Tuesday, 16 September 2008

In the Old and Canny Manner of Peasant-Lore

“I tip-toed my way through the ranks of men gathered for induction into the Volkssturm and installed myself meekly at the rear. My gaze swept along the row: there they stood, the old peasants of the neighbourhood, prematurely worn out by work, weather-beaten and hunched figures. They had raised their right hands, and, in harsh and throaty voices, were repeating the words of the oath. And their left hands — really and truly, this one and that one, here and there, all along the row, each left hand was hanging down with the oath-fingers pointing to the ground — they were dispelling the oath in the old and canny manner of peasant lore. — Oh, peasants! It was as simple as that!”

[“[I]ch ging auf den Zehenspitzen die Glieder der angetretenen Volkssturmleute entlang und baute mich bescheiden hinter der letzten Reihe auf. Mein Blick schweifte diese Reihe entlang: da standen sie, die alten Bauern der Umgebung, von der schweren Arbeit vorzeitig zermürbt, verwitterte und gekrümmte Gestalten, sie hatten die rechte Hand erhoben und sprachen mit rauhen und kehligen Lauten die Eidesformel nach. Und die linke Hand, — wahrhaftig, da und da und dort, hier und hier und die ganze Reihe entlang immer wieder, da hing die linke Hand herunter, und die Schwurfinger der linken Hand, sie wiesen alle zu Boden, — sie leiteten ab, sie leiteten den Eid ab, nach einer alten, pfiffigen Bauernregel. — Oh, Bauern, Bauern! So einfach war das also!”]

Ernst von Salomon, Der Fragebogen (Hamburg: Rowohlt Verlag, 1951), p.411.

3 comments:

James Higham said...

The words 'old peasants' are amusing here, as the age limit for the Volkssturm was 60. Perhaps peasants wear out more easily.

F W Heinz said...

They certainly look old in the photos - premature aging due to being Great War veterans perhaps (truly a monstrous injustice to throw these men back into the cauldron again in late middle age after their youth was wasted in the first round).

More von Salomon please - reprints in English are long overdue.

Deogolwulf said...

Shall do.