Friday, 30 November 2018

Letters of Insurgents - Yarostan's Third Letter


Yarostan’s third letter

Dear Sophia,
Your letter was comradely and. I’ll try to answer in the same spirit. But I don’t agree with you. You make the statement: “Our project was not to excommunicate but to communicate.” This is a bad joke. I’ll try to show you that our project was to excommunicate, not to communicate. 

I read your letter several times. Mirna read it. She’s still convinced you’re the ogre who caused my arrest but she now considers you a rather pleasant ogre. She even expressed a desire to get together with you and Sabina if circumstances should ever allow such a meeting. But she thought the passages where you glorify your past experience must have been taken from the speeches of our politicians.
Mirna and I were stunned to learn certain facts from your letter. I was amazed to learn that George Alberts had not been arrested at the time when you. Luisa, I and the rest of us were arrested. I also think it curious that you and Luisa were released after spending only two days in jail; I spent four years there and as far as I know very few of us were sentenced to terms shorter than that.
The reason I was amazed Alberts hadn’t been arrested is because I had always thought he’d been arrested before any of the rest of us. I had thought Claude’s suspicion of him a part of an official campaign designed to prepare Alberts’ friends and acquaintances for his arrest. Such campaigns to stigmatize an individual as a suspicious character normally originated high up in the political hierarchy and were passed down to susceptible people like Claude. An instruction was thus transformed into a widely circulated rumor, the rumor gradually became a widely held certainty, and in time all the victim’s friends acquiesced in his temporary or permanent liquidation, frequently feeling relieved to be rid of such a dangerous acquaintance. The fact that Alberts wasn’t arrested suggests that the suspicion was not an instruction from the top but originated with Claude. Since Claude had never had personal contact with Alberts he must have been pointing his finger at Luisa or else at Titus Zabran or me, since we were Luisa’s closest friends and therefore by extension Alberts’ friends. Claude’s act must have been a classical political move: he was incriminating one or all three of us in order to establish his power over the rest. His success against us would be a permanent threat he could hold over the others and his position as gang leader would be assured by his power to eliminate real or potential opponents. This wouldn’t mean that Claude Tamnich was any less of a gorilla than I had remembered him to be but it would mean that he was considerably more intelligent.
Another reason I’m amazed to learn that Alberts wasn’t arrested is because this conflicts with an event you mentioned in your first letter, namely with the fact that he was fired from his job. I had known about his expulsion at the time and had assumed this had been the first step toward his arrest and imprisonment. I had assumed he had been arrested for exactly the same reason we were. I had thought his firing had been something like a forecast of our arrest; he was accused of sabotage, of being a foreign agent and of representing a danger to society’s productive forces. I know he wasn’t the cause of our arrest but I was sure he had been arrested. Are you sure about this? I’m not asking to catch you in another slip of memory but to clarify my understanding. Since Titus Zabran as well as Luisa had long been his comrades I had assumed his activity had been similar to Luisa’s, at least before he emigrated, and that consequently he had been arrested for the same reason. 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Letters of Insurgents - Sophia's Second Letter


Sophia’s second letter

Dear Yarostan,
Your letter was cruel. You were obviously aware of that. It doesn’t call for an answer. It’s the last word. Victims don’t share their experiences with their executioners. That’s clear. Why should they? Since you’ve defined me that way, I’m surprised your letter was so long! Why didn’t you communicate exactly the same message by not answering me at all? Why did you feel you owed an explanation to that type of person? 

You can’t possibly imagine what a sad experience your second letter was for me. If you can then you’re even crueller than your letter. For countless years I dreamed of finding you, of sharing a project with you once again, of telling you what I’d experienced since I was with you, of comparing it with what you experienced; if I failed to see you again I hoped I’d at least reach you with one after another letter, each crossing at least one of yours, each as long and full of detail as your last letter. That dream was starting to come true; at least one of the longings of my life was being fulfilled. But I never dreamed I’d get a letter from you with that content, a letter which so cruelly ended the correspondence when it had barely begun. 

I can’t say I never dreamed of such a content. I did in fact dream of it — in a nightmare. It was my greatest fear. It did pass through my mind that the long separation and the different experiences would create a wall between us, that we would no longer have anything to say to each other, that we would be merely polite, cold and strange to each other. But not even in a nightmare did I dream that you’d ever see me as your enemy! 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Letters of Insurgents - Yarostan's Second Letter


Yarostan’s second letter

Dear Sophia,
My picture of you was hazy when I wrote you last time but now I remember you as if I had been with you only yesterday. No one who had known you twenty years ago could fail to recognize you. You wrote me a warm, comradely letter. I’d like to answer in the same spirit. I’d like at least to be polite. But twenty years have passed. Everyone around me has changed. Your picture of yourself as you are today is disturbingly similar to the person you thought you were twenty years ago. What I recognize in your letter is not the event we experienced together but an event we never experienced. I wrote to a living person and was answered by an imaginary person celebrating an event that never took place.
I admit that I once shared the illusion your letter celebrates. Twenty years ago you and I were like children who saw a group of people digging in a field and ran to join them. They were chanting. We misunderstood the chant; we failed to hear the suffering and resignation. We thought they were singing out of joy. We found spades and dug with them. We sang more loudly than the rest until one of them turned to us and asked, “Don’t you know what you’re doing?” Sophia, don’t you remember that terrified face wrinkled with pain? “Look over there,” he said, pointing toward rifles aimed at the group. We had joined a group of prisoners sentenced to die; we were helping them dig the mass grave into which they were to be thrown after they were shot. How can you have retained only the memory of the moment when we joyfully sang alongside them? Is it possible that after twenty years you still don’t know what we helped them do? 

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Letters of Insurgents - Sophia's First Letter

Sophia’s first letter
Dear Yarostan, 

What a marvelous surprise! Surely you remember Luisa. She was all excited when she came with your letter last night. Sabina and Tina, my house-mates, were both home. Luisa hadn’t ever been in our house before. We spent the evening and most of the night reading and rereading your letter, reliving our past for Tina’s sake, discussing events we’ve never discussed before. We were all amazed to learn how many years you’d spent in prison and we were deeply moved by the contrast between your beautiful letter and the miserable life you’ve led. 

Luisa and I travelled twenty years backward in time, reconstructing the world of experience we shared with you. I still regard that experience as the key to my whole life. Luisa had lived through such significant events before, but for me the days I spent with you have always been unique.
As soon as she read your letter Tina asked who you were and if all three of us had known you. I started to tell her about that vast uprising we had all taken part in. “Yes, we were together — not just the four of us, but thousands of us,” I told Tina. “Those events released a surge of contentment, enthusiasm and initiative throughout the whole working population. At last we were going to run our own affairs, at last the people were masters, nobody would be able to exploit our efforts for their own ends, nobody would be able to deceive us, sell us to our enemies, betray us.”
“If that’s what happened, then why in the world did you leave, and why did Yarostan spend half his life in jail?” Tina asked. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

Letters of Insurgents - Yarostan's First Letter

Letters of Insurgents is one of those novels that never made it big but virtually all the people who have read it declare it to be important and amazing. Looking for information I've come across a dozen or so reviews and positive comments, all positive.

It's obscurity was partly a result of it being out of print for many years but small booksellers have started republishing it, here's Left Bank Books notice

Left Bank Books is republishing Fredy Perlman's classic novel Letters of Insurgents. Originally published by Black and Red in 1976, and out of print for several years, this epistolary novel tells the story of two individuals living on distant continents resume contact through correspondence. They describe meaningful events and relationships in their lives during the twenty years since their youthful liaison, comparing the choices each took. Yarostan lives in a "workers' republic"; Sophia in a "Western democracy." They both make efforts to lead meaningful lives. Along the way, they encounter bureaucrats, idealists, racists, flaunters of social convention, labor militants, professors, jailors, hucksters and more. In important respects, Sophia's biography parallels that of Fredy Perlman.
Left Bank Books is a not-for-profit project owned and operated by its workers, founded in 1973.
Copies can be pre-ordered from

That was from 2014 so you can no longer pre-order it, but you can still order a copy from their site.

Another champion of the novel was Audio Anarchy whom undertook the task of creating an Audio book version of it in 2006.

Freddy Perlman's Letters Of Insurgents is a thoroughly brilliant story about anarchist ideas. It takes the form of fictional letters between two eastern european workers who were separated after a failed revolution; one spent twelve years in statist jails, the other escaped to the west. After twenty-five years without contact, they begin to write each-other about their experiences, their lives, their hopes, and their memories of the past. The characters that emerge from these narratives tell a story that is both incredibly subtle and infinitely complex. Nothing is taken for granted, no assumptions are left unchallenged, and the reader is left with a set of questions that only a story about relationships could present.
Being a particularly long book, each letter will be presented here a week at a time until the entire recording is finished. And everyone who listens to the entire book will receive a Letters Of Insurgents Merit Badge.

In total the book was over 31 hours. It also appears to have finished off the group as sadly their recording of Letters of Insurgents appears to have been the last project of the group.

Playlist Link


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Appendix Soviet Attitudes to Homosexuality re Paedophilia

Content Warning: As the title indicates, the following post will go into some dark areas, mainly abuse, physical, sexual and medical. Discretion is advised.

A while back I wrote an essay about the early Soviet authorities attitudes towards Homosexuality. Aside from a brief section about how teenage girls suspected of being lesbians were treated by Psychiatric authorities in the 1980s much of the information didn't move past the 1950s. On reflection restricting myself to that period might of been a mistake, so this is something of a follow up.

I've noticed that its increasingly common amongst Stalin admirers whom can't handle the homophobia argue that the laws against homosexuality where just laws to protect children. AKA the usual dogwhistle for anti queer bigotry.

I thought I dealt with this myth pretty well in my earlier essay by just quoting both versions of the legal article in full.

Like so.

“154-a. Sexual relations of a man with a man (pederasty)--

deprivation of liberty for a term up to five years.

Pederasty, done with the employment of force or use of the dependent situation of the victim, --

deprivation of liberty for a term from five to eight years.
[1 April 1934 (SU No 15, art. 95)].”

Sexual relations of a man with a man (pederasty),
Shall be punished by deprivation of freedom for a term of up to five years.
Pederasty committed with the application of physical force, or threats, or with respect to a minor, or with taking advantage of the dependent position of the victim,
Shall be punished by deprivation of freedom for a term of up to eight years.’

(Butler, WE, Translator & Editor, Basic Documents on the Soviet Legal System, Oceana Publications, 1983, Page 344)

The key to their argument always revolves around the use of the word Pederasty. Now if you read these passages you'll notice some very strange logical issues, pederasty is being defined as sexual relations between men, it not only doesn't specify an age of consent but states that sex between "a man and a man". Two men.

Further more the additional clauses specify a harsher sentence if coercion is involved or one of the sexual partners is a minor. So while the law does contain punishments of paedophilic relationships it also makes clear that non coercive sex between two men who aren't minors is also punishable. 

This should be the end of the discussion, but it isn't. However there is more to be considered, I could give you a boring lesson on etymology and how words relating to Queer people and our identities are often fluid and changing or how the term homosexual was popularised by German sex reformers in the 19th century. Or how in Russian legal and psychological literature the term "pederast" was used as a blanket term for all same sex activities dating back to Tzarist times. For example men suspected of being the "Passive pederast" could be compelled to undergo medical examination of their anal cavity to check for signs of penetration.
Here the Russian cases turned chiefly on identification of the
“passive pederast” through examination of the anal region and comparison
with a catalog of deformities.

Dan Healy's Homosexual Desire in Revolutionary Russia

But fortunately I don't have to, because its much easier to expose the lie, see even the Soviet legal and medical authorities acknowledged that their legal code criminalised consensual same sex relations.

After the 1950s there were isolated voices calling for legal reforms including to Article 121.

The above images come from Sociolegal Control of Homosexuality, their section on Russia relies heavily on the work of Igor S. Kon at the Russian Academy of Sciences. This is the Soviet Authorities in their own words, but of course it shouldn't have to get this far.

LGBTQ people do exist in the former USSR and they have been open about how they were repressed by the Soviet authorities. We also have the explicit attacks on homosexuality as decadent, bourgeois and Fascist, from the Comintern and its fraternal parties outside the Soviet Union. The evidence is overwhelming and from many sources. but there's always an excuse. 

Friday, 9 November 2018

The French Army Mutinies of 1917


The French Army Mutiny
Of 1917
Hello and thank you for downloading Witness from the BBC World Service with me Alex Last. And as part of our centenary series on the First World War, using archived recordings we go back to the spring of 1917 when the French army was rocked by mutiny.

Edward Spears:
The thing that astonishes me is that the French army didn’t mutiny a long time before 1917. They had had absolutely appalling losses, due largely you know to mistakes and to mistaken theories.

Alex Last:
General Edward Louis Spears was in 1917 the head of the British military mission to the French Government.

Edward Spears:
At the beginning of the war in August 1914 I myself had seen the French army attacking German positions and machine guns with bands playing and officers in white gloves leading them in. they went on suffering terrible losses, still they endured displaying qualities of stoicism and staying power which we really thought only we were capable of.

Alex Last:
By April 1917 one million French troops had been killed, even more had been wounded, all in less than three years of war. Most had fought and died in seemingly hopeless battles of attrition on the western front, and even if they survived the big offensives, life in the trenches could be truly grim.
The British realising this would rotate men in and out of the front lines every few days, the French did not. Troops stayed in the morass, rest was short, leave often cancelled. On April the 16th 1917 the French commander General Nivelle launched yet another massive offensive. In a message to his troops he boasted he knew the formula for victory and wrote to them of the need for sacrifice.

Louis Barthas:
The reading of this patriotic drivel aroused no enthusiasm at all.

Alex Last:
Louis Barthas kept a private account of life as an ordinary French soldier.

Louis Barthas:
It only served to demoralise the soldier who heard in it only a terrible menace, more suffering, great danger, a frightful death, a useless sacrifice totally in vain. No one had any confidence in this new round of killing leading to any useful result.

Alex Last:
One of the offensives principal targets was a ridge called Le Chemin de Dames, the French attack went wrong from the start.

Pierre Gaultier:
The plan of the French attack has been betrayed to the Germans. He knew exactly the date, even the hour of the French attack. The whistle went and we attacked, I was in the second line, in the few minutes after the attack was launched, the two battalions they had been wiped out.

Alex Last:
Pierre Gaultier was a sergeant in the French army.

Pierre Gaultier:
So our attack was stopped, was hopeless, put ourselves in shell holes or made little holes to put ourselves in so that the machine guns couldn’t hit us. We stayed there for the rest of the day could only recover to our lines at night.

Alex Last:
90,000 French troops were killed or wounded in the first day but Nivelle did not call a halt. A popular song emerged among the French troops of the time the words said it all.
[French recording of the song La Chanson de Craonne]
Adieu la vie, adieu l'amour, Adieu toutes les femmes C'est bien fini, c'est pour toujours De cette guerre infâme C'est à Craonne sur le plateau Qu'on doit laisser sa peau Car nous sommes tous condamnés C'est nous les sacrifiés
Goodbye to life,
Goodbye to love,
Goodbye to all the women,
It’s all over now, we’ve had it for good,
With this awful war,
Its in Craonne up on the plateau we’re leaving our skins,
Because we’ve all been sentenced to die,
We’re the ones that they’re sacrificing,

Louis Edwards:
The weariness, the hopelessness of the prospect of the war seemed utterly dreadful. Furthermore there were these rumours of the Russian Revolution and things weren’t looking at all good.

Alex Last:
In early May, elements of a French division refused the order to attack, mutinies soon spread.

Louis Barthas:
A wind of revolt blew across almost all the regiments. There were plenty of reasons for discontent, the painful failure of the Chemin de Dames offensive, which had no result other than a dreadful slaughter. The prospect of more long months of war, ahead with a highly dubious outcome, and finally the long wait for home leave.
It is that which bothered the soldiers most I believe.

Alex Last:
Louis Barthas’s regiment was one of those that mutinied.

Louis Barthas:
At noon on May the 30th there was even a meeting outside the village to form a Russian style Soviet composed of three men from each company to take control of the regiment. To my amazement, they offered me the presidency of the soviet; that is to say to replace the Colonel no less.
Imagine me, an obscure peasant commander of the 296th regiment. I refused as I had no wish to be tied to an execution post.

Alex Last:
Incredibly the French managed to keep the mutiny a secret from both friend and foe.

Louis Edwards:
It did seem astonishing that we had 60 highly qualified officers attached to the French headquarters, and over a period of weeks the French had managed to conceal any trouble from them. In a way perhaps it was fortunate, because the Germans hadn’t heard either, if the Germans had then the war would have been over.

Alex Last:
General Spears was one of very few outside the French army to hear about the mutinies. He went to investigate himself.

Edward Spears:
I found that there were only two divisions of the whole French army that could be relied upon, between the front line and Paris. And I arrived in part of the country near Soissons which I knew very well and there I was met with the most amazing sight. Regiment after regiment was in open mutiny.
There were degrees of mutiny, in many units all the men wore red rosettes, the officers were confined to a section of the village, had no authority at all. And the men had established posts, I wasn’t in the least molested, I asked what was going on? And got rather evasive answers, but in the main found that the line taken by the men was that they were prepared to occupy the line, but they weren’t prepared to fight. After what had happened, after the bloodbath they’d been submitted to after all, one could understand their point of view.

Alex Last:
Faced with mutinies on such a large scale the French army – both officers and men- wrestled with how to react. Caught in the middle sergeant Gaultier was ordered to lead a few men to halt a huge crowd of mutinous soldiers from another regiment.

Pierrre Gaultier:
Before we got to the crowd my men told me “we’ll follow you anywhere. But we shan’t go with bayonets on against French troops”. I looked at the crowd, they were unarmed. One of them had a frying pan in one hand and a poker in the other and was hitting it as hard as possible and he told me “come on boys, we’ll go to Paris and throw grenades in the Palais Bourbon”. 

So, I told him he may do whatever he likes but we weren’t of that opinion, we had nothing to do we started talking, there were thousands they were upset but they had nothing ferocious about them. But in the meantime some machine guns had already been put in position. And they went back to their quarters and the next day rains of lorries came and took them somewhere, I never heard of them again.

Alex Last:
Amid the crisis General Nivelle was removed, General Petain took over and promised to improve conditions. Through force and deception the most rebellious units were separated and purged. Thousands were arrested hundreds sentenced to death, though only around 50 were actually executed. And in time the mutinies petered out, units were returned to the line.

Louis Barthas:
We gathered to start off for the trenches, noisy demonstrations took place. Shouting, singing, whistling, screaming and of course the singing of the International. If the officers had made a gesture or sad a word against this noise I sincerely believe they would have been ruthlessly massacred, so high was the tension. 

They took the most sensible course, waiting patiently until calm was restored, you cannot shout, whistle and scream forever. And there was no leader among the rebels capable of making a decision or of giving us direction. So we ended up heading towards the trenches although not without grumbling or griping.

Alex Last:

For the French army after the mutinies for a time the notion of launching huge offensives was over. It adopted a more defensive policy to reduce the loss of life, but the sacrifices of the French soldier were to continue for another year, by which time almost one and a half million were dead, more than four million wounded. Losses that would profoundly shape France for decades.
But perhaps given the scale of the slaughter on all sides what’s remarkable was not that there was a mutiny but rather that it was so rare.

Louis Edwards:
Who can blame the men who had suffered so much for not believing that the struggle wasn’t hopeless? Who could blame for having lost faith in their leadership?

The German Revolution of 1918

Hello and welcome to the Witness podcast from the BBC World Service with me Alex Last. And today using recordings from the BCC archive we go back 100 years to November 1918, when in the final weeks of World War One Germany was on the point of collapse and facing revolution.

Archival Witness One:

The whole life of the country was becoming grimmer, it was getting very difficult. The war was lasting too long and Germany didn’t have much chance of winning it because conditions within the country were getting so very difficult and there was a general feeling that the war as a whole had to stop. This feeling was spreading very fast among the civilian population and I saw that the war would have to end soon. That was the feeling shared by most of the soldiers I met in those days, they were fed up with the whole thing and they wanted to go home badly.

Alex Last:
After four years of war by late 1918 the situation in Germany was desperate. First there was the human cost, two million German soldiers were dead, four million had been wounded. Germany’s armies were in retreat, its main allies were defeated or on the point of collapse. But on the home front too civilians had been struggling. Years of a British naval blockade on Germany had created shortages and hunger.
Archival Witness Two (Hertha Hasse):
Of course the food situation got worse and worse, which got on everybody’s nerves.

Alex Last:
Hertha Hasse lived in Frankfurt.

Hertha Hasse:
Our diet consisted mainly of turnips one day and barley and prunes the next and then it started again. And people got more and more undernourished, and my mother gave everything possible to the children.
Those people who really had no connections and didn’t get anything else were in a deplorable state of nutrition.

Alex Last:
Alarmingly for the German government discipline within the armed forces was fraying.
Archival Witness three (Heinrich Boytoff):
In 1918 when I became a soldier myself I think discipline was getting rather slack.

Alex Last:
Heinrich Boytoff was the son of a German officer.

Heinrich Boytoff:
You could see it on the streets of the garrison town, when soldiers coming from the front didn’t take the pains of saluting officers anymore. They thought the officers in the garrison had a very good time so why should they salute them? That was considering the discipline in the Prussian army a very great change. And it showed that something was breaking, for instance my commanding officer was so afraid of a coming revolution that he made me sleep with a gun in my arm in front of his rooms in the night.

I had to do that, perhaps this experience shows that the German army behind the front was in those days, let’s say September, October, November not quite intact anymore. And the average soldier, a lot of them I think had the feeling that the war was lost already then.

Alex Last:
They were not alone; in September 1918 the German High Command told the German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm that the war was indeed lost. Germany began to make peace overtures but the Allies wanted total capitulation. The German military’s top brass had effectively ruled the country during the war but now defeat was inevitable they wanted to abdicate responsibility for the catastrophe. So in the final weeks of the war there was constitutional reform, a move towards parliamentary democracy. For the first time leaders of the left-wing Social Democrats the country’s largest political party were invited to into government, but events on the ground were moving fast.
There were strikes by workers and in Kiel sailors of the German Navy mutinied demanding peace.

Naval Officer Edgar Luktin was in the city.

Archival Witness Four (Edgar Luktin):
The first signs of what was coming appeared in Kiel, there was some shooting, in the morning of the 5th of November I saw the Red Flag on board of my boat. First shock, the general feeling was of course, well now it’s definitely over and that was the feeling of the Kiel population too. They were certainly mostly interested in coming to and with this lost war because then they could hope they would get food again. They were more or less starving since quite a considerable time.

Alex Last:
And form Kiel protests escalated across Germany, left-wing workers and soldiers councils were set up in major cities, there were calls for peace and democratisation, the creation of a socialist state, some wanted to go further. Germany was facing a revolution.
In response peace efforts were stepped up and on the 9th of November the Kaiser himself was forced to abdicate and in Berlin Germany was declared a Republic. And the leaders of the Social Democratic party took charge of the government, trying to stabilise the situation.

Archival Witness four (Baron von Rheinbarben):
When I arrived in the Foreign Office on the morning of the 9th of November there were certain groups in the streets and unrest everywhere. But we didn’t know the real truth that the Kaiser had left for Holland and that the German government had broken down.

Alex Last:
Baron von Rheinbarben was a German diplomat.

Baron von Rheinbarben:
There was no more government to decide what should happen. Only one man perhaps and that was Ebert the chief of the Social Democrat Party. He remained in office but we heard that Schiedemann another Social Democrat had declared a German Republic from the window of the Reichstag.
Archival Witness five (Eva Reichman):
The atmosphere was heavy with rumours.

Alex Last:
Eva Reichman lived in Berlin.

Eva Reichman:
Then suddenly I remember near the Opera House a red motor car chased through Unter den Linden, a motor car with a red flag with soldiers and machine gun in front. The others followed, a few shots were heard in the distance. The streets filed with little discussion groups bearing banners or shouting `Long live the Republic! Long live the Socialist Revolution!`

Archival Witness six:
There were thousands and thousands of people, there was a mob. They cried that they wanted the communists as new rulers. And I saw officers still in uniform and I saw the mob taking away the epaulettes of those officers. It was terrible.

Archival Witness seven:
Then suddenly the news sellers turned up with new special editions, the Kaiser and the Crown Prince had abdicated. At that moment, it was a moment of extreme excitement, the idea of monarchy or no monarchy didn’t matter to me in the least, my only idea was that now the Armistice was attained.

Alex Last:
And within days the war would be over, though the political chaos in Germany would not. For peace Germany would have to accept harsh terms but its military and political leaders knew that fighting on was not an option. The German army was defeated and exhausted; the public would not countenance futile slaughter. And yet for soldiers like Hartwig Pohlmann the deafeat was still very hard to take.

Archival Witness eight(Hartwig Pohlmann):

We of course knew that the bitter end was near, our Armistice delegation had crossed the lines near La Capelle on November the 8th. Two days later HQ orders told us that the Armistice will be concluded without delay. The Emperor, the Crown Prince and all the Federal Princes had resigned.
That same day the new German Republican government of Ebert, Schiedemann and Haase asked our supreme Headquarters to make sure that we soldiers should uphold discipline. Then we received on November the 11th the order `As from twelve noon the guns are silent, the war is over`. How we had imagined and longed for that very moment, but now Germany had capitulated, and in our state of despair the retreat began.

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