Thoughts from the Russian Front...

August 9, 1942
A week ago today we were in Vyaz’ma, I managed a visit to the Russian church there. The service differed from those familiar to the prosaic Central Europeans like us. I entered the spacious hall…. The hearts of all believers vibrated in unison. One could sense the stirring, the outpouring of souls unfolding after a long and terrible silence, souls that had at last found their way back to their true home. I could have wept for joy, because my heart, too, was loosing its bonds one by one. I wanted to love and laugh because I could see that hovering above these defeated people was an angel stronger than the powers of nothingness. Spiritual nihilism was a major threat to European civilization, but as soon as it underwent its ultimate development in the total war to which we have finally succumbed, and as soon as it veiled the mighty sky like a sea of grey cloud, it was vanquished. Nothing comes after nothing, yet something must come because all values can never be destroyed among all men. There still exists custodians who will kindle the flame and pass it from hand to hand until a new wave of rebirth inundates the land. The veil of cloud is rent asunder, as it were, by the sunlight of a new religious awakening….
I left the church and emerged into the harsh light of day. The sky was overcast, a light drizzle was coming down, and the roads had been transformed unto bottomless slush. Shellfire rumbled in the distance.
— -Hans Scholl, "At the Heart of the White Rose Society: Hans and Sophie Scholl". Harper and Row, 1984. p. 224-225

War takes the brilliant ones. She pulls the ultimate heist in taking them from society. She forces them into her servitude and they rebel. Yet, I wonder, does she take them? Or does she make them? Perhaps, she is the fire that causes the pine cone to open and the seed to fall to the ground. During war, valor is lifted up in the same hand with deceit. In war, truth seems lost behind propagated lies. Yet, if we lean in and gaze at her deeds, does not truth seem brighter? The deceit of rulers may live on in infamy-but the light of truth grabs the soul and begs men to follow. They must have met her before. She must have caught their eye in a time past. For how could they recognize her know, in tattered rags, shaved head, and starving flesh? Her innocence was taken and tarnished. Yet, those who knew her, they saw that light in her eyes. The light of an imperishable soul. Maybe he hadn’t known her before the war. Maybe he heard her song, flowing on the wind, across the Rhine and over theaters and shell torn valleys and he listened. Truth’s intoxicating song pulled him from despair and he saw the hell he was in. Suddenly, men saw truth and her love in trampled souls and down-turned eyes.

For during war, truth may seem to hide. During battle her star may leave the sky. Yet, in those whose brilliance, though seemingly lost, she shines within, truth finds a home. War takes the brilliant ones to hell and back and leaves us with their belongings, journals, and tormented thoughts. We walk the Russian front and hear of the beauty in the midst of hell. 

Cody LittauComment