Unnamed Journal Volume 2, Issue 3 - Page 15

The Teutonic Beast by David LeBlanc "We have become wild beasts. We do not fight, we defend ourselves against annihilation. It is not against men that we fling our bombs, what do we know of men in this moment when Death is hunting us down - now, for the first time in three days we can see his face, now for the first time in three days we can oppose him; we feel a mad anger. No longer do we lie helpless, waiting on the scaffold, we can destroy and kill, to save ourselves, to save ourselves and be revenged." -All Quiet on the Western Front “G uilty," said the first judge. "Guilty," said the second judge. "Guilty," said the third judge. The men of 3rd Platoon, Company D, 272nd Infantry, 1st US Army reacted to the verdict with silence. True, it was a forgone conclusion. There was no question of their guilt. On the night of 6th August, 1918, the platoon, then in contact with elements of the German army, deserted their post en masse. The platoon's only casualty was its commanding officer, Lt. John Wagram, who at the time of the trial was still MIA. The men of the platoon gave no explanation for their actions, nor did they even enter a plea. They answered factual questions without hesitation, but when asked to explain their actions, gave no answer. Private Harolds broke down in tears and raved when pressed too hard by the prosecuting officer. The first judge repeated the names of the men in the platoon. He informed them that they had been found guilty of desertion in the face of the enemy, and that this was a capital offense. "Have you anything to say before sentence is issued?" Sergeant Matthews, the ranking platoon sergeant, stood up. "Sir," said Sergeant Matthews, "The men agreed that I should speak for them before the court-martial began. It may seem strange, our silence. But we know we're guilty. We failed as soldiers and as men, and we know it. But what we saw..." He stopped, and he seemed to shake for a moment, before recovering himself. "We do not ask mercy of the court. We ask only for a chance to show we're not damned cowards. I know it seems that way, but hand-to-God, we ain't. We're ready to face death if you should so decide. "So we ask to go back to the line. We ask for the Suicide Ditch. We'll go, and glad." A murmur ran through the staff officers and hangers-on who had stopped to observe the verdict. But the j