Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hussars: The Protectors of the Amoeba

The hussars were the elite calvary of Poland between 1570s-1776.  Their infamous 'wings' were created by attaching a wooden frame consisting of eagle, ostrich, swan, or goose feathers to the back of the soldier, which gave them the image of an angel in battle. There has been many theories as to why they wore these wings. The most popular theory states that the wings created a loud, clattering noise that made the army seem much larger than they truly were, and resulted in the other calvaries horses to become frightened. Others speculate that the wings were used to help defend the backs of the men against swords, or that they were worn to make their horses deaf to the wooden noise makers used by the Ottoman soldiers.

In relation to The Tin Drum, the Post Office defenders are similarly embodying the image of these hussars. This small militia of common postmen rise to defend themselves against the German regime. They call themselves "uhlan" many times throughout the novel, and as we began to discuss the hussars in class, I began to envision these men as blazing warriors on horses, rising to defend their beloved country. However, as I thought back to Jan, Vincent, and Koybella I had to realize that these people were just normal, everyday people; they had no interest to engage in war.  Even though the book recounts the event very accurately, we do not see how the postmen actually feel during the event until we are given the opportunity through Oskar's perspective. At the end of the chapter the surviving postmen surrender to the SS soldiers. As depicted in the photo above, it's safe to assume that Jan and the other survivors were killed in a similar manner. Although they might not have been blazing hussars on horseback, their spirit remained the same.

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