Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Adolf Hitler — "War Poet"?

Hitler with His Fellow Soldiers

It Was in the Thicket of the Forest at Artois... 
based on a true event.

Attributed to Adolf Hitler

It was in the thick of the Artois Wood.
Deep in the trees, on blood-soaked ground,
Lay stretched a wounded German warrior,
And his cries rang out in the night.
In vain ... no echo answered his plea ..
Will he bleed to death like a beast,
That shot in the gut dies alone?

Then suddenly . . .
Heavy steps approach from the right
He hears how they stamp on the forest floor .
And new hope springs from his soul.
And now from the left . . .
And now from both sides . . .

Two men approach his miserable bed
A German it is, and a Frenchman.
And each watches the other with distrustful glance,
And threateningly they aim their weapons.
The German warrior asks:
"What do you do here?" "
I was touched by the needy one's call for help."
"It's your enemy!"
"It is a man who suffers."

And both, wordless, lower their weapons.
Then entwined their hands
And, with muscles tensed, carefully lifted
The wounded warrior, as if on a stretcher,
And carried him through the woods,
'Til they came to the German outposts.
"Now it's over.
 He will get good care."
And the Frenchman turns back toward the woods.
But the German grasps for his hand,
Looks, moved, into sorrow-dimmed eyes
And says to him with earnest foreboding:

"I know not what fate holds for us,
Which inscrutably rules in the stars.
Perhaps I shall fall, a victim of your bullet.
Maybe mine will fell you on the sand
For indifferent is the chance of battles.
Yet, however it may be and whatever may come:
We lived these sacred hours,
Where man found himself in a man . . .
And now, farewell! And God be with you!"

This is presented here as a matter of historical interest rather than for the quality of the verse. (Although this is a translation, and I don't know how well it reads in the German original.)

Sources: I've found two sources which attribute this poem to Hitler: Hitler to Power  by Charles Bracelen Flood, and the original (in German) Hitler’s World View by  Eberhard Jäckel.


  1. I find it hard to believe that Hitler wrote this. A kindly reference to a French enemy and an acknowledgment of God don’t seem part of his character. If he did write this, something serious happened to him between this poem and the end of the war, when he became a police spy.

  2. Intriguing, but if it was by Hitler then it is not man that he became. Could a writer who shows this much humanity be twisted into a genocidal megalomaniac by the horror of war and the bitterness of defeat? Possibly I suppose. As for the reference to God: he was born a Catholic and his attitude to Christianity after his rise to power varied according to what suited him at the time. But he was never an atheist; if anything he was a pagan who believed in a supreme being.

  3. The poem is lacking credible resources to attribute it to Adolf Hitler. As the other comments convey it seems that it is a different person because the poem's message contrasts sharply with what is known about Hitler's beliefs and actions. The poem itself without attributing it to an author delves in humanity and compassion in times of conflict where humanity exists in times least expected.