Quotes on War

War has had devastating responses from the dawn of human history. Hundreds of millions of people have lost their lives due to it and, generations after generations have suffered the psychological effects that war has heaped on their nations and families. 

Below are a series of thoughts, short excerpts and quotes that come from those directly involved, influenced and affected by war. In some cases, the passages are taken out of context, but the message still remains. In other cases, the words fit the moment. A list of possible activities to experience using this section follows.

Activities: Reacting to the Words of Others 
  1. Create a commonplace book. Commonplace books have their origin in the Renaissance as one means of coping with the information overload of that era. They helped people select, organize, classify, and remember key moral precepts. Today Commonplace Books are used to record reflections, ideas, and information that needs to be experienced and remembered. Select a number of thoughts, excerpts and quotes from the following pages and write your own reflections for each. Consider illustrating your reflections with photographs, posters, paintings, or political cartoons. Even better, create your own illustrations. 
  2. Design posters. Select one or more of the quotes and design a poster that can be used to convey a message you want to give to others. The design can be to commemorate a particular war or can be used to support your concern about current events. 
  3. Reader’s Theater. Use the material here to either create a reader’s theater or to incorporate the thoughts, excerpts and quotes into a single production. Similar to a play, a reader’s theater has a number of parts and can involve staging and music. Scenery is basic, if any is used. Often the stage is dark and a narrator introduces the script. A reader’s theater can be written by an individual or several people can work on it simultaneously. Research can be conducted on war generally, or a specific war, such as those named in the previous section. Write descriptive paragraphs on the theme. Combine the historical events with poetry and other writings found in this module, including using quotes. The narrative script is written to weave the entire production together. Other themes may be a play written from one country’s perspective, through the eyes of a warrior, expressions of feelings from individuals misplaced by the war, or thoughts expressed by those who remained on the home front. There can be a number of different roles written into the piece. A single voice or two could be used to describe events, and different parts can be given to those who read poetry, excerpts from diaries, or quotes. Often the narrator’s role is the must substantial.  
  4. Staging multiple productions. Several Reader’s Theaters could be written and staged during a commemorative event that includes poetry and other writings, the culmination of studying about a particular war, or as an event that looks at war generally or as a global phenomenon. Don’t forget to create a playbill announcing your Reader’s Theater event. A program booklet complete with background on the presentation and the actors can also be prepared.




Battles are sometimes won by generals; wars are nearly always won by sergeants and privates. .-- F.E. Adcock
Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent. .-- Isaac Asimov
The purpose of all war is peace. .-- Saint Augustine 
I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them. .-- Clara Barton
No more wars, no more bloodshed. Peace unto you. Shalom, salaam, forever..-- Menachem Begin

To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war..-- Napoleon Bonaparte

In war there is no prize for the runner-up.-- General Omar Bradley 

The Imperial German Government will not expect the Government of the United States to omit any word or any act necessary to the performance of its sacred duty of maintaining the rights of the United States and its citizens and of safeguarding their free exercise and enjoyment. .-- William Jennings Bryan
Laws are inoperative in war..-- Marcus Tullius Cicero

When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.-- Winston Churchill

War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military..-- Georges Clemenceau

I don't know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace is an interlude during war..-- Georges Clemenceau

I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. .-- Albert Einstein

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity..-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.-- Desiderius Erasmus
The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just war..-- Desiderius Erasmus
The God of War hates those who hesitate. .-- Euripides 

The essence of war is violence.  Moderation in war is imbecility. .-- Lord John Fisher

Si vis pacem, para bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war!).-- Flavius Vegetius Renatus 

Never has there been a good war or a bad peace..-- Benjamin Franklin

It is war that shapes peace, and armament that shapes war..-- Thomas Fuller 

Either war is obsolete or men are.-- R. Buckminster Fuller
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy? .-- Gandhi
I think that technologies are morally neutral until we apply them. It's only when we use them for good or for evil that they become good or evil. .-- William Gibson

Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. .-- Hermann Goering

He who stays on the defensive does not make war, he endures it..-- Field Marshal Colmar Baron von der Goltz

If men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail..-- Ulysses S. Grant
Instead of building newer and larger weapons of mass destruction, I think mankind should try to get more use out of the ones we have. .-- Jack Handey 
Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime. .-- Ernest Hemingway 

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason. .-- Ernest Hemingway

War is the mother of everything. .-- Heraclitus

In peace sons bury fathers, but war violates the order of nature, and fathers bury sons. .-- Heroditus 
In war, only the simple succeeds..-- Field Marshal Paul Von Hindenburg
All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere? .-- Emperor Hirohito 
I think that, as life is action and passion, it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.-- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.  
Zeus most glorious and most great, Thundercloud, throned in the heavens! Let not the sun go down and the darkness come, until I cast down headlong the citadel of Priam in flames, and burn his gates with blazing fire, and tear to rags the shirt upon Hectors breast! May many of his men fall about him prone in the dust and bite the earth! .-- Homer 
Older men declare war.  But it’s the youth who must fight and die! .-- Herbert Hoover
Here dead lie we because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life to be sure, is nothing much to lose;
But young men think it is, and we were young.
-- A. E. Housman 
Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. .-- Martin Luther King, Jr.
It is well that war is so terrible, else we should grow too fond of it..-- General Robert E. Lee
When we say ‘War is over if you want it,’ we mean that if everyone demanded peace instead of another TV set, we'd have peace.-- John Lennon
Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure. If today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.'.-- Abraham Lincoln 
The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.-- Robert Lynd  
I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in. .-- George McGovern 

Peace hath her victories, no less renowned than War.-- John Milton

War is an art and as such is not susceptible of explanation by fixed formula.-- General George Patton Jr.

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.  -- General George Patton, Jr.

Only the dead have seen the end of war..-- Plato

Anyone, who truly wants to go to war, has never truly been there before! .-- Larry Reeves 

We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk. .-- Eleanor Roosevelt
War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it, the crueler it is the sooner it will be over..-- William Tecumseh Sherman
Wars are not acts of God. They are caused by man, by man-made institutions, by the way in which man has organized his society. What man has made, man can change.-- Frederick Moore Vinson  
War is the continuation of politics by other means..-- Karl Von Clausewitz 
Once and for all the idea of glorious victories won by the glorious army must be wiped out. Neither side is glorious. On either side they're just frightened men messing their pants and they all want the same thing - not to lie under the earth, but to walk upon it - without crutches. .-- Peter Weiss 
Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind. .-- General William Westmoreland
The art of war is, in the last result, the art of keeping one’s freedom of action..-- Xenophon