At the corner of the barracks, a piece of plaster has intentionally been chipped away to reveal an old sign, from which the following has been preserved:
A short while back, it was nothing more than an antique ornament, but today it is not just a relic of old times, but a reminder of all past indignities, always proclaimed, printed, posted, and displayed by that sinister Schwabacher script.
Back in those times, the barracks was a dormant beast of war under the peaceful afternoon sun, a war machine issuing commands in Schwabacher, a language inscribed in Schwabacher. Once more, the beast of war slumbers beneath the afternoon spring sun, her mouth swarming with soldiers. As she sleeps, the spring sun leans upon her head, which she has adorned arrogantly and greedily with the plundered royal emblems of the Land of Bohemia. It's no wonder she smiles in her slumber, this well-fed dragoness! In her dreams, she breathes in the scent of blood and disease spreading from her excrement.
Meanwhile, the soldiers arrive with their bundles, busying themselves in the yard, some enjoying a smoke, one of them playing the French horn. Is there a sweeter moment for slumber than beneath the spring sun, with pale green leaves fluttering and the sound of the horn?
The beast of war has little concept of time. It forgets how much time has passed since the previous war still lingering in the air. In its blissful reverie, the beast remains oblivious to the fact that the uniforms it houses have changed over time. To the beast, a soldier is but a soldier, and war is but war. Who said that its power should be restrained? Forever restrained?
I won’t be long before it whispers into the ear of one of these young men resting on the cot,
The young man lying discontentedly on the cot. Who is this young man?
This one or that one. All soldiers are alike, all wars are alike, all young men are alike.
The beast of war whispers in his ear: flags, many flags. Cheers of victory! Power, power! A grand idea, a grand idea!
Who shall carry it out?
You! The beast whispers to the tiny youth.
The beast approaches one, then another, then thousands more, hundreds of thousands more; once in a great while, it succeeds, and a tiny young man who has been rolling discontentedly on a cot in the barracks becomes its instrument; an instrument of its hatred and its desire to kill.
Outside in the park, mothers push prams, a duck nests in the tall grass and its gander swims in an artificial pond.
A little girl says that the lady over there who is rocking the pram has two baby girls. Two little boys walk along the path and the little girl points to one of them, “That’s Eddie over there.”
Lovers – the only ones whose consent matters for whether bombers will circle high in the sky, whether the barracks will fill with soldiers, whether the war beast‘s hunger will be satisfied; the ones on whom everything hinges – only have eyes for each other. They are oblivious to the fact that sooner than they realize, their consent for widespread slaughter will be extracted from them. If they were more sensible, they wouldn’t go to that park until they were assured that bomber planes would never again fly in the sky, that the beast of war would never again be fed with living people. But they cannot see and cannot hear until it’s too late. Then, reluctantly, they accept government support for newlyweds. They’re not sure whether to be proud that the powers that be are showing them such charming attention or whether to be ashamed. Then everything unfolds rapidly: