In his World War II diary, The Warriors, a subterranean classic now beginning to surface, Glenn Gray takes us to the spiritual heart of combat. We find that war itself--with its demand for numbing, its distortions of death and guilt--places one always on the verge of atrocity. But we note also that Gray's war--World War II--when compared to Vietnam, still had contours and a suggestion of rules.
J. Glenn Gray
The enemy was cruel, it was clear, yet this did not trouble me as deeply as did our own cruelty. Indeed, their brutality made fighting the Germans much easier, whereas ours weakened the will and confused the intellect. Though the scales were not at all equal in this contest, I felt responsibility for ours much more than for theirs. And the effect was cumulative. . . . Because of its peculiar character, one other episode haunts my mind and may be briefly set down. It happened in southern France shortly after our invasion. One day an attractive French girl appeared at our temporary headquarters and confessed that she had worked for a time with the local Gestapo and now feared the revenge of the Maquis. The French security officer with whom I was working interrogated her calmly at some length and soon found out that she had been in love with the Gestapo captain in charge of this district and had been persuaded to aid him on occasion in his repressive measures against the Resistance. Since our unit had to move on almost at once, the French officer wrote a report of his interrogation for the civil authorities of the liberated city-- and closed it with his recommendation that the girl be shot! On the way to the city jail with the girl, he picked up some pictures of his wife and children, which he had had developed in a local photography shop during our brief stay. After showing them to me for my comment and approval, he carried them to the girl in the car ahead. Ignorant of the fate he had decreed for her (and which would almost certainly be carried out at once under conditions at that time), the girl admired the