In the Thicket of the Forest at Artois
Adolf Hitler (1916)
Deep in the trees, on blood-soaked ground,
Lay stretched a wounded German warrior,
And his cries rang out in the night.
In vain ... no echo answered his plea ...
Will he bleed to death like a beast,
That shot in the gut dies alone?
Then suddenly ...
Two men approach his miserable
"It's your enemy!"
And both, wordless, lowered
"I know not what fate holds
The illustration that appears above is Hitler's own and accompanies the poem. In the surviving four-page manuscript he has written "based on a true event," which suggests that he is recounting a personal wartime experience. If that is the case Hitler would, of course, be the second German soldier.
In any case, the poem's thematic
culmination, wherein each soldier sees the humanity of the other ("these
sacred hours / where man found himself in man"), highlights well the truly
fratricidal character of the First World War, as well as anticipating the
even more destructive war between racial kinsmen that followed. (Irmin)