Essay on The Horrors Of Trench Warfare

Essay on The Horrors Of Trench Warfare

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By late autumn of 1914, the western front had become the main battle ground splitting Europe in half extending from France to Belgium. This is the view that many soldiers like Franz Franke had seen until it became their eventual resting place. Franz Franke was a, “medical student from Berlin,” (Lualdi, 227) whose letter written in the first months of battle discusses the horrors of trench warfare as a, “living hell of shells and corpses,” (Lauldi, 227). The defining feature of the first world war in the West was this prison of immobility and stalemate. The ground he wrote about in early November would call back his body only a few months later in May of the next year. As citizens of the Western world and on the side of the triple entente, it can be hard to view the perspective of a soldier on the other side, much less the widely hated Germans who fought in the war. Yet when Franz begins his letter with the sentence, “Yesterday we didn’t feel sure that a single one of us would come through alive” (Lauldi, 227) only sympathy should fill the heart. Unable to “possibly picture yourselves” (Lauldi, 227) on the battle field Franz begins to describe to the best of his ability. With a day of battle behind those on the front lines he had never seen such “bestial barbarity” nor the possibility of such “unspeakable suffering” (Lauldi, 227). The ground refused the beating it was receiving from man-kind’s trenches, and bodies could be counted in rows. The trees that had once filled the landscape were “shot to pieces” (Lauldi, 227) and the land below was churned to surface by shells. Shell fire leaving the stench of death and buildings unable to serve their purpose again. And amid this desolate battle ground the support troops advance a mile t...


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... on the move Franz describes their movements to be single file lines that give no indication as to where the destination could be or only revealing a direction for half a day. As a conclusion for the letter and an attempt to keep some form of positivity he begins to note positive aspects of his time on the Front. That during times of beautiful weather the company often goes to explore the country side and acquire knowledge of human nature. As young men, they take pleasure in living “naturally and unconventionally here…every one according to his own instincts,” (Lauldi, 227). Finally ending his letter with the sentence with a phrase that can summarize the morale of the war, “That brings much that is good and much that is ugly to the surface, but in every one there is a large amount of truth, and above all strength – strength developed almost to a mania!” (Lauldi, 227).

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