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The West: Encounters and Transformations Report (Assessment)


“Voices from the Battle of the Somme”

The battle of the Somme was one of the deadliest battles in the history of humanity. People seeing all those horrible deaths, corpses, gun machines had the so-called “shell shock”.

That was a deep psychological trauma that affected people differently. In many cases men were shocked, they cried. Others were fixated on a single idea, either to run and save oneself, or kill as many enemies as possible.

The loss of friends made soldiers seek for revenge. A soldier reflects upon one of the battles where he saw his friend die. This made the soldier eager to kill enemies without even noticing his wounds (Kishlansky 246).

Those who saw their friends’ deaths stopped thinking about anything in the world as they saw their targets and wanted to make their enemies pay for their friends’ deaths.

It is necessary to note that the battle was rather an unbearable experience for young soldiers. Thus, a soldier writes that he was young and he was shocked, he was ashamed of his fear (Kishlansky 243).

Of course, it was really hard to find oneself in the middle of the massacre for a young boy who had faces few or no negative experiences. Those events made young boys become mature men with hardened hearts.

Such experiences made people change their attitude towards death. Thus, one of the stories shows the difference between the attitude of a veteran and a newcomer. Thus, newcomers were shocked, they could not bear seeing even one man’s death (Kishlansky 247).

However, veterans counted in tens or even hundreds. It was not about cruelty, veterans got used to death which was all around the battle field.

Ernst Junger “Storm Of Steel”

When writing the story, Junger believed the war was an “incomparable schooling of the heart” (249). He thought that his war experience made him stronger. He claimed that the war was a great lesson he learnt as he learned more about human nature. He saw that men possessed a great will which led them to victory.

When Junger asked one soldier about the situation, the latter told him of the horrible noise, shells, guns, messed trenches and corpses (Junger 250). The soldier also said that it was always difficult to understand what was what (where the enemy was, where English troops were). This description did not differ from what Junger and his men had to experience in trenches some time later.

The war affected all in quite the same way. Men were shocked and disoriented. Many did not know what to do. Even Junger, who had to lead his men, was not always sure in what was right and what really should have been done.

Junger depicts the picture of a town devastated by the war (250). He tells about partly destroyed houses, corpses everywhere. Many people died in that war (military people, civilians, children). He also mentions gardens where fruits rot as there are no people to collect the fruits.

When reading the last lines of the story it is quite difficult to state that it is an antiwar novel as the author states that he is proud of soldiers who are committed to give their lives to achieve some goals. However, when reading the story it is obvious that the war is a horrible and rather meaningless thing.

Thousands and millions of people died without even understanding what was what. Thus, it is possible to assume that it is an antiwar story as it shows horrors of the war.

V.I. Lenin “What Is To Be Done?”

Lenin claims that workers should be educated by revolutionaries. Lenin states that workers should know the major doctrines of socialism to be able to build the new order. He also stresses that there can be no dissent as it will make the working class weaker and vulnerable.

Lenin rejects trade unionism as he sees trade unions as another way to control and exploit the working class (Lenin 257). He claims that trade unions are governed by bourgeoisie which is the major enemy of the working class. Therefore, Lenin argues that there should be no trade unions as workers should not allow bourgeoisie rule.

Lenin argues that revolutionary movement has to have strong organizations of trained revolutionaries who will educate workers, provide and spread literature. These revolutionaries have to make their revolutionary activity their priority. The organizations of these revolutionaries should be rather small, but they should be supported by the crowd.

Lenin explains his desire to make the movement highly centralized by the necessity to keep the core of the movement in secret to secure the entire movement. Of course, this centralization would make Lenin the head of the movement. It actually made him the only ruler of the new country.

It is possible to claim that the document can be regarded as an effective blueprint for would-be revolutionaries. The document is a good example of how a politician can explain his seek for power by noble goals. The document also highlights ways of leading the secret fight against those in power.

Works Cited

Junger, Ernst. “Storm of Steel.” Sources of the West: From 1600 to the Present. Ed. Mark Kishlansky. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2011. 249-252. Print.

Kishlansky, Mark. Sources of the West: From 1600 to the Present, Harlow: Pearson Education, 2011. Print.

Lenin, Vladimir Ilich. “What Is to Be Done?” Sources of the West: From 1600 to the Present. Ed. Mark Kishlansky. Harlow: Pearson Education, 2011. 256-259. Print.

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