Impuissance face aux souffrances
The first document is an extract of the autobiography I Was a German, written in 1933 by Ernst Toller. This German dramatist fought during the first World War for his country, before being physically and morally injured. In the extract, Toller describes how awful was the no man’s land, the place between the front-line trenches of each camp. In fact, he tells us the agony of an other soldier who wasn’t rescued. He was “naked and inarticulate” (l.3), “in excruciating pain” (l.1), but he survived three days. Toller draw the reader’s attention to the cries of this injured : they lasted the whole nights and were horrible. Toller and his comrade in arms “thrust [their] fingers into [their] ears to stop its moan” (l.5/6), but it was inefficient… Moreover, the dramatist tells us that “two men” (l.9) tried to rescue the wounded but the enemies shot them. All this goes to show that, during the first World War,q everybody was powerless faced with the pain : some injured were isolated, abandoned, and the few people who tried to rescue them were gambling with their life, because of the enemy threat.
The second document is an extract of a text written by Lance Sergeant Elmer Cotton. He describes the effects of chlorine gas, first introduced as a weapon at Ypres in 1915. These effects were, as Elmer Cotton said, “fiendish” (l.5), awful. In fact, the gas made you have a terrible headache (l.2) : it’s when your head hurts ; and you were very thirsty. However, if you drank, you instantly died : “to drink water is instant death” (l.2). Moreover, you had a terrible pain in the lungs, the organ which makes you breath, like if you had a “knife edge” (l.2) in the lungs, and “you coughed up of a greenish froth” (l.3), a greenish foam, off the stomach and the lungs. Finally, your skin became “greenish black and yellow” (l.4), it protruded, like eczema, and your eyes became “glassy” (l.5), just so like glass. To sum up, it was it was like if you had been drowned, because you