Like many intellectuals and artists, Ernst Barlach (1870–1938) shared the masses’ enthusiasm for war. He hoped the war would thoroughly transform the rigid social relationships of the time and encourage reflection on intellectual questions. Despite this attitude, even at the beginning of the war he was a precise artistic observer who thought deeply about the horrifying effects of what was happening on the front. This conception of a warrior wielding a sword goes back to a drawing of the apocalypse from 1912. As in that drawing, The Avenger, with his upper body leaning far forward, seems to defy the laws of gravity. The sharp-edged geometric shapes that make up the figure show that Barlach had made a study of the new organizing principles of Cubism and Futurism. The avenger’s long coat is made up of triangles. Their edges look like rays directed towards his face, which gives the figure a dynamic forward motion. In contrast to the aggressive energy of the body, the expression on his face indicates thoughtful hesitation rather than determination.