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Words on war and peace

by Dieter Potzel
"Every cannon that is built, every warship that is launched, every missile that is fired is ultimately a theft from those who are hungry and have nothing to eat, those who are cold and have no clothes. A world under arms not only squanders money. It also squanders the sweat of its workers, the spirit of its scientists and the hope of its children." (45) former President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Words about war and peace
A book review
[This excerpt posted on 12/10/2024 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

The Theologian No. 122, updated on 10.12.2023

Author: Matthias Holzbauer
Further references to the following quotations can be found in the book Words on War and Peace, Marktheidenfeld 2023. The book contains, among others, quotations from

Erasmus of Rotterdam
Bertolt Brecht
Aldous Huxley
Erich Maria Remarque
"This is my word"
Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Baruch Spinoza
Cyprian of Carthage
Günter Grass
Helmut Schmidt
Jesus of Nazareth
and many, many more

War and peace - this is a topic that is unfortunately very topical again in our time [December 2023]. We now have two wars going on at the same time in the immediate vicinity or on the outskirts of Europe. Two wars that are brought to our attention every day by the news.

Unfortunately, this topic of "war and peace" has also been topical for previous generations for centuries and millennia. But when reading this newly published booklet, you can't help but think about the current situation. At least that's how I felt. But we don't want to stop there. That's why the word "peace" is in the title of the book. And this word stands for the goal and the way to get there. And ultimately, it concerns each and every one of us, whether we like it or not. We cannot avoid it.
But it is also necessary that we deal with it, necessary in the truest sense of the word: it turns a hardship around. For who would have thought that, almost eighty years after the end of the Second World War, we would once again be living in a time in which some people don't like to hear people talking about peace or the path to it - namely because they first want to win the war that is currently raging.

Erasmus of Rotterdam

And that brings us right to the heart of the matter. Because it's not that new. Erasmus of Rotterdam, for example, stated 500 years ago, and I may quote:
"It has now come to such a pass that war is generally considered an acceptable thing and one is surprised that there are people who do not like it ..." (67)

The humanist Erasmus was cursed by Martin Luther at the time, and all his works ended up on the Index of the Catholic Church. It's also written here. And everyone can judge for themselves: Times have changed, no doubt about it. But how fundamentally have they changed? Because even today, attempts are once again being made to make the corridor of views and statements on certain topics as narrow as possible.

And while we're on the subject of Erasmus: He also thought about who was ultimately behind the war. It couldn't be God, the Eternal One. Erasmus knew that too. He said:
"Where then is the devil's kingdom if it is not in war?" (67)

Today we would say that it is the "god of the underworld" or the "father from below", as Jesus of Nazareth called him, who draws his energy from the warlike, negative behavior of people. But the meaning is the same.

And so we could practise listening to the quotes collected here in this book, listening in and paying attention to what resonates in us in terms of current references or from our lives.

Bertolt Brecht

What do we think of, for example, when we read what Bert Brecht wrote?
"Great Carthage fought three wars. After the first it was still powerful. After the second, it was still habitable. After the third, it was no longer to be found." (32)

I don't need to say much about this. Perhaps we should think of the countries where war is currently being waged. What will it look like there in the end? Because hardly anyone has tried to achieve peace and negotiations - or because the opportunities that existed and still exist have not been and will not be used?

Aldous Huxley

Or let's take the British writer Aldous Huxley, who wrote in the 20th century:
"The object of war propaganda is, first, to create two groups, and, secondly, to obliterate the memory in one group that the other group are human beings too." (14)

The word "war propaganda" stuck with me here. There is plenty of it again today. And every day we are called upon not to fall for it. Otherwise our thoughts and feelings will sooner or later become part of the information war. Because, as we all know, no energy is lost.

Erich Maria Remarque

The masterminds of wars, on the other hand, do not take part in war, at least not in external, military war. The German writer Erich Maria Remarque recognized this when he once said:
"I always thought that every person was against war, until I found out that there are some who are for it. Especially those who don't have to go." (19)

"This is my word"

And this includes, above all, the rich, who earn a lot from the dying and killing through the dividends and share profits of the arms industry. And at this point I may also quote a few sentences from the great work of revelation of our time, from This is My Word, a revelation of Christ. For there are also a number of appropriate passages from it in this little booklet. Here, for example, we read:
"Through the rich, much envy and suffering came into this world; even wars were triggered by power-hungry rich people who wanted to demonstrate their power and increase their prestige. Entire peoples often had to suffer under such greed for power and domination; for wars brought famine, suffering, disease and epidemics to the peoples who suffered under their rulers and leaders. Even in times of need, some rich people enriched themselves, while the poor became even poorer. A few even became richer through armaments and war, while the majority of peoples continued to live in the constraints of yoke and oppression."

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Some of those who were involved in waging war on the front line also recognized what wars do. For example, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the commanders-in-chief of the US Army during the Second World War and President of the USA for eight years after the war (1953 - 1961). However, towards the end of his second term of office, he became very thoughtful. He wrote: "Every cannon that is built, every warship that is launched, every missile that is fired is ultimately a theft from those who are hungry and have nothing to eat, those who are cold and have no clothes. A world under arms not only squanders money. It also squanders the sweat of its workers, the spirit of its scientists and the hope of its children." (45)

In his farewell speech in 1961, Eisenhower even warned against the so-called "deep state", which was always looking for new wars to increase its profits and power. Whether he achieved anything with this warning is for everyone to judge for themselves.

Baruch Spinoza

And the question would also be: Is it enough to know what war does? Or, if we are striving for peace, shouldn't we also be concerned with another question? How does war actually come about? And how does peace come about?

The Jewish philosopher Baruch de Spinoza was on the trail of this when he wrote in the 17th century:
"Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is a virtue, an attitude of mind, an inclination towards goodness, trust and justice." (30)


Peace therefore begins on the inside, within every human being. Gabriele, the prophetess and messenger of God in our time, describes this as follows in her book The Speaking All-Unity:
"Again and again we hear and read that we should reconsider how we feel, perceive, think, speak and act. These five components in connection with our senses can become explosives ... If we realize that we are building arsenals of weapons with our feelings, sensations, thoughts, speech and actions and we realize that everything is energy and no energy is lost, then we will also understand how it can come about that our earth planet is armed with weapons systems of all kinds. So peace begins within. Seven billion people feel, sense, think, speak and act every day, every hour, every minute, every second, even every moment. Energy is released according to the content of the five components. If they are negative, then they form the energetic building materials - not only for weapons arsenals in the figurative sense, but they are also actually the basis for people being stimulated to develop weapons, manufacture weapons, position weapons, practice with weapons in order to ultimately use them against their neighbor." (58 f.)

Cyprian of Carthage

So how do we ensure more peace in this world? On the one hand, by becoming peaceful ourselves. But also, for example, by exposing contradictions. As the early Christian scholar Cyprian of Carthage did in the third century when he stated:
"Murder is a crime when committed by a single person; but it is honored as a virtue and bravery when committed by many! So it is no longer innocence that ensures impunity, but the greatness of the crime." (69)

Günter Grass

Or by talking to each other, without reservations and accusations, in order to find solutions together. This also applies to big politics. The German writer and Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass, for example, stated back in 2015:
"Lately you keep hearing warnings of a third world war. I sometimes wonder whether it hasn't already begun, in a completely different way than we know from the First and Second World Wars. We are heading for the third great war. There is war everywhere. We are in danger of making the same mistakes as before. Without realizing it, as if we were sleepwalkers, we can go into a new world war. I can only remind you of Willy Brandt's old practice: as long as there are negotiations, the weapons are silent." (44)

Helmut Schmidt

And Brandt's successor as Federal Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, said something similar:
"Better to negotiate for 100 hours for nothing than to shoot for one minute." (54)


It is all the more strange that today's generation of politicians, especially in Germany, hardly want to know anything about it. It probably has something to do not least with the fact that those in power today have not directly experienced war themselves. But at least those who call themselves "Christians" should actually know the words of God's prophet Isaiah, who said:
"Then they will turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. For nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (61)

Jesus of Nazareth

"Swords into plowshares" - that was also the demand of many protesting people in the last years of the GDR. A generation later, Germany is still a leading exporter of weapons of all kinds. And with the words of the prophet of God Isaiah, the words of Jesus of Nazareth, the co-ruler of the heavens, have also been largely forgotten, who said: "Whoever takes up the sword" - including those who supply it - "will perish by the sword".

What will the law of sowing and reaping bring in the end? Man can indeed violate this law, but this does not invalidate it.


But we should not allow ourselves to be depressed by the seriousness of the times. For the words of God's prophet Isaiah are also valid: the words with which he announced a kingdom of peace more than two and a half millennia ago:
"Then the wolf dwells with the lamb, the leopard lies with the little goat. Calf and lion graze together, a little boy can herd them. Cow and bear make friends, their cubs lie together. The lion eats straw like the cow. The baby plays in front of the viper's hole, the child stretches its hand into the snake's den. No more evil is done or crime committed in all My holy mountain, for the land is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water." (51)

Dear readers, I have not even briefly touched on a fifth of the quotations contained in this booklet. But this also shows that you can't read through such a collection of quotations in one go. It's not even possible. Every single sentence is thought-provoking and brings your own experiences and memories back to life. And that is precisely why I can only recommend this booklet.

The text can be quoted as follows:
Journal "Der Theologe", ed. Dieter Potzel, issue no. 122; Matthias Holzbauer, Worte über Krieg und Frieden - eine Buchbesprechung, Wertheim 2023, cited from, version dated 10.12.2023; copyright © and imprint see here.

by John J. Mearsheimer
On the Ukraine War: "The end result will be a frozen conflict"
by John J Mearsheimer, 3/14/24
The West, primarily the USA, will not accept a final peace agreement in which Russia retains a substantial part of Ukrainian territory.
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