Friday, June 01, 2007

What a torturing nation loses

From a Spanish journalist, Gomez Carillo on the front lines with French troops in 1915:
One morning a Bavarian soldier who had come out of his hole in search of some beetroot left in a field by labourers, mistook his path and wandered into the enemy's lines. The troopers caught him by the feet and brought him into the dugout of the captain of the company, who asked him:

"What are you doing here?"

"I was looking for something to eat," said the German.

"It isn't the dinner hour."

"I know, but we have had nothing for two days."

The captain ordered a sumptuous meal for him: meat, eggs, sardines, cheese, coffee, cognac, and even a penny cigar. When the feast was finished, the captain cried:

"And now be off, we have had enough of you."

"Oh! " said the poor fellow, thinking of the abundant menu of the French trenches, "I consider myself your prisoner."

"No, no, we can't be bothered with one single Boche. Be off. Later on, if we catch you with all your companions, we will keep you. We have enough provisions here for a regiment. Good-bye!"

At nightfall twenty soldiers to whom the honest Bavarian had described his adventure, came over and gave themselves up in the trench of the sardines and cheese. As a recompense they were given a splendid dish of fried potatoes. "Fried potatoes," said Ch—, "are our favourite dish, and the cook is esteemed or detested according as he prepares them well or ill. When we see him coming along there from the south with his saucepans, the first thing we ask is whether he has brought us our favourite dish. The worst of it is that generally he won't take the trouble to cook them to a turn, and so when they get here they are uneatable. Only yesterday we held a court-martial on the cook of our trench, and we condemned him to be degraded for not doing potatoes properly. If they are not good to-day we will condemn him to death."

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