It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets" is a dictum by Voltaire found in Questions sur l'Encyclopédie (1770-1774). Its original French reads "il est défendu de tuer; tout meurtrier est puni, à moins qu’il n’ait tué en grande compagnie, et au son des trompettes."

By this Voltaire means that is allowed for people to kill during war.

Dutch translation

Het is verboden om te doden. Iedere moordenaar wordt gestraft, tenzij hij doodt in groot gezelschap en onder luid trompetgeschal.


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