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The Photograph... [2] .. Origins

Ytte Skovlund's picture
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The old Sargeant puffed on his pipe. Years of warring had made him immune to the jarring concussion of nearby explosions. Each detonation made the younger of his charges wince and duck. He watched the fear in some eyes. 

He occasionally, and casually brushed the falling dirt from his uniform pants at it fell from the sky. Presently he stood up, turned and took a glance over the parapet for just a few seconds. His veteran  eyes looked out over the flat land, through the mist of thick rain toward the enemy trenches. 

Unperturbed, he sat back down, took a long toke from his pipe and spoke quietly to his squad.

  "Don't fear my children. die Dänen are hopeful. But they can't hit even a barn the way they are going. Sit. Eat! .  Pretty soon we're going to have a stroll over there and show them how we Prussians do things.. Properly."

The Sargeant puffed twice more on his pipe before his war weary eyes turned to his Leutnant.

 " And today.. You.. Mein kleiner Offizier Mädchen.... Today you are going to wonder what in hell you decided to leave your colour box and laces behind for. Huh?"

Ytte stared back with angry eyes. Reminding him he was talking to an Officer.

 "Ach ! nevermind Mädchen... You are going to bloody the fox today whatever happens. Just don't forget.. These kind of foxes are shooting back.. Keep your pretty head down . "

" Alte.." Ytte scowled at the oaken features of the old Sargeants face. " I will lead from the front like my father did. You followed him against Napoleon did you not?"

Ytte sat upright, she summoned all her tuetonic bearing. Head straight, shoulders back. She removed her shako, as she did so, the pair of blonde plaits fell down each side of her head.  She looked at the large silver totenkopf on the front. She wiped a few traces dirt of the badge with her glove, made it shine. She looked at the insignia then to Alte. The Old Sargeant looked back at the determination in her eyes.

"Are you with me?"  Ytte addressed the sargeant directly and the rest of the squad indirectly. She stood up to her full 1.6 meter height. The younger boys in her squad looked at her cold Prussian demeanour She showed no fear. Some felt embarassed by thier own fear. 

She turned then to address the rest. Her voice was just that of a girl, but it rang strongly. She summoned all her strength and resoluteness.

 "Are you with me ?..Ein und Alle! Because you WILL be following me. You will follow me and WE going to show ..die Dänen... over there..  Just how Prussian steel tastes, Just how Prussian lead can fly.  Are YOU with ME?"

At once, the men and boys stood straight and shouted as one

" Jawohl ! "

Ytte clicked her heels and saluted them. A diciplined smile on her lips. In her mind she felt relief that they actually would follow a woman into battle, even if she had just shamed them a little to do it.

Slowly, Alte got to his feet also, and saluted. clicking his heels in true Prussian style. He smiled a wry smile. He could see her father in her eyes.

" Gott mit Uns !... Jawohl !"


The air filled with thunder, smoke and flying metal. Geysers of mud erupted here there and every direction. Eleven thousand men howled as they ran accross the flat muddy Southern Danish field. Shell craters filled with brown water, filled more now with blood and body parts. 

Eleven Thousand men howled, and some screamed. Some screamed with fear, some screamed with pain. It was the morning of 18 April 1864.

Ytte ran on, urging her men forward. Her father's sabre in her hand gave her courage. She waved it high, taking strength. Showing those who followed her that she would do as she said and lead them into battle, from the front.

And she ran forward, the cloying Danish mud grabbing at her boots. The Prussians had immense superiority. the Danes were only half thier number. This would be a great victory. How proud would her father be. How vindicated she would be... 

Keep going. Onward. Two Hundred meters.

Ytte stumbled, the mud slipped under her foot. She felt as if she was about to fall. But instead she felt a strong arm on her shoulder, steadying her, helping her regain her feet. She turned and found herself looking at Alte's craggy face. A craggy face which still had a that damned wry grin.

  "Come on Mein kleiner Mädchen.... Today's the day huh?  we dont want to keep die Dänen waiting... "

Ytte grinned and nodded. They ran forwards once more, The Sargeant had given her support. In more ways than one.

One hundred meters.  The gunfire, the cannons roared even more. Ytte yelled out to her men, the cacophonous sounds filled her head. She felt her heart beating anvil like in her chest..She grimaced, and ran on with her men, all yelling and screaming..  Fifty meters now..   We will show them how Prussian steel..........

Half a second later, without the slightest moment between.  Ytte stumbled naked into a strange hot room.....


Engel's picture

(( Huh? That's unusual, but I wouldn't want to read something mundane on the other hand. Looking forward for more!

By the way, for anyone interested, totenkopf (skull and bones symbol) changed meanings throughout the ages. Initially it was a symbol of a defiance of death but during Third Reich and in some nationaly oriented secret societies of the time a new meaning was established: "The Skull is the reminder that you shall always be willing to put your self at stake for the life of the whole community."

 Looking forward for more! ))

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Subdane's picture

*Straightens his Danish shoulders, taking up firing position*
((Interesting so far, and a vivid scene. :) 

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