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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/18/17

Then There's Only One Choice

Author 1954
Message William T. Hathaway
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Wolfgang Borchert
Wolfgang Borchert
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Wolfgang Borchert:

This month marks the 70th anniversary of the death of Wolfgang Borchert, a young German writer who was seriously wounded in World War II then imprisoned for resistance activities. Physically destroyed, he lived only two years after the war. During that time he wrote antiwar literature that is widely read in Germany but little known in the USA, where it is currently most needed. His play about a traumatized veteran, DRAUSSEN VOR DER TÜR ( THE MAN OUTSIDE ), brought him literary fame after his death. "Dann gibt es nur eins!" ("Then There's Only One Choice") is the last poem he wrote before his death in 1947 at the age of 26. It shows a perceptive foresight of the inevitability of global destruction unless the people of the world refuse to serve the military.

"Then There's Only One Choice", by Wolfgang Borchert:

[Translated from the German by William T. Hathaway.]

You. Man at the machine in the factory. When they tell you tomorrow to stop making pots and pans and instead make helmets and machine guns, then there's only one choice:

Say NO!

You. Woman in the store, woman in the office. When they tell you tomorrow to fill grenades and mount telescopic sights on sniper rifles, then there's only one choice:

Say NO!

You. Factory owner. When they tell you tomorrow to make gun powder instead of baby powder, then there's only one choice:

Say NO!

You. Researcher in the laboratory. When they tell you tomorrow to invent new ways to kill people, then there's only one choice:

Say NO!

You. Songwriter in your studio. When they tell you tomorrow not to sing love songs but hate songs, then there's only one choice:

Say NO!

You. Doctor in the clinic. When they tell you tomorrow to declare soldiers fit for combat, then there's only one choice:

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William T. Hathaway is the author of eight books and was a Fulbright professor of creative writing at universities in Germany, where he currently lives. His environmental novel, Wellsprings: A Fable of Consciousness, tells of an old woman and a (more...)
 

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