Object Record

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Catalog Number 1983.120.88
Object Name Print
Accession number 1983.120
Description Print by Louis Raemaekers

Trench of dead poilu.

Information Written on Back: No. 114 / 260 white / 65 toned / Germany: 2d invasion of France within a lifetime.

Additional Information from "Raemaekers' Cartoons: With Accompanying Notes by Well-known English Writers" by Louis Raemaekers Copyright 1916 (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19126/19126-h/19126-h.htm)

NOTE: What does this cartoon suggest? I am asked and I ask myself. At first very little, almost nothing, only uninteresting, ugly death, gloomy, ghastly, dismal, but dull and largely featureless, blank and negative. Has the artist's power failed him? No, it is strongly drawn. Has his inspiration? What does it mean? Is it indeed meant? As I gaze and pore on it longer, I seem to see that it is just in this blank negation that its strength and its suggestion lie. It is meant. It has meaning. A blast has passed over this place, and this is its sequel, its derelict rubbish.

It is death unredeemed, death with no very positive suggestion, with no hint of heroism, none of heroic action, little even of heroic passion; just death, helpless, hopeless, pointing to nothing but decomposition, decay, disappearance, anéantissement, reduction of the fair frame of life to nothingness. That is the peculiar horror of this war. Were the picture, as it well might be, even more hideous, and did it suggest something more definite, a story of struggle, say, recorded in contortion, or by wounds and weapons, it might be better.

But men killed by machines, men killed by natural forces unnaturally employed, are indeed a fact and a spectacle squalid, sorry, unutterably sad.

All wars have been horrible, but modern wars are more in extremes. Heroism is there, but not always. It is possible only in patches. There is much of the mere sacrifice of numbers. Strictly, there are scenes far worse than this, for death unredeemed is not the worst of sufferings or of ills. But few are sadder. This is indeed war made by those who hold it and will it to be "not a sport, but a science." There is no sport here. Men killed like this are like men killed by plague or the eruption of a volcano. And, indeed, what else are they? They are victims of a diseased humanity of the eruption—literal and metaphorical—of its hidden fires. And wars will grow more and more like this. What can stop them and banish these scenes? Only the hate of hate, only the love that can redeem even such a sight as this when at last we remember that it is for love's sake only that flesh and blood are in the last retort content to endure it.

NOTE AUTHOR: Herbert Warren

People Raemaekers, Louis
Subjects World War 1
Political cartoons
Dead persons
Trench warfare
Artist Raemaekers, Louis
Title The Land Mine
Image size 38.1 x 25.4 cm