The silence spreads. I talk and must talk.
So I speak to him and say to him: “Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too.
But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction I stabbed. But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me.
I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late.
Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony — forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy?
From the screenplay of Lewis Milestone’s All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)