zaterdag 11 januari 2014

Charles Hennebois -- 12 januari 1915

January 12. A German Sister. Her name : Erizia. Her community : a Krankenhaus (hospital) of some kind a long way off in West- phalia. Her domicile : San Klemens. It is she who nurses us. We would willingly dispense with her attentions. Physically, small. Her face is oval, fairly regular, almost pretty. When she is reading her eyes are calm and grave. Sister Erizia can smile, though not, of course, on the French, and her smile is sweet. It contradicts the cold cruelty of her little hands. When she is dressing a wound, it is useless to cry out. C. could tell you all about it. She tortures him as she chooses.

If perchance you dread the cold of the January mornings, being thinly covered ; if you are shivering in your bed, Sister Erizia is a ministering angel ! She opens all the doors and windows, setting up a current of icy air. And woe to him who complains ! Hey mouth is like a machine-gun. She rushes at you, seizes all your wrappings, your sheets, and your blanket, and leaves you naked as a worm.

Christian charity, forgiveness and forgetfulness of offences are certainly not her strong points. Some patient may perchance have infringed the Teuton regulations in some trivial particular. Sister Erizia makes ready. She is immanent Justice, cold, sure, and implacable. Her grey silhouette is seen waiting in the passage. She catches the doctor as he passes, and the machine-gun unrolls its deadly belt. Good heavens, what a fusillade ! Perhaps you got up this morning. You feel very weak, and you sit down on the edge of your bed. She rushes over to you : " Schweinereien I Schweinereien ! " This word is addressed to the French. Her small hands seize you, take you by the shoulders, and roll you pitilessly to the ground. " Nicht liegen" ("You are not to lie down.") You must either stay in bed all day or sit up all day. What do complications or haemorrhages matter to Sister Erizia ? Has she not two broken legs upon her tender conscience already and I know not how many relapses ?

The soul of Erizia does not suffer for this, that virgin soul she offers with her prayers to the German God of Love. She serves her country without doing disservice to God. Did she not declare, on one mournful evening recently, that God had appointed Germany to chastise France, to destroy once for all that nest of impiety, vice, and alcoholism. Her two hands were clasped upon her thin breast. Her eyes smiled up at the " Great Ally " in Heaven. I felt as lonely as a shipwrecked man.

Sister Erizia is exquisite. She shows us some really touching attentions. She always chooses the time when we are at our meals to empty certain necessary utensils and carry them backwards and forwards through the ward.


Charles Hennebois was een Franse soldaat die in 1914 in Duitsland ernstig gewond raakte en in gevangenschap verpleegd werd. Zijn dagboek van die periode is gepubliceerd als In German hands. The diary of a severely wounded prisoner.

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