The silence of absolute death


It had been difficult enough to adjust himself to the idea that David Yates, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Germanic Languages at Coulter College, was being changed into a soldier, for reasons and purposes which he could clearly perceive, but which did not blot out his belief that war was vicious, a throwback, a degrading attempt at solutions for problems that should never have been allowed to arise.


The whole scene was immersed in the silence of absolute death

As if to support her point, the watchmaker added, “Mademoiselle Godefroy’s house was burned down completely, in an American air raid. All her clothes were destroyed.”

Yates cast a doubtful glance at his colleague from Isigny. “Of course it isn’t reasonable,” he said. “Neither is war.”

The woman’s face was stern. Yates felt that his words, well-meant as they were, had been repelled. He tried to imagine what he would feel if the buff little house back at Coulter, which he and Ruth hadn’t yet fully paid for, were bombed out and burned – his books, his desk, everything gone.

His tone was conciliatory. “It was we who destroyed your house – that wasn’t reasonable either…”

The woman looked straight at Yates…

“You imply,” said Mademoiselle Godefroy, “that I am welcoming you, and all of us are welcoming you, because now it is you who is here, and you who have the guns?”

Stefan Heym
From The Crusaders (1948)

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