from The Way of Sacrifice by FRITZ VON UNRUH, translated by C. A. Macartney
EVERY MAN was at his post. The fuse glimmered at the great mine-field. Dugouts glowed with eyes. In the crowded knots of men a heart-beat of expectation throbbed. The din of crashing worlds dashed piercing, searing waves against the men's ears. It stabbed and hammered through brains. Werner's eyes were riveted on his watch. Eternities grew big between seconds and seconds. Watch grew into universe. He was God, devising creations between one and two and four, and destroying them. Before the last second, will gathered more potently: 'Be!' Then out of a mysterious strength a voice shouted: 'Forward, out of the trenches!' With astonished faces the company saw their heads raised above the trench rim. What would come now? Clemens bit his teeth into his lips till they bled. Death was awake now. Threatening, he leaped amid the mad drumming of the batteries. His jaws grinned. The Captain raised his arm, crying: 'Eleven o'clock!' But the mine did not explode. He waited from 11.01 to 11.02, to 11.03. The sound of advancing companies rang from the adjacent trenches. The sweat ran over his chin. The mine did not explode. He must advance over that surface that might burst under them at any moment. An icy fire swept over him as he gave the signal to attack.--Hillbrand clambered out of the trench, an ax brandished in his hand. With menacing strides, untouched by the first hail of shot that swept the trench's edge, he advanced against the enemy. Stepping behind him, in fearful calm, came his soldiers. Thoughts, feelings were suspended. Wild fear of death turned all bodies into raging instincts of self-preservation. A single impulse drove their bodies on and tore them forward. Steel helmets waved over the brushwood like black depths. Only white armlets on arms that hurled death and sank again touched the dark, silent attack with a rush and a wild exultation. Remorseless, Hillbrand's ax crashed down through enemy and brushwood as he cleared a path.--In tensest excitement, lovely
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Publication information: Book title: Germany: a Self-Portrait:A Collection of German Writings from 1914 to 1943. Contributors: Harlan R. Crippen - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1944. Page number: 57.
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