again due to his propaganda campaigns against militarism. When he was released the folowing year, he managed to bring his archive abroad. In 1933, when the Nazis reached power in Germany, their SA troops destroyed the Anti-War Museum and he was sent to jail again.  The museum was transformed into a Nazi meeting place and later it became a torture chamber.  

At the end of 1933 he left Germany and migrated to Belgium, where he re-opened the 2nd Anti-War Museum. 

During World War 2 Friedrich joined the French Resistance against the Nazis. When the war ended, he used the compensation received from the German government to buy a piece of land in Paris, where he created the Île de la Paix, an international center to promote peace and understanding, with the objective of hosting groups of French and German students. After Friedrich's death this center was sold and destroyed. 

In 1982 a new Anti-War Museum was opened in Berlin to remember Friedrich's work. 

Here you have some more links, if you want to learn more about Ernst Friedrich and his work for peace: 

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