Published on January 31, 2014
First World War Centenary
Blinded Gas casualties of the British 55th (West Lancashire) Division, awaiting treatment at an Advanced Dressing Station near Bethune, in France. This is one of the most famous pictures showing the effects of gas warfare. It was made by the official army photographer Second Lieutenant T.L. Aitke on April 10, 1918, during the Battle of Estaires, which was a part of the German spring offensive.
The Heritage of the Great War Yes, we know this is an unpleasant sight. But this whole war was very unpleasant - especially for the men who had to fight it. So don't complain if we confront you with their reality. This is a French medical picture, made on March 31, 1918. The dead man is a French soldier of the 99th Infantry Regt., who was killed by German mustard gas. The gas not only burned his lungs and intoxicated him, but also tore his skin apart.
“ People are machines of forgetfulness ” (Henri Barbusse, soldier, author of Le Feu, 1917)
Franz Ferdinand and Sophie arrive in Sarajevo June 28, 1914. Austrian Archduke and his wife visited Sarajevo, the capital of the Austrian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to dedicate a new hospital. They arrived by train and were a part of a caravan of open-topped cars.
Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his Wife Sophie von Hohenburg Leave the Town Hall in Sarajevo and Get into their Car June 28, 1914. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, and his wife, visit Sarajevo in Bosnia. A bomb is thrown at their auto but misses. Undaunted, they continue their visit only to be shot and killed a short time later by a lone assassin.
Gavrilo Princip being arrested after having murdered Francis Ferdinand One of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip at a distance of about five feet, fired twice into the car. Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie in the abdomen. They both died quickly. Princip too tried to kill himself with cyanide but, like his coconspirators, was also only made sick.
The assassination sparked the chain of events that led straight to military hostilities. As it was shown that Serbian officials knew of the impending assassination, the Austrian government sent Serbia an ultimatum which, among other things, demanded that Austrian officials be allowed to aid in the suppression of all hostile activities in the disaffected regions. The reply being unsatisfactory, an Austrian declaration of war followed on July 28, 1914.
Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II The Kaiser reviews his troops as Commander-in-Chief of the German Army. A close look at the Kaiser reveals the withered left arm he was born with. The Kaiser overcame the psychological impact of this obvious physical infirmity by embracing all things military, and always wore a military uniform. He envisioned a Germany that would someday possess an empire to rival Great Britain--an outlook that spurred an intensive arms race between Germany and Britain in the early 1900's--and then led to war in 1914 when the Kaiser gave his unconditional backing to Austria following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, mainly as a means of preserving Germany's rising status and his own prestige.
Russia's Czar Nicholas II Czar Nicholas II, ruler of the vast Russian Empire, the world's largest nation geographically--but populated by illiterate downcast peasants controlled by an insulated and arrogant elite--all the right ingredients for revolution, historically.
German Youth and Military Young Hans von Minning, boy-mascot of a German regiment--symbolic of Germany's youth which appreciated all things military, just like the Kaiser they so admired.
Czar Nicholas at the Front Russian Czar Nicholas II at the Front along with the six-foot-six tall Russian Army Commander-in-Chief Grand Duke Nicholas (standing in car) and Count Dobrinsky. Although the Czar had no military aptitude, he relieved the Grand Duke in September 1915 and took personal command of the world's largest army, with 16 million men mobilized--an army sprawled across the gigantic Eastern Front. The Czar's preoccupation with military matters and his extended absence from the home front led to a worsening of Russia's internal political situation, weakening his power and helping to pave the way for revolution.
Kaiser Visits the Front German infantry at the Front parade for Kaiser Wilhelm (seen on left). The Kaiser also liked informal encounters, often mingling with his troops amid their affectionate shouts of "Hoch! Hoch!" meaning high or exalted, although this practice diminished as Germany's fortunes declined.
Russian Czar in Captivity Nicholas Romanov, who once sat upon the throne as absolute ruler of Russia, now seated on a tree stump following his abdication, subsequent arrest and imprisonment in the Urals by Bolshevik Red Guards, three of whom are seen in the background.
The First World War saw the introduction of new weaponry for the first time. Tanks, air warfare and the machine gun. In the image a British tank rolls out of the factory.
British Introduce Tanks The British secret weapon deceptively described by them as a motorized water tank--a name that stuck in part. The first tanks in the war were seen at Delville Wood in the Somme and were met with incredulous looks from the Allied soldiers they were meant to protect and from the Germans, some of whom called them "monsters."
British Introduce Tanks A captured British tank, now bearing the German Cross. A curious crowd watches as fellow soldiers huddle on top trying to make it run. Unlike the Allies, the Germans showed little interest in developing their own tanks, partly as a result of scarce metal resources.
Camouflaging French soldiers camouflaging a 370 mm railway gun. Picture made by an official photographer of the French army on September 5th, 1917, near the village of Heenkerke in Flanders, Belgium. The deep roar of these enormous guns was terrifying. Conversation was impossible. To speak to a man beside him a soldier had to shout. Though the ears of the gunners were stuffed with cotton they ached and throbbed.
The legendary Krupp's Big Bertha, a German 42cm howitzer of the type used to crush the Belgian fortresses in 1914.
The First World War substantially increased the numbers of women in paid work and the range of jobs that they undertook. The majority of women supported the war effort by working in industry.
British women working in arms factory during World War I. United Kingdom 1914
Giant listening horns used to listen for approaching aircraft during WWI.
Adolf Hitler in crowd outside the Odeonplatz during the mobilization of the German army for WWI.Munich, Germany, August 2, 1914
Soldier's Lunch A French soldier at the Place Royal in the city of Reims, France. Picture made in spring 1917. The German army repeatedly attacked the old city of Reims. Shells brought heavy damage to the medieval buildings and to the famous cathedral. France sent thousands of soldiers to the city to defend it.
Famous, but untrue One of the most famous pictures of Verdun: a French soldier hit during an attack. But the picture is not true. It is a still, taken from a French movie made in 1927-1928. Many WW1-books feature this photograph and mention that is was taken by a German photographer.The movie, entitled Verdun, visions d’Histoire, was made by Léon Poirier who, during the Great War, himself served in a French artillery division. To increase the authenticity of the reenactment, Poirier used French and German veterans to play the roles of the soldiers.
Water Wounded Geman soldierBritish soldier giving water to a wounded German prisoner-of-war. Although the picture is probably staged, friendly gestures like this actually happened. In World War One most soldiers did not really hate their enemies. They saw each other as victims of the same uncomprehensible world-politics. Of course those views changed when friends got killed. And captured snipers and flamethrower-operators did not get much compassion either.
Besieged City French girl playing with her doll. Picture made in Reims, Northern France, 1917. German guns repeatedly shelled the medieval city of Reims. The famous cathedral and many buildings were heavily damaged, the sound of explosions was heard day and night, the city was full of soldiers — yet civilian life carried on.
An American Cigar American Army chaplain offers a cigar to a young German prisoner-of-war. As Germany in 1918 ran out of cannon fodder, the Kaiser and his generals committed very young soldiers to battle.
Verdun - Synonym for Inhumanity French picture made in 1916 in a trench near Verdun, Northern France. The Battle of Verdun was the longest and one of the bloodiest engagements of World War I. Two million men were engaged. The Germans began the battle on February 21, 1916. In December of that year the French had regained most of the ground lost. The Germans intended a battle of attrition in which they hoped to bleed the French army white. In the end they sustained almost as many casualties as the French: an estimated 328,000 to the French 348,000. The real figures are unknown. Nowadays Verdun stands for everything that is cruel and savage in warfare. Soldiers on both sides lost their sense of humanity.
Hungry French poilu's (common soldiers) waiting for their meal. Picture made in 1916 in the vicinity of Verdun, Northern France.
Blind Survivors French blessés de guerre, disabled veterans, with their nurse outside a hospital. Nobody knows how many soldiers were wounded in the Great War, probably more than 20 million.
The Age Of Destruction Allied soldiers just behind the frontline in Flanders. Enormous shellholes, filled with water, became deadly pitfalls for soldiers who slipped into it. And slippery it was — heavy rainfall often turned the Flemish clay into treacherous mud. Horses were used on both sides of the frontlines. Allied forces alone had 1 million horses; at least 25 percent died. How many horses the Germans had is unknown. Picture probably taken in the summer of 1917 near Passchendaele, one of the most infamous battlegrounds of the whole war.
Surrender — fake or real? Famous picture of a German boy soldier surrendering to a Scottish soldier. But is it real? Fernando Urquijo from Spain, thinks that this picture is faked: "An excellent piece of 'cut and paste', but a disaster regarding perspective and anatomy. The boy is too small and his proportions are wrong. Children´s heads are proportionally bigger than grown-up's and this boy has a very small head, while the Stahlhelm fits very well (the smallest WW1 Stahlhelm was size 60). The perspective is wrong too: look at the boy's hand, it should not be where it seems to be."
Shot at dawn Belgian soldier and war-volunteer Aloïs Walput (21) is tied to a pole and shot by his fellow-men. This execution took place on 3rd June 1918 in the dunes near the Flemish village of Oostduinkerke. The picture was made a few seconds after the soldier died: two soldiers cut the body loose, an officer (the medical doctor?) takes the exact time, the spurred commander of the firing-squad looks on. After the war all armies made their files on their executions top-secret. In a few cases the truth leaked through. And sometimes one of the executioners wanted the story off his chest.
Knocked Out A German gun has been knocked out. Two of its crew are dead and the third is falling as one more shell hits the gun position.
Shaving in the Trenches Picture made near the Somme battleground, in Northern France. The exact date is unknown, but probably summer 1916. The soldiers belong to the Newfoundland Regiment.
Maimed Young disabled soldiers at the Fourth London General Hospital.
Monsieur Auguste Lumière and the locomotive Lumiere on a war picture, 1917This true color picture was made after a German bombardment on a railway switchyard in Soissons, department of Aisne, in Northern France. What makes this picture extraordinary is not just the destroyed locomotive, but the man with the white hat. His name is Auguste Lumière. Auguste and his brother Louis Lumière were the inventors of the autochrome color process, a revolutionary way of making color photographs.The French army soon adopted this technique and that's why we have today a splendid collection of true color pictures from the Great War.
Cigarette American hospital, Neuilly, FranceAn American nurse lights a cigarette for a wounded soldier. His right arm seems limp. Picture made in 1918 in the 'American Hospital of Paris' in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, France.
Stuck German troops testing the capability of British tanks in traversing trenches. The tanks are socalled female Mark 1V tanks. Probably the Germans captured these tanks in the Battle of Cambrai, in November 1917. They repainted them with German crosses (sometimes erroneously called Maltese crosses) and gave them German names: Liesel and Fritz. German tankThe Germans experimented with captured British tanks to develop their own version.
May 7, 1917 On May 7, 1917 a French army photographer made a picture of a horrible scene along a railway, somewhere in Northern France. The famous French painter Jean Despujols, who as a soldier happened to be there, made a sketch of the same situation.
Destination: Paris German soldiers on their way to Paris. Picture made by a German war photographer, 1914
Disillusioned After weeks of long marches and numerous fights the German advance towards Paris came to a stand-still. Tired and disillusioned the Germans had to withdraw.
Invading by Bicycle German army unit on bicycles invading Poland.
Cheerful A German reserve-division marches cheerful to the front at Verdun. Their aim was, as their superiors wanted it, to 'bleed the French to death'. Deployed in this war of attrition only a few of these soldiers returned alive. Picture made in the summer of 1915.
Rats German soldiers after a succesful rathunt in the trenches. Rats were a terror, as they ate from the corpses and from the rations. They sometimes grew as big as cats.
Bloody Picnic Corpse of a French soldier blown into a tree
Bloody Picnic Unfinished cemetery
French military car picking up the dead
A British soldier 'shakes hands' with a kitten on a snowy bank, Neulette, 17 December 1917
German telephone post on the Western Front
Group of women working on an automobile engine re shortage of men during World War I. United Kingdom 1916
French prisoner tied to a stake at Zwickau prison camp is given a drink by a fellow POW during World War I. Zwickau, Germany 1917
Western Front, France Black and white photograph of two British soldiers, one cutting the other's hair. Army regulations stated that hair must be kept short, but a shaved head was an advantage when lice was such a common problem.
Reserves crossing a river on the way to Verdun. "They shall not pass" is a phrase which for all time will be associated with the heroic defense of Verdun. To future generations of French people it will bring a thrill of pride even surpassing that enkindled by the glorious "The Old Guard dies, it never surrenders." The guardians of the great fortress on the Meuse have proved themselves invincible in attack, invulnerable in defense.
British and German soldiers exchange cigarettes, gifts, and addresses during Christmas Truce, 1914
Pulling a heavy gun forward
Gas Attack On April 22, 1915, the Germans for the first time made a large scale use of poison gas. German infantry men follow the gas cloud on a very short distance, protected only by a little mouthcap watered in a certain liquid.
Gas Cloud Protected by gasmasks Germans troops advance during a gas attack.
Poison Gas Picture Piet den Blanken. Unexploded shells, containing deadly musterd gas, are piling up in the Belgian Houthulst Forest. Every day duds are found on the former battlefields of the Western Front. These shells never exploded because when they hit the ground they just disappeared into the muddy clay of Flanders. Bluup! Getting rid of these rusting and often leaking shells is an enormous problem for Belgium. And this is only half the problem. The other half is hidden below the waves on the shallow coast: Death Waits Patiently at a Belgian Beach.
A German naval gun crew, wearing anti-flash masks, tunics and gloves designed protect against cordite burns and poisonous fumes.1916
Gas Victims German victims of British gas.
Equipment for the trenches. Date Created between 1914 and 1918, A French sergeant and a dog, both wearing gas masks, on their way to the front line.
A Canadian soldier with mustard gas burns.
Picture showing Armenians killed during the Armenian Genocide. Image taken from Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and published in 1918. "Those who fell by the wayside. Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms---massacre, starvation, exhaustion---destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation"
Austria-Hungarian soldiers executing Serbian women
Turkish official teases starving Armenian children by showing them a piece of bread during the Armenian Genocide in 1915.
Not a scene from a horror flick. The millions who died during the Great War
Daughters of Flanders' Slain Orphanage in Northern France. Picture made in the summer of 1917, by an unknown American photographer. The picture was published in the National Geographic.
Deciding the Peace A full meeting of the Paris Peace Conference inside the ornate French Foreign Ministry building at the Quai d'Orsay. Representatives from the twenty-seven Allied nations met along with others. The Germans were excluded but kept a close eye on press reports about the proceedings. Allied indecision over what to do about the Russian Bolsheviks kept Russia from being invited .
Armistice Celebrated French civilians at Place de la Concorde in Paris gaze at some of the German weaponry surrendered after the Armistice. The French reacted to the war's end with solemnity rather than exuberance, and in subsequent years on November 11 they observed a minute of silence at 11 o'clock with tolling church bells. On the exact spot in the Compiègne Forest where the Germans signed the Armistice, the French placed a plaque in 1922 saying: "Here on the eleventh of November 1918, succumbed the criminal pride of the German Empire, vanquished by the free peoples it sought to enslave."
11th November 1918: Crowds celebrating the signing of the Armistice.
Armistice day celebrations, London, 11 November 1918
Dangerous Instability Nazi leader Adolf Hitler departs Landsberg prison in December 1924 after serving just nine months for his role in the failed Beer Hall Putsch. Sensational news coverage surrounding his trial helped little-known Hitler gain a national following in Germany. After his release from prison, Hitler began to painstakingly rebuild his movement with the goal of getting Nazis elected to the national legislature to destroy Germany's democracy from within and establish a dictatorship.
cast First World War, Rare Historical Photos images credit www. Music Hans Zimmer - Gortoz a Ran created o.e. thanks for watching A French soldier's grave, marked by his rifle and helmet, on the battlefield of Verdun. 1916 end
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