SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVEOR THE CHILDREN'SCRUSADEA Duty-dance with DeathKURT VONNEGUT, JR.[NAL Release #21][15 jan 2001 – OCR errors removed – v1]A fourth-generation German-Americannow living in easy circumstanceson Cape Cod[and smoking too much],who, as an American infantry scouthors de combat,as a prisoner of war,witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany,'The Florence of the Elbe,'a long time ago,and survived to tell the tale.This is a novelsomewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenicmanner of talesof the planet Tralfamadore,where the flying saucerscome from.Peace.
Granada Publishing LimitedPublished in 1972 by Panther Books LtdFrogmore, St Albans, Herts AL2 2NFReprinted 1972, 1973 (twice), 1974, 1975First published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape Ltd 1970Copyright (D Kurt Vonnegut Jr. 1969Made and printed in Great Britain byRichard Clay (The Chaucer Press) LtdBungy, SuffolkSet in Linotype PlantinThis book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise,be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent inany form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similarcondition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.This book is published at a net price and is supplied subject to the Publishers AssociationStandard Conditions of Sale registered under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1956.Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint the following material:'The Waking': copyright 1953 by Theodore Roethke fromTHE COLLECTED POEMS OF THEODORE ROETHKEprinted by permission of Doubleday & Company, Inc.THE DESTRUCTION OF DRESDEN by David Irving:From the Introduction by Ira C. Eaker, Lt. Gen. USAF (RET.) and Foreword by AirMarshall Sir Robert Saundby. Copyright 1963 by William Kimber and Co. Limited.Reprinted by permission of Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc. and William Kimber andCo. Limited.'Leven Cent Cotton' by Bob Miller and Emma Dermer: Copyright 1928, 1929 by MCAMusic, a Division of MCA Inc. Copyright renewed 1955,1956 and assigned to MCAMusic, a division of MCA Inc. Used by permission.
forMary O’HareandGerhard Müller
The cattle are lowing,The Baby awakes,But the little Lord JesusNo crying He makes.
OneAll this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. One guy Iknew really was shot in Dresden for taking a teapot that wasn't his. Another guy I knewreally did threaten to have his personal enemies killed by hired gunmen after the war.And so on. I've changed all the names.I really did go back to Dresden with Guggenheim money (God love it) in 1967. Itlooked a lot like Dayton, Ohio, more open spaces than Dayton has. There must be tons ofhuman bone meal in the ground.I went back there with an old war buddy, Bernard V. O'Hare, and we made friendswith a taxi driver, who took us to the slaughterhouse where we had been locked up atnight as prisoner of war. His name was Gerhard Müller. He told us that he was a prisonerof the Americans for a while. We asked him how it was to live under Communism, andhe said that it was terrible at first, because everybody had to work so hard, and becausethere wasn't much shelter or food or clothing. But things were much better now. He had apleasant little apartment, and his daughter was getting an excellent education. His motherwas incinerated in the Dresden fire-storm. So it goes.He sent O'Hare a postcard at Christmastime, and here is what it said:'I wish you and your family also as to your friend Merry Christmas and a happy NewYear and I hope that we'll meet again in a world of peace and freedom in the taxi cab ifthe accident will.'I like that very much: 'If the accident will.'I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety andtime. When I got home from the Second World War twenty-three years ago, I thought itwould be easy for me to write about the destruction of Dresden, since all I would have todo would be to report what I had seen. And I thought, too, that it would be a masterpieceor at least make me a lot of money, since the subject was so big.But not many words about Dresden came from my mind then-not enough of them tomake a book, anyway. And not many words come now, either, when I have become anold fart with his memories and his Pall Malls, with his sons full grown. I think of howuseless the Dresden-part of my memory has been, and yet how tempting Dresden hasbeen to write about, and I am reminded of the famous limerick:There was a young man from Stamboul,Who soliloquized thus to his tool,'You took all my wealthAnd you ruined my health,And now you won't pee, you old fool’And I'm reminded, too, of the song that goesMy name is Yon Yonson,I work in Wisconsin,I work in a lumbermill there.The people I meet when I walk down the street,They say, 'What's your name?
And I say,‘My name is Yon Yonson,I work in Wisconsin.And so on to infinity.Over the years, people I've met have often asked me what I'm working on, and I'veusually replied that the main thing was a book about Dresden.I said that to Harrison Starr, the movie-maker, one time, and he raised his eyebrowsand inquired, 'Is it an anti-war book?''Yes,' I said. 'I guess.''You know what I say to people when I hear they're writing anti-war books?''No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?''I say, "Why don't you write an anti-glacier book instead?"'What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easyto stop as glaciers. I believe that too.And, even if wars didn't keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.When I was somewhat younger, working on my famous Dresden book, I asked an oldwar buddy named Bernard V. O'Hare if I could come to see him. He was a districtattorney in Pennsylvania. I was a writer on Cape Cod. We had been privates in the war,infantry scouts. We had never expected to make any money after the war, but we weredoing quite well.I had the Bell Telephone Company find him for me. They are wonderful that way. Ihave this, disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I getdrunk, and I drive my wife away with a breath like mustard gas and roses. And then,speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators toconnect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years.I got O'Hare on the line in this way. He is short and I am tall. We were Mutt and Jeff inthe war. We were captured together in the war. I told him who I was on the telephone. Hehad no trouble believing it. He was up. He was reading. Everybody else in his house wasasleep.'Listen,' I said, 'I'm writing this book about Dresden. I'd like some help rememberingstuff. I wonder if I could come down and see you, and we could drink and talk andremember.'He was unenthusiastic. He said he couldn't remember much. He told me, though, tocome ahead.'I think the climax of the book will be the execution of poor old Edgar Derby,' I said.'The irony is so great. A whole city gets burned down, and thousands and thousands ofpeople are killed. And then this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins fortaking a teapot. And he's given a regular trial, and then he's shot by a firing squad.''Um,' said O'Hare.'Don't you think that's really where the climax should come?' 'I don't know anythingabout it,' he said. 'That's your trade, not mine.'
As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue andsuspense and confrontations, I had outlined the Dresden story many times. The bestoutline I ever made, or anyway the prettiest one, was on the back of a roll of wallpaper.I used my daughter's crayons, a different color for each main character. One end of thewallpaper was the beginning of the story, and the other end was the end, and then therewas all that middle part, which was the middle. And the blue line met the red line andthen the yellow line, and the yellow line stopped because the character represented by theyellow line was dead. And so on. The destruction of Dresden was represented by avertical band of orange cross-hatching, and all the lines that were still alive passedthrough it, came out the other side.The end, where all the lines stopped, was a beetfield on the Elbe, outside of Halle. Therain was coming down. The war in Europe had been over for a couple of weeks. We wereformed in ranks, with Russian soldiers guarding us-Englishmen, Americans, Dutchmen,Belgians, Frenchmen, Canadians, South Africans, New Zealanders, Australians,thousands of us about to stop being prisoners of war.And on the other side of the field were thousands of Russians and Poles andYugoslavians and so on guarded by American soldiers. An exchange was made there inthe rain-one for one. O'Hare and I climbed into the back of an American truck with a lotof others. O'Hare didn't have any souvenirs. Almost everybody else did. I had aceremonial Luftwaffe saber, still do. The rabid little American I call Paul Lazzaro in thisbook had about a quart of diamonds and emeralds and rubies and so on' He had takenthese from dead people in the cellars of Dresden.' So it goes.An idiotic Englishman, who had lost all his teeth somewhere had his souvenir in acanvas bag. The bag was resting on my insteps. He would peek into the bag every nowand then, and he would roll his eyes and swivel his scrawny neck,, trying to catch peoplelooking covetously at his bag. And he would bounce the bag on my insteps.I thought this bouncing was accidental. But I was mistaken. He had to show somebodywhat was in the bag, and he had decided he could trust me. He caught my eye, winked,opened the bag. There was a plaster model of the Eiffel Tower in there. It was paintedgold. It had a clock in it.'There's a smashin' thing,' he said.And we were flown to a rest camp in France, where we were fed chocolate maltedmilkshakes and other rich foods until we were all covered with baby fat. Then we weresent home, and I married a pretty girl who was covered with baby fat, too.And we had babies.And they're all grown up now, and I'm an old fart with his memories and his PallMalls. My name is Yon Yonson, I work in Wisconsin, I work in a lumbermill there.Sometimes I try to call up old girl friends on the telephone late at night, after my wifehas gone to bed. 'Operator, I wonder if you could give me the number of a Mrs. So-andSo. I think she lives at such-and-such.''I'm sorry, sir. There is no such listing.''Thanks, Operator. Thanks just the same.'And I let the dog out or I let him in, and we talk some. I let him know I like him, andhe lets me know he likes me. He doesn't mind the smell of mustard gas and roses.'You're all right, Sandy, I'll say to the dog. 'You know that, Sandy? You're O.K.'
Sometimes I'll turn on the radio and listen to a talk program from Boston or New York.I can't stand recorded music if I've been drinking a good deal.Sooner or later I go to bed, and my wife asks me what time it is. She always has toknow the time. Sometimes I don't know, and I say, 'Search me.'I think about my education sometimes. I went to the University of Chicago for a whileafter the Second World War. I was a student in the Department of Anthropology. At thattime, they were teaching that there was absolutely no difference between anybody. Theymay be teaching that still.Another thing they taught was that nobody was ridiculous or bad or disgusting. Shortlybefore my father died, he said to me, 'You know-you never wrote a story with a villain init.'I told him that was one of the things I learned in college after the war.While I was studying to be an anthropologist, I was also working as a police reporterfor the famous Chicago City News Bureau for twenty-eight dollars a week. One time theyswitched me from the night shift to the day shift., so I worked sixteen hours straight. Wewere supported by all the newspapers in town, and the AP and the UP and all that. Andwe would cover the courts and the police stations and the Fire Department and the CoastGuard out on Lake Michigan and all that. We were connected to the institutions thatsupported us by means of pneumatic tubes which ran under the streets of Chicago.Reporters would telephone in stories to writers wearing headphones, and the writerswould stencil the stories on mimeograph sheets. The stories were mimeographed andstuffed into the brass and velvet cartridges which the pneumatic tubes ate. The verytoughest reporters and writers were women who had taken over the jobs of men who'dgone to war.And the first story I covered I had to dictate over the telephone to one of those beastlygirls. It was about a young veteran who had taken a job running an old-fashioned elevatorin an office building. The elevator door on the first floor was ornamental iron lace. Ironivy snaked in and out of the holes. There was an iron twig with two iron lovebirdsperched upon it.This veteran decided to take his car into the basement, and he closed the door andstarted down, but his wedding ring Was caught in all the ornaments. So he was hoistedinto the air and the floor of the car went down, dropped out from under him, and the topof the car squashed him. So it goes.So I phoned this in, and the woman who was going to cut the stencil asked me. 'Whatdid his wife say?''She doesn't know yet,' I said. 'It just happened.''Call her up and get a statement.''What?''Tell her you're Captain Finn of the Police Department. Say you have some sad news.Give her the news, and see what she says.'So I did. She said about what you would expect her to say. There was a baby. And soon.When I got back to the office, the woman writer asked me, just for her owninformation, what the squashed guy had looked Eke when he was squashed.
I told her.'Did it bother you?' she said. She was eating a Three Musketeers Candy Bar.'Heck no, Nancy,' I said. 'I've seen lots worse than that in the war.'Even then I was supposedly writing a book about Dres
CRUSADE A Duty-dance with Death KURT VONNEGUT, JR. [NAL Release #21] [15 jan 2001 – OCR errors removed – v1] A fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod [and smoking too much], who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, 'The Florence of the Elbe,' a long time ago, and