PART ONE (of SIX)
of an extended commentary on the book
A Peasant Chronicle of the Thirty Years War
by Hermann Löns
as translated by Robert Kvinnesland
There is one statement in the "cover story" of this book that I do not agree with:
The words "he has a choice between compromising his morals or succumbing to inevitable torture and death" do not ring true to me, having read the book. Harm Wulf has a horse stolen and the thief, because he has some rank in his army, humiliates him when he asks for it back. When he sees the man again he shoots him directly in the face with buckshot. That is not a reaction to a threat of torture or death. Later in the story Harm Wulf objects to a leader of the Wehrwulf indiscriminately killing, and seeming to enjoy it. His protest is quite mild, however, and he kills many in defense of his compatriots and their families and farms as time goes on. Only at the very end does he finally take a prisoner, a young German conscripted into the Swedish army unit he has just defeated. He takes him home, and as the war finally ends the boy becomes his best farmhand.
Where did this tale take place? In the heathlands of what is now, but was not then, northern Germany. The landscape figures prominently in the story, since it is by luring their would-be tormenters into the bogs via narrow paths that they, armed farmers, can take advantage of a column of professional soldiers by ambush and coordinated crossfire when they are confined to a narrow path.
I will show several photos of the Naturpark Sudheide near Hannover and north of Celles first, to give a look at the lay of the land. There are more photos to choose from at this website (click here):
In the same area, and with some bog and water features that are mentioned in the Löns book, there is also the Lüneburger Naturpark (click to go there)
Löns grave is in this land of his dreams and nightmares (click here to go to photo and a description). This what it looks like, with the mark of the wolf on it:
The website describes this grave marker in these words:
A simple inscription says “Here lies Herman Löns”. A Wolfsangel, (wolf's hook), adorns his grave. In 1910 Löns published “Der Wehr Wolf” set in a farming community during the 30 years War, where the main character, Harm Wolf, adopts the Wolfsangel as a mark against the occupying forces. The Wolfsangel originated as a mason's symbol, and can be seen in stone works of the 13th to 16th century. It was modified by an additional central stroke, and adopted by a number of military units of the Third Reich.
Wilhelm Asche was a friend and fellow poet, and he was instrumental in bringing Löns’ remains back to the rural area where he grew up and that they both loved and wrote about. Other websites say his family arranged for his burial here, but since Asche was working with Löns’ first wife, maybe both statements are true. Hitler was said to have requested that his remains be buried near his home, and maybe he just leaned on the family to get it done. He was enamored with this Wehrwulf book that he named his Ukrainian secret headquarters the Wehrwulf.
The translation pictured above is The Warwolf, A Peasant Chronicle of the Thirty Years War by Hermann Löns, Translated by Robert Kvinnesland (Westholme Publishing, 2006). The book is 198 pages long, so the version passed out in the Netherlands, with 19 pages of text, represents about 10% of the original and does not tell anywhere near the whole story.
More on page two.
Go to Part Two of Six
Go to Part Three of Six
Go to Part Four of Six
Go to Part Five of Six
Go to Part Six of Six
Go to the Wehrwolf story pages for which this series of pages is an extended commentary
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