A Marvelous First World War Study

Christopher Clark at The Guardian:

By the first week of March 1915, food supplies inside the besieged fortress of Przemyśl were almost exhausted. Most of the horses that could be spared had been eaten. Bran, sawdust and bone meal were used to eke out the dwindling stock of flour. Cats were nowhere to be seen – they too had been eaten. A middle-sized dog fetched 20 crowns, if its owner could be persuaded to part with it. Even mice were being traded. The hospital was filled to overflowing with collapsing people. As one of the doctors tending them observed, the most shocking thing about the starving was their indifference to their fate. “They silently and without complaint accept a cold place in the hospital, drink the slop which passes here for tea; the next day, they are moved to the morgue.”

One of the marvels of Alexander Watson’s study of the bitter struggle for the fortress in 1914-1915 is his juxtaposition of magisterial technical analysis with scenes of timeless misery.

more here.