Imagine a train. Not one of these electric ones like we have now, but an old-fashioned steam train huffing and puffing its way along a long, cross-country track. Through Holland. Through Germany. Stopped at a station in the middle of nowhere, no civilians anyway, just full of soldiers with guns and hard hearts, as hard as the expression in their flint-grey eyes. They forced the travellers to dismount.
A long, weary, ragged procession started to move. About half way along was a woman with her baby son in her arms. He could only have been about one year old, perhaps a little more, perhaps a little less. As the endless march along dusty roads continues, he started to cry, and desperately she tried to hush him.
"Shh, little one," the woman whispered. She herself could not have been older than nineteen. "Shh, or we will all be punished." And for a little while he was quiet. They continued to walk, bare feet or feet clad in broken shoes aching and sore, blisters and cuts filled with the dust from the road. No breaks for food, no toilet stops. When a girl stumbled they left her behind; her family looked back as they heard a shot, and there she was, falling into the gutter, another body in the endless war.
There were children with them. The youngest, aside from the baby in his mother's arms, would have been around five years old. She had heavy brown hair and dark eyes like pools of inky blood, eyes that had seen too much; her dress, a thin slip of a thing even when it wasn't filled with rips, was a disgrace, and her stockings had slipped down to reveal bony legs, like those of a skeleton.
As the fourth hour of their walk approached and they still had not been fed, the baby again started to cry. This time, it was louder, and he would not be hushed, and the guards came over. "Make him shut up."
The woman tried. "Please, little one, for me..." She held him closer, rocked him, tried to soothe him, but he would not be quiet. "Oh, please, just be quiet. Just hush." The words did nothing. He didn't understand.
Harsh as ever, and now perhaps more than ever before, the guards snatched him from his mother's arms. "No!" she shrieked. "Give him back. Give him back to me. He's my son!"
The road passed between two large areas of trees, and on one side was a high brick wall. On the other side was the train track. Laughing, the guard that held the child started to swing him around. And around. And around. The boy screamed -- cried -- called out for his mother and for salvation, but nobody heard that could help. The guard got faster.
As he turned, the man was moving ever closer to the wall. With one powerful stroke, he had smashed the little boy's head into the wall, and the baby was killed instantly. Not content with such an atrocity, the guard then jumped on the tiny body, causing his mother even more distress. "No!" she cried again. "That's my son, my only son, my first son, no..."
She tried to run over but they stopped her, holding her arms behind her back as she struggled, tears running down her streaks and kerchief coming off, so that her hair was peeking out. "My son! Oh, my son, my son, my son..."
A nameless child, killed in unnecessary, cruel, thoughtless violence. A nameless mother, grieving until the end of her life, until the whites of her eyes were red from the tears. And a nameless guard, stained with guilt for all eternity.