Sunday, May 2, 2010


The Silence of 1915 occurred on September 7 and embraced Western Europe and the countries from the Baltic in the north to the Balkans in the south. Since it was unforeseen, no accounts of it exist. Many failed to even perceive it, fleeting and incidental as it was, and this despite their own participation in it. There was no question of recalcitrance, neither was there time. The silence occurred, catching Europe between two breaths and with one leg aloft, as it were, whereupon everything and everyone carried on as though nothing had happened. How indeed should one have known that the silence one so unwittingly upheld embraced all of Europe? Naturally, it might have been made the subject of discussion immediately following its occurrence, but since its few witnesses were unreasonably distributed – many lived far from civilised parts, in regions where silence already was their confidant – the subject was quickly changed. The news media, who besides participating in the event also received incredulous enquiries concerning it, realised immediately that it would be impossible to verify and might therefore lead to most anything at all, and hushed it up. He who seeks information about the event is even now, so many years after, at a loss. A Bulgarian agronomical journal mentions it in a subclause in the context of an article on watermills in the north-eastern provinces, and the pseudonym Ludwig Renn treats the phenomenon with ill-bestowed irony in his novel of 1936, Vor Grossen Wandlungen. It should also be noted that in France in 1921 initiative was taken to repeat the event on its 6th anniversary, though this remained but a local enterprise, betrayed by a dog in Containcourt and pigeons in Honfleur.

(extract of sample translation)

© Per Højholt & Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag A/S, 2001
Translation © Martin Aitken, 2010

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