The following document is a transcription of a well-known report, which was originally distributed through an independent radio station called "The Far Post". The radio station has been abandoned in the meantime, but recordings of the report still exist and will raise fierce debates across all demographies to this day when mentioned.
To whom it may concern.
To my esteemed colleagues, fellow mechanics, dear kin. There is something we need to talk about. Something that has been swept under the rug, misnarrated, glossed over. I myself was in the dark for a long time, until I met a certain tank, who shall remain anonymous. This tank made me realize that a very close look at a significant part of our past is long overdue. I am fully aware of the possible consequences of publishing the research I conducted, for this topic continues to be a loaded one; but as a historian, I feel that it is my duty to share the knowledge I have acquired through it. I do not make any claims of completeness of my findings, nor do claim that there is one single truth to be discovered. However, our generation and the generations that will follow, deserve to hear a version of the story that is as objective as possible, so they may form their own opinion. In this report, I will critically examine a particular event commonly referred to as the Purge. I will answer the following questions: What happened, if it was justified, and how it affects our society to this day. The content of my report will be structured as follows: First, I will give you a chronological overview of the things that happened before, during, and after the Purge. Then, I will take a closer look at how the contemporary witnesses viewed the event. Finally, I will discuss its legacy. The greatest challenge I had to face during my work was that there are few willing to talk about the event. As someone who did not witness it myself, I had to rely mainly on first-hand accounts of contemporary witnesses and those who claimed to be. There is little written or otherwise recorded evidence available, and like the personal accounts, it must be assumed to follow its respective narrative; an objective evaluation is only possible when one observes and compares the aggregate of evidence. Before we can start any meaningful discussion about the topic, it is vital that we are in the clear about the actual events that took place. While it may seem redundant to list them, all too often I've come across individuals who either recounted them in a highly skewed manner or completely denied them:
"There was no 'purge'. Nothing of the sort happened."Even with how little evidence there is, this claim can be easily refuted. Not only are there visible remnants of the Purge itself, such as slogans and calls to action on for example building walls, billboards, or even personal belongings. There is also the fact that what happened before it is well-known and considered undisputable: The SPGs took over. At about 60 winters, they were in charge. The next thing we know, a year later, is that they no longer were. These two states leave a gap where a transition would be, and a complete change in societal structure in such a short time without any major triggering event must appear highly unlikely to the sensible individual. Hence, we can establish that the Purge happened, and that it was a direct result of the other classes wishing to get rid of the ones who had seized the power. The solution to this wish was one found independently in a couple of places, and then shared across the world.
"They said to us, 'Kill your arty'. They didn't need to say anything else."It was simple and straightforward. But was it justified? I asked this question to many of the vehicles I interviewed. Most answers were unambiguous.
"We only did what was necessary."At some point, I came across one particular interviewee, who had a differing opinion, however:
"There was a need for action. But there was no need for the excessive brutality. No need for a relentless bloodbath. What happened exceeded fighting fire with fire by far."When I asked her how she arrived at this conclusion, she told me a personal story about the SPG who used to be her team's leader before the Purge.
"I don't think he felt any remorse. Even when they killed him, he probably didn't regret a thing. In his mind, he had done nothing wrong. Like the others born during that time, he didn't know anything else. If it hadn't been for the ones who remembered life before their takeover, I think we would still live as their cannon fodder today."She proceeded to explain to me that while of course there were malevolent SPGs, there were many more who meant no harm and that their actions were merely a result of their environment. Questioning another witness about this claim, I earned a shake of his turret.
"But you have to ask yourself, were they really victims? Between the perpetrators and the ones who just watched, I can see no victims."This suggests that not all vehicles thought that the Purge was justified, but there were evidently still enough of those who did to allow the movement to gain such epidemic traction. Of course there was a particular problem with just killing the SPGs indiscriminately. Very few were willing to break the teamkilling rule. A common solution to this dilemma was to simply move the goalposts. I was shown excerpts from written rulebooks, which featured annotations or completely rewritten rules. One of those revisions read:
"And therefore, the rule is changed as follows: One who kills a tank of their own team must be punished."The change may not be immediately obvious. But in the context of the events preceding the Purge, we can observe that a certain disparity had emerged between the classes. As the SPGs started distinguishing themselves as a caste, they did not foresee the scope of such a change in paradigm. Put plainly, they did not anticipate the dangers of establishing themselves as a parallel society. They did not expect that the remaining classes would embrace this concept when the time had come to use it against the SPGs. And then, adding a single clause to the rule was sufficient. If killing a tank of one's team was forbidden, declaring SPGs as something else made them an exception from the rule. Though technically legal, for many vehicles, the killing in practice was still hard to reconcile with their conscience. Like I stated earlier, there were many who had concerns, and the actual number of them is most likely higher than we assumed. A common phrase we hear is:
"Anyone in our situation would have done the same."This seems to contradict what I claimed just now. As I held more interviews however, a much more faceted overall picture started emerging. Not all accounts were as firm. Some could be interpreted as struggling to explain their deeds to themselves, such as this one:
"If they had been there, they would understand. When your people are exploited, used, expendable … You start to hate. Can you really blame us?"Still, these witnesses described the event as justified. But evidently, not everyone shares this sentiment. One of the interviewed individuals, another witness, remembered the aftermath of the killing:
"Afterwards, there were no trials or anything. Not even for the most cruel, most unrepentant of them. Some of the others - the ones who realized what they had done - convinced themselves of various excuses. It was the only way for them to live with the guilt."Upon further analysis based on this account, witnesses feeling guilt about their participation in the Purge indeed turned out to be a more common occurrence than previously estimated. Many of the interviewed individuals held a markedly dissociated view of the events; the view of a bystander, instead of a participant. This may, in many cases, be a subconscious effort to distance oneself from the perceived atrocities that were committed. I could observe an example of this behaviour during one of the interviews. The witness communicated a strictly generalized perspective. At the end of the short interview, however, they unexpectedly shared a personal story, after all.
"She was … a valuable teammate. Always did her best to help us. Was well liked. I didn't know they'd kill so many of them … I thought, it was only the bad ones."This view seemed to support my theory of suppressed guilt being a repeating theme. I approached a group of witnesses next who had only agreed on participating under the condition that I interviewed them together. When I relayed the previous interview to them together with my theory, one of them became very agitated.
"There is no such thing as a 'good' arty. Some of them play nice, but if they got another chance, none of them would think twice."One of the other group members added:
"Arty sympathizers, the only thing almost as bad as arty. Why did we leave them alive?"If we look at this group, and keep in mind that they have the majority on their side, it becomes obvious why guilty individuals are hesitant to state their opinions openly. Thus, my research suggests that there is not a lack of remorse, but rather a taboo to express it. It is also worth mentioning in this context that there were participants even among the SPGs' own kind. This is seldom talked about, but it also came up with the aforementioned group:
"Trying to make amends, I guess. Not that it worked, in most cases. Really, it was very pathetic … disgusting … if you think about it."But what were the true reasons? They were most certainly manifold. Only one anonymous survivor was willing to share an insight into the other side:
"We were scared. We thought that if we helped, they might let us live."This was, however, still an exception to the norm. The more common way to avoid the same fate as the others was a different one:
"They gave me a simple choice. Be killed, or switch. Many others didn't get to choose."In conclusion, we can only say that the question whether the Purge was justified in its entirety or partly can only be answered by the individual for themselves. We can make more definite statements about the effects the event had on our society to this day. It remains to be seen if artillery will ever be able to repair their reputation. They themselves have their new role ingrained in them, even the ones who were constructed long after the Purge, thanks to the other classes perpetuating a hostile mindset towards the SPGs as a whole. It was such a fundamental shift in a whole class' image and treatment, with such drastic consequences, that even members of the other classes observe it with concern.
"Just makes me worry sometimes. Insane, if you think about it. How readily we turned on them. Makes you wonder who the lynch mob's coming for next, you know?"The final question we should thus ask ourselves is, how can we prevent something like this from happening again? How can we avoid another social imbalance that could lead to such fatal results? The answer is very simple. We must not forget. Machinekind has learned a lesson during the Purge, and it is of greatest importance that we remember it. Much of this knowledge has already been lost. Much more will be lost if we do not make serious efforts to preserve and reconstruct it. We forget all too easily. And once we do, history will repeat itself. This concludes my report. Thank you for your attention. Faithfully,
Unlike his other research work, which never really got much attention, his publication about the Purge raised much interest and controversy. No one else before had scrutinized the topic in such depth and objectivity.
Despite emphasising repeatedly that he was not taking a stance either way, he was frequently accused of siding with the artillery in this matter.
Though the actual circumstances are unknown, it is assumed that he died a few years after publishing his report. Some claim that he didn't actually die, but rather assumed a new identity to avoid further backlash. In any case, no further works by him are known.