Adonis Diaries

Archive for October 4th, 2009

Four Generals trapped; (October 4, 2009)


            The German army failed to capture Stalingrad and the Soviet army has encircled it.  The Fuhrer Hitler decided to supply his army by air; by then the German army could no longer retreat.  The Fuhrer ordered his army “never to surrender”.

            Now you have four Generals trapped in a hut during Russia’s winter; they have not eaten for two days and didn’t sleep for three night.  The highest ranked among the Generals is the German Leopold Reims,  another German General Von Augenstrahl, the Austrian General Kowalka, , and the Italian General Capognoni. There is no gunfire; just strong wind sweeping the flat desolate land covered with snow and dead bodies of man and animals.

            “I give it another ten minutes,” growled Reims in a weak voice “and then I will take my life.”  Kowalka replied: “Why wait ten minutes?”  Reims threw him a look of disdain.  Capognoni had three Turkish flat cigarettes left and offered one to Reims who was fumbling in his empty packet of Overstolz cigarettes. Reims said: “I don’t smoke”. Capognoni hatred for Reims was too deep to linger on this last stung. Kowalka accepted one with pleasure.

            General Von Augenstrahl said: “Suicide is the ultimate form of cowardice.”  Reims shouted feebly: “It is the height of honor” Von Augenstrahl retorted: “By killing yourself, you are doing the work of the enemy. For one thing, you are wasting a bullet to be used in battle”. Reims snapped: “Our orders specifically forbid us to fall into enemy hands.” Von Augenstrahl could no longer control his nerves and said: “Our orders were given by a crackpot Austrian corporal residing in Berlin.” Kowalka laughed: “Our friend in Berlin was a corporal in the German army. Had he stayed in his homeland of Austria he would have remained a private.”

            After a short silence Kowalka broke it: “Hey, General Capognoni, we fought the only civilized wars. At Caporetto you ran away, at Vittorio Veneto it was our turn.  It was all done as gentlemen should do it. At the first sign of an advance, the other side retreated.  There was none of this nonsense of both sides trying to advance at the same time.” Capognoni flushed and retorted: “Wars are to be won, and every effort should be made to win them.” Reims butt in: “It is well known that Italian strategy leads in only one direction, backwards!” Capognoni replied: “The German strategy is to leave the dirty work to their allies. It is in the greatest tradition of the German Army: it is to fight with the Italian soldiers every where the Italian army was present such as in Libya and Greece.”


            Reims said around noon: “I have decided that if by noon no relief arrives then I will end it in honor. The order is not to fall in enemy hands. To insure this, with the exception of General Capognoni, I order you all to take your own lives in an honorable way.  Are there any question?” Von Augenstrahl, a Catholic, reiterated his answer: “I will not waste my breath. I cannot obey orders which are against the dictates of my conscience and of common sense.”  “You are under arrest” snapped Reims.  Kowakli laughed: “Is there no end to absurdity?” Kowakli left the hut in search of any Soviet soldier to surrender. “I am staying here,” said Capognoni. “As a Roman, it amuses me to see how the barbarians prepare for the end.”


            Reims needed help to insert the bullet in his revolver. When he was ready Von Augenstrahl stepped outside the hut. Capognoni is day dreaming of the good life he had prior to joining the Russian front amid the blood in the hut; he had all the right connections not to join the army to the Russian front; and then he heard a shot outside. The Italian army did not fight well on this front, nor had he. His temperament was too volatile for battles of attrition; for battles when reason declared to be lost from the outset. It was no proof of courage voluntarily to disobey your own intelligence. It was not as you are driving a racing car with a public gallery to play to. The Italian could coax his less performing race car than the German one and win by humanizing the inanimate. That was courage.

            After a while a Russian young soldier entered hesitantly and then rushed out to call on his Lieutenant. “Lei parla italiano?” asked Capognoni. “Raus” shouted the Soviet Lieutenant. “Parlez-vous Francais?” asked Capognoni, “I refuse to surrender. We are still at war”.  The Russian replied with a smile: “What do you want to do about it?” Capognoni faked to shoot at the Russian who was stumbling to remove his revolver and then the Russian shot Capognoni.  The Lieutenant was utterly angry and cried: “What did you do that for?” Capognoni said before dying: “You tell them that the Italian Army was the last to cease resistance on this front”.  The Russian retorted: “Crackpot! Who the hell cares; so long as we are winning!” Capognoni had a witness to his courage and that was the ultimate in aftertaste: an applauding gallery.



Note: This topic was taken from “The Aftertaste””; it is a short story of the book “Add a dash of pity” by Peter Ustinov.

Very happy I am; very lucky, indeed!  

Note:  This article is extracted from the epilogue of “Thus Spoken the Killer” by Nasri Sayegh; the epilogue is entitled “Fuck it”


Very happy the individual who emerges from a civil war with a simple insult on barricades; who received just a slap, a box, or a vengeful wait on barricades.


Very happy who escaped a civil war and was robbed a bundle of bread or his car trunk was vandalized.


Very happy whose wife’s body was just checked by fretful fingers, who was threatened to be beaten but was spared a beating, or by death or by kidnapping but these threats never materialized.


Very happy who was warned to vacate his house and obeyed gladly.  Very happy who was just fired from a job on confessional basis but survived a civil war.


Terribly lucky that you were kidnapped or made prisoner and returned safe and sound to your family.


Terribly lucky that you were estimated of any value for prisoner exchange, or because you were utterly worthless to waste a bullet in your head.


Terribly lucky that a bomb went off or a car explosion spared you of shrapnel.

Awfully lucky that you kept your property intact by bribing the appropriate leader.

Awfully lucky that only one of the members of your family was injured.


How lucky you were that a family lived in your vacated property and kept it decently maintained.


How lucky that you were out with your family when a missile hit your home.


How lucky that you found someone to whisk you out of a dangerous zone or you were a foreign national and were shipped out safely with your compatriots in identity paper.


You should have been grateful that you were allowed to be handed the body of a relative and that you managed to give him a proper burial.


How courageous you were when you demanded to know the name of the killer.


You must have been one of the rare courageous men to have just asked that you personal rights for freedom be respected, that embezzlements by militias are not part of human rights.


Thank your God that you escaped alive with an intact passport and a current visa, or valuable document to your properties, of cherished photos and souvenirs of those who died to safeguard “freedom, honor, and self autonomy”.


You have to be thankful a thousand times that you survived to re-experience another civil was as a meek sheep.


(Fuck it all; there are no grounds to be happy or thankful to have survived a civil war where no party even won the war!  With no winner there is no renewal)




October 2009

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