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September 28, 2022, 02:11:34 PM
686002 Posts in 51883 Topics by 7299 Members
Latest Member: Frankvut Forum  |  Other Topics  |  Off Topic Discussion  |  Alex's even longer post thread. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Alex's even longer post thread.  (Read 102026 times)
B-Movie Kraken

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The sleep of reasoner breeds monsters. (sic)

« Reply #660 on: Today at 11:59:11 AM »

When I think of soldiers who were hard-core killers, I think of the Germans behind the machine guns at the Somme. By some accounts twenty thousand British were killed in the first hour, (and Haig kept sending more and more on to their deaths even knowing what was happening, sure his plan could not fail). Whether it represents their true feelings or not, the accounts we have are of those German gunners expressing glee at the slaughter they undertook that terrible July day, not screaming horror. Yes, the British were advancing on them, at a plodding pace, mostly, yes the Germans had just been shelled for a week, yes, it was war, but to mow down lines of men who just kept walking into death, some wincing and shielding their faces like they were out in rain, that has always struck me as the epitome of....? Well, I don't know how to finish that. Of being good soldiers? Of being inhumane? Of the less celebrated hemisphere of human nature nakedly revealed? Or maybe almost anyone could and would have done it too, a sort of Milgram experiment writ large.

If ever you get a chance to visit the Somme battlefields, go. It changes your perspective on life immeasurably by showing either how precious or how cheap it truly is.

There are a whole load of factors that could come into play there. One, Germany prior to the Great War was a highly militarised society. Boys were encouraged to play with military-based toys and games growing up (in effect prepping them to kill), but two, I'd also look into who wrote those accounts. British newspapers for example were infamous for printing lurid stories of atrocities the hun had committed, just making up stories (most likely with the encouragement of the government) to increase war fever. The Somme was 2 years into the war. By that point, I can well imagine your connection to what is normal has broken down and the kill ratio goes down. Just because you are not able to kill someone at the start of the war, doesn't mean that won't change. Interestingly, I've never seen a study on how that would go during a longer or more brutal war. My guess is that a lot of people sooner or later are going to get over their more civilised notions about not killing, but I am guessing here. Maybe you eventually either break down with shell shock or go feral? The final factor is yeah, you do get the ones who just plain enjoy killing or feel no emotion over it. I find the former more worrisome than the latter.

As it has been explained to me, a good rule of thumb is that half of all bullets that find targets in war are fired by about ten-percent of the total number of combat soldiers, which has sounded both incredible and realistic at the same time.
« Last Edit: Today at 01:52:59 PM by ER » Logged

What does not kill me makes me stranger.
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