Wozzeck (pronounced ‘votsek’) is Alban Berg‘s first opera. Composed between 1914 and 1922, and first performed in 1925, it is based on an unfinished drama by Karl Georg Büchner (which in turn was based on the real-life case-history of Johann Christian Woyzeck, a soldier executed in 1824 for the murder of his mistress while suffering from paranoia and hallucinations). When Berg saw the first production of the play in 1914, he immediately knew he wanted to set it to music.
Büchner’s play is actually called Woyzeck (after the historical man mentioned above), but due to an incorrect transcription made from a barely legible manuscript, the correct title wouldn’t be known until 1921. Selecting fifteen scenes from Büchner’s unordered fragments, Berg adapted the libretto himself, with three acts of five scenes each, and retaining the essential character of the play.
With its themes of militarism, callousness, social exploitation, casual sadism, alienation, class antagonisms, and madness, Wozzeck is especially relevant for our troubled times today. The opera’s free atonality, dissonance, and use of Sprechstimme (also used in Pierrot lunaire, the song cycle by Berg’s musical mentor, Arnold Schoenberg) vividly evoke the dark atmosphere of the story. When Franz Wozzeck says, “Still, all is still, as if the world died,” and his friend Andres shows little interest in his words (Act I, scene ii), Glenn Watkins said that this was “as vivid a projection of impending world doom as any to come out of the Great War.”
When first performed, Wozzeck was a succès de scandale and received mixed reviews. Since then, it did, however, get a string of productions in Germany and Austria until the Nazis condemned it as “degenerate art” after 1933. Now, it is considered one of the most important operas of the 20th century.
Here is a link to Berg’s libretto (including both the original German and an English translation), a link to Büchner’s play, a link to a 1970 film version of the opera, and here are links to a performance of it, conducted by Claudio Abbado, in Acts I, II, and III. Here is a link to a recording with the score. Notes and text from the booklet of this CD recording were also used in the research for this analysis.
II: General Points About the Music
Of the three famous members of the Second Viennese School–which, in its early twentieth century’s avant-garde abandoning of tonality and eventually making use of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique, was comprised of Schoenberg, Berg, and Anton Webern–Berg was actually the most conservative. Schoenberg, the second most conservative of the three, nonetheless also wrote of the experimental technique he called Klangfarbenmelodie (“sound-colour melody”), which both he and Webern used extensively in their music. Webern’s music also tended to be more concise and melodically pointillistic, with wide leaps of, often, over an octave to create a sense of melodic fragmentation.
Berg, on the other hand, achieved a paradoxical fusion of the experimental Expressionistic techniques of Schoenberg with the flowing, lyrical orchestration of 19th century Romanticism. The emotional intensity of this old style, combined with the discordant brutality of musical modernism, is effective in bringing out the bleak world of Wozzeck, fittingly based on a play left unfinished with Büchner’s death in 1837.
Because Berg composed the opera in a free atonal style, he had to use other methods of controlling pitch to direct the harmony, as well as use a variety of other musical techniques to achieve unity and coherence. The most important of these is the use of the leitmotif, of which there are prominent ones for such characters in the opera as the Captain, the Doctor, and the Drum Major. Wozzeck has a motif for when he rushes on and off the stage, and another to express his misery and helplessness. Marie, his beautiful but unfaithful wife, has motifs to express her sensuality.
Elsewhere, we hear the tritone B-F, representing Wozzeck and Marie, the conflict in their bedeviled relationship fittingly expressed through the diabolus in musica. The relationship of Marie and their son is represented with the minor third, B-flat and D-flat; this is an interval commonly expressing sadness, which is fitting given her difficulties as a poor woman raising a child scandalously born out of wedlock. One notable motif is a pair of chords heard at the end of each act, oscillating and almost blurring into each other.
III: Act One
The opera begins with Franz Wozzeck shaving the Captain, who nags and taunts him with talk of going slower (langsam!) and of being “a good man” (ein guter Mensch). The Captain is clearly indicating his bourgeois disposition. It’s far easier to take things one at a time and to be a good man when one has money to give charitably and leisure time with which to take things slowly, and when one doesn’t have to sell one’s labour to survive, as Wozzeck must.
But all he can do is say, “Yes, Captain” (Jawohl, Herr Hauptmann!), because as a mere soldier, Wozzeck the proletarian has no power. [Berg was no revolutionary, of course (in fact, the financial success of this opera allowed him to live comfortably off the royalties); but his writing of an opera, whose subject matter clearly manifests the problems of class conflict, during revolutionary years (1914-1922, when the Russian Revolution and its ensuing Civil War happened; also, when the failed Spartacist uprising happened, and when the Italian fascists came to power in 1922 after having crushed socialist movements in the country) makes it impossible not to take note of the political implications of the story.] All Wozzeck can do is suffer in silence at the taunts of his superiors.
The Captain heightens his provocations by mentioning Wozzeck’s illegitimate son, “a child without the blessing of the Church.” Thus, Wozzeck has no morals!
He reminds the Captain of what Jesus said in Mark 10:14, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me.” Wozzeck’s bastard son is also a child of God, and God is always willing to forgive sinners. The Captain, with his bourgeois mentality, finds this Bible quote to be a strange answer; his attitude thus shows us the hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie, who see morals only in terms of social status and outward appearance, and who ignore the stresses and pressures that drive the poor to behave in ways that society disapproves of.
Wozzeck tries to get the Captain to understand what these stresses and pressures do to the poor when he begins with “We poor people!” (Wir arme Leut!) This introduces a particularly important leitmotif, D-sharp, B, E, G, the notes of an E minor/major 7th chord, expressive of the deepest despair.
Of course, his words go in one ear of the Captain and out the other, so having finished shaving him, Wozzeck is dismissed and told to go slowly. This first scene has been in the form of a suite.
In the next scene, Wozzeck is in a field with his friend, Andres, cutting sticks. The musical form is a rhapsody: the freer form of such music, with its highly contrasted moods and colour, is fitting as an expression of Wozzeck’s unstable, troubled state of mind at the moment.
He speaks of the cursed earth; one might be reminded of God cursing the earth as punishment on Adam and Cain (Genesis 3:17; 4:11). Andres seems oblivious to what Wozzeck is saying (as was the Captain), and, eyeing rabbits, he speaks cheerfully of wanting to be a hunter. He sings a hunting song.
Wozzeck’s premonitions and catastrophizing get worse: he makes a vague reference to the Freemasons, which sounds like a common form of paranoid conspiracy-oriented thinking similar to anti-semitic ranting. Apparently, it’s always the Jews or the Freemasons who are ruling the world and ruining it for the rest of us, rather than it simply being the capitalist class who is doing this evil. It’s clear that Wozzeck is suffering from mental illness, a growing problem today in relation to the plight of the poor, wir arme Leut!
He speaks of how hollow everything is, a maw, a chasm. One is reminded of the first few verses of Ecclesiastes, that in a world of vanity, futility, meaninglessness, uselessness, and emptiness (or, if you prefer, hollowness), one gains nothing from one’s labour, toiling under the sun, as Wozzeck and Andres do in that field.
As the sun is going down, Wozzeck sees a fire that roars like trumpets, reminding us of the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse, when the first angel “sounded his trumpet, and hail and fire mixed with blood were hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, along with a third of the trees and all the green grass” (Revelation 8:7). Wozzeck is having visions of the end of the world…”as if the world was dead.”
Many of us proletarians today, as we see the Western imperialists continue to antagonize nuclear-armed Russia and China, and as we see our financial prospects worsening, similarly are having premonitions of the end of the world, and can see the world burning down from wildfires and other problems related to climate change.
In Wozzeck’s case, though, the end of the world is coming about in Scene Three, with Marie, the mother of his child, being tempted into flirting with the handsome and socially higher Drum Major. Naturally, the scene begins with a march, so we’ll hear, specific to this scene, a marching band including woodwinds, brass, and percussion.
Marie, with her son at the window of their home, watches the Drum Major marching with his men on the street. Both she and Margret express their admiration for the man, though the latter taunts the former for her loose ways with the soldiers. Annoyed with Margret’s slut-shaming, Marie calls her a “bitch” (Luder) and shuts the window.
No longer do we hear marching music. She sings a lullaby to her son after putting him in bed (at crucial points in the melodic contour of the lullaby, we can hear the B-flat and D-flat that I mentioned above as representing her relationship with him). She feels the shame of having a reputation in town for being a whore, but again, as with Wozzeck, the stresses and pressures of being poor can drive people to act in ways that society disapproves of. Her eyeing of the Drum Major may be lewd on a superficial level, but on a deeper level, she has hopes that uniting with him will raise the financial status of herself and the boy, the only way a woman during that more patriarchal time could achieve such a social ascent.
The boy falls asleep, and after a brief moment of her being lost in thought (with a flurry of descending and ascending notes played on the celesta), she hears a knock on the window–it’s Wozzeck. He briefly tells her of his troubling visions, but he has no time to stay; he doesn’t even look at their son, which dismays her. She says the line, “Wir arme Leut,” though not in the notes of the minor-major 7th chord mentioned above. We can see here the connection between poverty and alienation within a family, the one causing the other.
The next scene, a passacaglia, has Wozzeck visiting the Doctor, who has him on a bizarre, experimental diet of beans (and later, mutton). As does the Captain, the Doctor bullies Wozzeck, berating him for pissing on the street, thus wasting what could be useful urine samples for the Doctor’s study. He pays Wozzeck a meagre three groschen a day for these urine samples and other forms of cooperating with the experiments.
As does the Captain (with his exhortations to take things slowly and to be “a good man”), the Doctor pressures Wozzeck to have better self-control in regulating his bladder. The Doctor is thus another example of a bourgeois imposing his sense of virtue on a proletarian who, in his poverty, finds such virtue difficult to live up to.
The Doctor brags of his self-control, including the control of his temper. Nonetheless, in his experimentation on Wozzeck, we see a sadism in the Doctor that, if we were to look ahead a few decades after the completion of this opera, would remind us of Doctor Mengele. Wozzeck’s doctor has a fascistic, disciplinarian authority about him, and he speaks gleefully about a revolution in the science of diet.
When Wozzeck tells the Doctor of his visions, the Doctor is delighted to see Wozzeck’s descent into madness. For his declining mental health, he’ll get a raise…of one extra groschen. The Doctor believes he’ll become famous for his theories, thanks to the deleterious effects of his research on Wozzeck!
Scene Five is a rondo. Marie is out on the streets, and her temptation to have an affair with the Drum Major is growing. She sees him approach and shows her admiration for him. He returns the flirting.
He aggressively comes on to her, causing her at first to resist, externally playing hard to get, and internally feeling conflicted over her loyalty to Wozzeck as against her desire for this far more manly Drum Major. The music gets particularly discordant during their struggle, but she gives in to him in the end.
Act One ends with those oscillating chords I mentioned above, played faster and faster until they seem to blur into each other. The notes of the first of the two chords are, from top to bottom, C-flat/G-flat/E-flat/A-natural; and those of the second chord are, again from top to bottom, D-flat/A-natural/F-natural/B-natural. Three quarters of these groups of notes are thus rising and falling parallel major seconds, and the remaining quarter of them are rising and falling parallel minor thirds, undulating like ripples in water.
The speeding up in time starts with eighth and quarter notes, then eighth notes, then eighth notes in triplets, then sixteenth notes, then sixteenth notes in sextuplets, then thirty-second notes, and finally it ends with tremolos. All of this occurs with a crescendo beginning at piano.
It’s significant that this music should have a rippling, wave-like effect, for it can be understood to foreshadow Wozzeck’s fate in the pond towards the end of Act Five.
IV: Act Two
Act Two, Scene One (in sonata-allegro form) begins with a solo cello playing an ascending stack of perfect fifths: C-natural, G-natural, D-natural, and A-natural; then B-natural, F-natural, and C-sharp. After the cello, we hear flute and celesta play that rippling theme of rising and falling (mostly, as last time) major seconds, only now the notes alternate between, from top to bottom, B-natural/F-sharp/D-sharp/A-natural and C-sharp/A-natural/E-sharp/B-natural. These oscillations are in sextuplets and triplets, then in tremolo half notes, with eighth rests between these groupings. This watery, wave-like tune reinforces the foreshadowing mentioned above, since Marie has succumbed to temptation.
She’s back at home with her “Bub,” admiring earrings that the Drum Major has given her. She puts the boy to bed, then Wozzeck suddenly walks in and sees the earrings before she can hide them. These earrings are like the handkerchief that jealous Othello learned was in Cassio‘s possession; the difference here, though, is that where Desdemona was innocent of having an affair with Cassio, Marie really did receive the earrings from the Drum Major, with whom she has had an affair. In any case, Wozzeck will go as mad from his actually unfaithful woman as Othello went mad with jealousy over his only seemingly unfaithful wife.
This time, unlike before, he looks at his sleeping son. He sings, “Wir arme Leut!” again, to the notes F-natural, D-flat, F-sharp, and A-natural…the intervals of that minor-major 7th chord motif. As I said above, this chord has a despairing quality to it, and now Wozzeck has even more to despair about. His whole world is coming to an end, because Marie’s infidelity, which will be most public, will cause him such a humiliation that he’ll fall to pieces.
Still, like a dutiful husband, he gives her the four groschen he made from the Doctor. He leaves, and Marie, though guilty of the sin that Desdemona was only slandered with, has at least a bit of her goodness, in that Marie is consumed with guilt over her infidelity. She ends the scene singing of how “Everything goes to the Devil: man and woman and child [Kind]!” On this last word, she sings a high B-natural descending to an F-natural, that tritone, the diabolus in musica representing her relationship with Wozzeck, which resulted in their Bub.
In Scene Two, a fantasia and fugue on three themes, we see the Doctor rushing by the Captain on the street, the latter, true to his character, urging the former to slow down, like “a good man.” Nonetheless, the Doctor is in a hurry and cannot slow down.
They taunt each other with names: the Captain addresses “Doctor Coffin-Nail” (Herr Sargnagel), and the Doctor addresses “Captain Drill-angel” (Herr Exercizengel). The Doctor begins finding fault with the Captain’s health, as a way to scare him. The Captain is “Bloated, fat, thick neck, apoplectic…” As we can see here, the bourgeois can trouble each other as much as they do the proletariat. Recall Marx’s words: “One capitalist always strikes down many others.” (Marx, page 929)
Then Wozzeck appears before them, and so these two bourgeois steer their taunts away from each other and on to him. They insinuate that they know of Marie’s infidelity to him. Now, he’s not only a cuckold, but a public cuckold. His already fragile mental stability is about to crack even more!
He says that he’s a poor devil, and that she is all he has in the world. So, to lose her to the Drum Major would be to lose everything.
The Drum Major, being like the Doctor and the Captain, that is, of a higher social position than that of Wozzeck, in taking Marie away, is symbolic in his actions of the capitalist who takes from the worker the full fruits of his labour. The capitalist’s surplus value is that stolen value, in the form of unpaid labour, money not given to the worker, here personified by Marie.
A worker’s labour is the only commodity he can give in exchange for money, and his unpaid labour, in the form of surplus value, is stolen from him, just as Marie, all Wozzeck has in the world, is stolen from him.
Feminists might be offended at my referring to Marie as Wozzeck’s stolen commodity, his stolen property; but think of my reference here as a comment on his patriarchal use of her, not as a defence of that use. For one of the many ways the ruling class keeps the proletariat divided and mutually alienated from each other is the perpetuation of sex roles.
So the Captain’s and Doctor’s taunting of Wozzeck, their knowing of Marie’s dalliance with the Drum Major, is like Iago fueling Othello’s jealousy, except that unlike Iago, Wozzeck’s two superiors are being truly honest with him.
Wozzeck thus rushes away in a jealous rage.
Scene Three, largo, brings us back to Wozzeck’s and Marie’s house, on the street in front of it. He confronts her with her infidelity. To his direct accusation, “You–with him!”, that is, with the Drum Major, she brazenly replies, “What if I was?”
He is about to slap her, but she defiantly says he wouldn’t dare touch her. Her own father wouldn’t have dared hit her when she was ten years old. (Othello dared to slap Desdemona in public, though, and she was innocent.) During this argument, though, she says something truly dangerous to herself, something to inspire Wozzeck’s eventual revenge on her: “Rather a knife in me that a hand on me.”
Scene Four is a scherzo, in which Wozzeck sees Marie dancing a waltz with the Drum Major in a crowd, in an inn where people are drinking and partying late in the evening. In other words, her infidelity with the Drum Major is shamelessly public. Wozzeck sees his humiliation right before his eyes!
A special set of musicians is reserved for this scene, a tavern band made up of a clarinet in C, a bombardon in F (or tuba, if it can be muted), an accordion, a guitar, and two fiddles (with steel strings).
Artisans and soldiers are singing about dancing and the joys of hunting, just as Andres, who is here at the inn, too, was singing of hunting while he and Wozzeck were cutting sticks in the field in Act One, Scene Two. All of this festivity is going on while Wozzeck is losing his mind, while his world is coming to an end. Hunting and drinking, for the artisans, soldiers, and Andres, are manic defences against facing one’s suffering. As we will see, Wozzeck will do some hunting and drinking of his own…but these won’t help him escape his suffering.
As Wozzeck sits there fuming all alone, the “village idiot” (Der Narr), as it were, approaches him. He vaguely senses the joy about him, something he’s too simple to understand; yet he paradoxically can sense something about Wozzeck that the others cannot–he smells blood on Wozzeck. This is more foreshadowing, of course: we all know what Wozzeck is going to do…with a knife.
Scene Five is a rondo. Wozzeck is in his bed, a bunker in the soldiers’ barracks at night. Andres is sleeping nearby, but Wozzeck cannot sleep, for obvious reasons. A chorus singing softly and wordlessly represents the sleeping soldiers.
When Wozzeck complains to Andres about not being able to sleep, the latter, annoyed to have been woken, tells the former to go back to sleep.
To make matters worse, though, the drunken Drum Major enters the barracks and brags of his sexual conquest of so fine a woman as Marie, thus compounding Wozzeck’s public humiliation. The usurper of her bed rubs it in further by picking a fight with Wozzeck, who has no hope of beating such a strong man, and one of such high social and military rank.
It would be easy to judge Wozzeck as a weak and cowardly man, but the point is that there is a power imbalance here–him as a poor soldier, and the Drum Major of so much higher rank–that the former can do nothing about it. Wozzeck’s low military rank is symbolic of the proletarian’s low social rank, just as the Drum Major’s high military rank, as that of the Captain and the higher social status of the Doctor, is symbolic of the ruling class.
Wozzeck cannot hurt the Drum Major, but there is someone of his low social caste whom he can hurt…Marie! Indeed, part of the reason he can’t sleep is that he’s thinking of the knife that she’s put in his mind, the temptation to murder her that he’s been struggling to resist.
Receiving no sympathy from his fellow soldiers for his beating and humiliation, Wozzeck can only repeat the Captain’s words: “One after the other.” Wozzeck, however, doesn’t use the Captain’s meaning, to take things slowly, one at a time, but rather that he suffers one injury after another; for such is the difference between the bourgeoisie’s experience of life, and that of the proletariat.
This is the end of Act Two, which musically has been structured like the movements of a symphony: sonata form, slow movement, scherzo, and rondo. Act Three, however, will be in the form of a series of inventions.
V: Act Three
Scene One, with Marie and the boy at home at night, is an invention on a theme. Plagued with guilt, she is reading her Bible, wishing Jesus would forgive her as He did Mary Magdalene and the woman taken in adultery (John 8:3).
With the boy near her, she tells a story of a poor boy whose parents are dead, and he’s now hungry and weeping day and night. Obviously, this story foreshadows the heartbreaking ending of the opera, where we have full knowledge of the fate of Wozzeck’s and Marie’s child.
She is worried that Franz hasn’t come home in the past couple of days. Next, she reads Luke 7:38, about Mary Magdalene’s repentance before Christ. Marie would be like Magdalene, to anoint Jesus’s feet and be forgiven.
Sadly, she will get no such forgiveness…not from Wozzeck, anyway. For in Scene Two, an invention on a single note (B), he has taken her into a forest by a pond, where he plans to murder her.
She senses the danger she’s in, and she tries to leave, but he won’t let her. As Othello did to Desdemona, Wozzeck kisses Marie before he kills her…she who, redeemed through faith in Christ’s crucifixion, could be seen to have been made as innocent as Desdemona always had been.
They notice how red the moon is, and I assume that it’s a quarter or half moon, because Wozzeck compares it to the “blood-stained steel” of the blade of a knife, right when he draws his, in preparation to stab Marie. The notion of a blood-red moon is associated with the end of the world (Joel 2:31, Acts 2:20, Revelation 6:12). As I said above, his loss of Marie is the end of the world for him, for she is all that he has. He stabs her, she screams and dies, and he runs away fearfully.
The scene ends with two crescendi, from ppp to fff, in octaves of B, in keeping with it being an invention on B. I wonder: why B, of all notes? Given that this moment can be felt to be the emotional reaction to the actual committing of the murder, that point of no going back, B–as the leading tone of the most basic scale, C major, the white keys on the piano–is thus symbolic of the greatest tension, without resolving up to C.
In Scene Three, an invention on a rhythm, Wozzeck is back in the tavern. We hear an out-of-tune piano playing a fast and jaunty polka while he drinks wine and pretends he’s enjoying himself and forgetting his guilty act, a manic defence against his deep sadness. It’s significant that the piano is out of tune, for it represents the pain he feels that he’s hiding behind his fake festivities.
He imagines he’s completing his revenge on Marie by groping Margret. She notices blood on his hand, though, right up to the elbow. He tries to hide his guilt by claiming he must have cut himself, but no one in the tavern believes him. Terrified of being found out, he runs away.
Scene Four is an invention on a hexachord. Wozzeck is back in the forest by the pond, where Marie’s body is still lying. The blood-red moon is still out.
He wishes to erase all evidence of his guilt, first by tossing the knife into the pond; then, thinking he hasn’t thrown it far enough and fearing it will be easily found, he wades into the water to find it and throw it farther in. What’s more, he must wash the blood off of himself in the water, so he wades in deeper.
He imagines the blood-red moon is reflecting his guilt from on high, incriminating him to the town. In his growing madness, he thinks the whole pond he’s bathing in is blood. He submerges himself in this “blood” and drowns himself.
What’s fascinating about this moment is the combination of Shakespearian associations that can be made. First, as mentioned above, Wozzeck is like Othello, killing his love out of jealousy, then killing himself. Second, he’s like Lady Macbeth, mad with guilt and unable to wash the blood from his hands, and committing suicide. Finally, he’s like Ophelia, mad with heartbreak over his love, mad and drowning himself out in nature.
For no apparent reason, the Captain and the Doctor happen to be strolling in the area just after Wozzeck’s suicide. They’ve heard the ghastly sound of Wozzeck’s cry before his death, and the Captain curses: “Jesus, what a noise!” Knowing they’ve heard human moans from the pond, the two bourgeois shudder at the implications (as well as at the blood-red moon), and rush away.
The juxtaposition of two proletarian deaths with two bourgeois witnesses of one of them, the latter two then rushing off to safety, represents the disturbing contrast between the suffering of the former and the privilege of the latter. This scene ends with an invention on…yes…a key (D minor)! It’s ironic how we have here an atonal opera in which–as with those crescendi of B notes–of all moments for there to be a surprising return to tonality (however dissonant it remains), it’s at the realization of the deaths of the two most sympathetic characters in the story, leaving the remaining sympathetic character, the boy, parentless.
We hear a mournful adagio in 3/4 that builds up to a despairing fortissimo climax starting on a D minor chord with an added ninth: two sets of eighth notes playing, top to bottom, E-natural/D-natural/A-natural/F-natural; then all these notes go down by parallel major seconds to give us two sets of eighth notes playing a C minor chord with an added ninth, then a B-flat minor chord with an added ninth. This climax softens to pianissimo, then an upward arpeggio played on the celesta leads us to the final scene.
Scene Five is an invention on an eighth note. The next morning, children are playing “ring-a-ring-a-roses” outside in the sun. Marie’s son is there, too, riding a hobby-horse. One child comes to tell them the news that Marie is dead.
One of the children makes sure to tell Marie’s boy that his mother is dead. He isn’t processing the horrifying news yet, so the other kids run off to the pond to see the body, while he continues riding for the moment, calling out “Hopp! Hoop!” Finally, he snaps out of it and goes after the other children, and the opera ends without our seeing his reaction to the sight of his mother’s corpse.
Whether or not Berg unconsciously intended it, his opera dramatizes the social consequences of class conflict: poverty, alienation, mental illness, the breakdown of family, violence against one’s fellow proletarians (instead of the revolutionary kind against the ruling class), and suicidal despair. The red-blooded end of the world as depicted in this WWI setting is all the more relevant to our late capitalist world, which is looking with dread at a possible WWIII.