The war became his home. The war became his wide and bloody home. He moved from one sector to another. He came to peaceful territory, set villages on fire, left the debris of smaller and larger towns behind him, and mourning women, orphaned children, beaten, hanged, and murdered men. He turned about, learnt the suspense of flight before the enemy, took last-minute revenge on supposed traitors, destroyed bridges, roads, railways, obeyed and commanded, and all with equal relish. He was the bravest officer in his regiment. He led patrols with the caution and cunning of a beast of prey out for booty, and with the confident daring of a foolish man to whom his life means nothing. He drove his timorous peasants to the attack with pistol and whip, but fired the brave ones with his own example. -He was first into everything. In the art of invisible motion, when, masked by trees, shrubs, or undergrowth, covered by darkness or wrapped in the mists of dawn, he would steal upon barbed-wire barricades to the undoing of the enemy, he was unequalled. He never needed to look at any map; his whetted senses divined the secrets of every territory. Muffled and distant sounds came clearly to his ears. His watchful eye caught every suspicious movement. His certain hand went out, shot, and never missed its mark, held what it grasped, came down without mercy upon backs and faces, shut to a fist with cruel knuckles, but opened readily to the pressure of comradeship, answering it with warmth and steel.
Joseph Roth, trans. Winifred Katzin