„Di queste case non è rimasto che qualche brandello di muro…“


The 20th and last episode of Stimmen aus den Schützengräben completes the trilogy dedicated to War Poetry (see episodes #6 and #11).


Georg Britting (Wikipedia)
Georg Britting (Wikipedia)


The first text was written by German soldier Georg Britting: „Neujahrsnacht im Schützengraben“: http://www.britting.de/gedichte/1-076.html


Giuseppe Ungaretti (Wikipedia)


The second poem is „S. Martino del Carso„, by Giuseppe Ungaretti (see episodes #6 and #11):

„Di queste case,

non è rimasto che

qualche brandello di muro

Di tanti che mi


non è rimasto neppure tanto.

Ma nel mio cuore,

nessuna croce manca:

è il mio cuore,

il paese più straziato.“

Portrait of the poet Siegfried Sassoon by Glyn Warren Philpot, 1917 (Wikipedia)
Portrait of the poet Siegfried Sassoon by Glyn Warren Philpot, 1917 (Wikipedia)

We already discussed British War Poets in Stimmen aus den Schützengräben  #11. The third document of this week is one more Sonet by Siegfrieed Sassoon:

Trench Duty

Shaken from sleep, and numbed and scarce awake,
Out in the trench with three hours‘ watch to take,
I blunder through the splashing mirk; and then
Hear the gruff muttering voices of the men
Crouching in cabins candle-chinked with light.
Hark! There’s the big bombardment on our right
Rumbling and bumping; and the dark’s a glare
Of flickering horror in the sectors where
We raid the Boche; men waiting, stiff and chilled,
Or crawling on their bellies through the wire.
„What? Stretcher-bearers wanted? Some one killed?“
Five minutes ago I heard a sniper fire:
Why did he do it?… Starlight overhead–
Blank stars. I’m wide-awake; and some chap’s dead.”

Most of the poems and other documents we presented during this project are against war. It must not be forgotten, however, that the conflict was often supported not only by part of the cultural and political elite, but also by many common citizens.

For some artists and poets, war and violence were an inalienable part of life and therefore of their artistic credo. A perfect exemple to clarify this point is the 9th point of the Futurist Manifesto written by Tommaso Marinetti and published in 1909 on the French newspaper Le Figaro:

„Noi vogliamo glorificare la guerra – sola igiene del mondo – il militarismo, il patriottismo, il gesto distruttore dei libertari, le belle idee per cui si muore e il disprezzo della donna.“

We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas for which to die, and contempt for woman.“.

Among the many examples of poets who used war as poetical imagery  we selected some verses by French soldier Albert-Paul Granier (Guillaume Apollinaire also did it to some extent, see episode #11). Granier became an airborne artillery observed. He was shot down and killed in action over the battlefields of Verdun on 17 August 1917, aged 29.

La guerre est dure comme une tempête,
la guerre est farouche et meurtrière,
comme l’Océan, par les nuits d’équinoxe où les vaisseaux perdus hurlent sur les écueils,
la guerre, soudain calme et dormante,
la guerre folle, sauvage et féroce,
la guerre est belle, dites, les gars,
la guerre est belle comme la mer !…

La tranchée est une vague pétrifiée,
une vague attentive et silencieuse,
bouillonnante et débordante de force.

Et, là-bas, les obus invisibles,
cataractants et foudroyants,
se heurtant aux blockhaus d’acier âpres et durs comme des brisants,
fleurissent en gerbes soudaines,
en hauts bouquets sifflants et fumants,
comme si un fabuleux raz de marée donnait du front sur la falaise.

Et, par-dessus, le ronflement des trajectoires comme le cri unanime de la mer.

Karl Bröger (Wikipedia)
Karl Bröger (Wikipedia)

We closed the episode with a poem written by German Soldier Karl Bröger. This source was kindly made available by the Brenner-Archiv (Universität Innsbruck). It is featured in: “Eberhard Sauermann (Hg.): Schützengrabengedichte. Online-Anthologie. http://www.uibk.ac.at/brenner-archiv/editionen/ged_wk1/schuetz_ged.html.”


Editing: Romana Stücklschweiger, Matteo Coletta

Voices in this episode: Hannes Hochwasser as Georg Britting, David Hubble as Sigfried Sassoon, Matteo Coletta as Giuseppe Ungaretti und Albert-Paul Granier, Matthias Falkinger as Karl Bröger.


Music: Gregoire Lourme, “Fire arrows and shields
Concept: Matteo Coletta
Voices: Hannes Hochwasser, Matteo Coletta, Roman Reischl, L.J. Ounsworth, Norbert K. Hund.

„la nuit, l’on nous emmena dans des ambulances…“


The 19th episode of Stimmen aus den Schützengräben is dedicated to wounded soldiers in WWI. It is not easy to determine their exact number, also due to the fact that many were hit more than once during the war. Statistics on casualties usually count about 10 million dead and over 20 million wounded.

Whenever possible first aid was administrated on the front line, and then soldiers were moved behind the lines, where field ospitals had been set (usually adapting buildings such as schools, churches etc.). With a few selected documents we tried to give a first impression on how wounded soldiers were cured and carried.


Australian advanced dressing station during the Third Battle of Ypres, 1917 (Imperial War Museums)


The first „guest“ of the week is German Lieutenant Ernst Jünger (1895-1998). In 1920 he published a an account of his experience on the Westfront under the title „In Stahlgewitter“ (Storm of Steel). Jünger was wounded seven times during WWI. For the episode we selected a passage of his book in which he relates his experience in a field hospital. „The field hospital was built in a school near the railway station and hosted over 400 heavily wounded soldiers (…) All the misery of war was concentrated in the big operating theater (…) hither a limb was amputated, thiter a skull was chiseled (…) A Sargeant, who had lost his leg, laid dying in the bed next to mine. In his last hour he awoke in violent shivers and let a nurse read him his favourite chapter of the Bible. Then, with barely audible voice, he asked all the comrades in the room to forgive him, because he had so often disturbed their quiet in his febrile delirium…“.
The full book is available at: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/34099/34099-h/34099-h.htm


Austrian operation room of a field hospital in Russia, 28 November 1915 (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)
Austrian operation room of a field hospital in Russia, 28 November 1915 (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek)


The second document is a passage from the book „Diario di un imboscato“ by Attilio Frescura (see episodes #2 , #3 und #14 ). In an entry dated 20 June 1916 the Italian officer wrote: „All night long the wounded have been brought down from the frontline to Campomezzavia to be taken care of. (…) The wounded soldier is put on a stretcher and carried down for hours, on a mule track where even the mules refuse to go. And the stretcher-bearers slip, stumble, fall down. And the wounded screams, with all his martyrized flesh“. Another passage of the same entry reads as follows: „He tells me that today, among the others, two wounded, one Italian and one Austrian, were taken care of and put one next to the other. The Austrian asked, in his bad Italian: „Brother, thirst…“ And the Italian apologised for not having the canteen with him, and being unable to help. He reassured the Austrian, saying that water would come soon. The new friendship was so devoted that the Austrian somehow wrapped his arms around the Italian, sighing silently. And the Italian left him like that. The Austrian seemed to fall asleep, happy to have found some kindess amid all the fighting. And he embraced that kindess, until death loosened his grip“. The full journal is available at: http://teca.bncf.firenze.sbn.it/ImageViewer/servlet/ImageViewer?idr=BNCF00004006672#page/1/mode/1up


Wounded soldiers in an hospital near Strasbourg
Wounded soldiers in an hospital near Strasbourg


The third document is an original interview with British sargeant Leonard J. Ounsworth (see episodes #1, #3, #7,#8 and #18 ). He recalls the first hours after being wounded on the Western front, when he was carried to a dressing station some miles behind the lines. Ounsworth remembers that there he saw a nurse for the first time, and that he was really embarassed when she had to undress him. The full interview is available at: http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/de/contributions/462


French soldiers carrying wounded comrades in the Argonnes, 1915
French soldiers carrying wounded comrades in the Argonnes, 1915


The last document is a passage from the memories of French cavalryman Charles Guilbert (see episode #9). After being wounded, taken prisoner by the Germans and set free by an English patrol Guilbert was taken to an house where other wounded were being taken care of. The building must have been only a few kilometers behind the lines, since an English artillery battery was firing from the courtyard. The house was shaking at every shot. During the night he was brought to an English field hospital set in a school, near Pas-de-Calais. He stayed in the hospital from the 12 until the 15 of October 1914. The full transcription of Guilbert’s memories is available at: http://ppognant.online.fr/G141802.html.



Editing: Larissa Schütz, Matteo Coletta.
Commentary: Matteo Coletta.

Voices in this episode: Norbert K. Hund as Ernst Jünger,  Matteo Coletta as Attilio Frescura and Charles Guilbert, Leonard J. Ounsworth as himself.


Music: Gregoire Lourme, “Fire arrows and shields
Concept: Matteo Coletta
Voices: Hannes Hochwasser, Matteo Coletta, Roman Reischl, L.J. Ounsworth, Norbert K. Hund.