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World War I

Chosen Boy, a 1918 watercolor by Paul Klee. From 'Paul Klee: Early and Late Years: 1894-1940'.

Chosen Boy, a 1918 watercolor by Paul Klee. From Paul Klee: Early and Late Years: 1894-1940. © 2013 Moeller Fine Art

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1914

Black and white postcard with an embossed floral border, and a calendar for 1914. Two girls play at a water trough fashioned from a log, ribbons in their hair, and toy boats floating. On the trough, a poem:
"This little card I send, and pray
That round about your path each day
The light of love may shine alway."
E. Hutchinson
806J   Copyright.   Beagles' Postcards
Reverse: Post Card and logo for Beagles' Best Postcards
Best in the World
Dear Dorris
I have great pleasure in sending you this card once more trusting to find you in good health. Your(s?) Ca???? Sills

Black and white postcard with an embossed floral border, and a calendar for 1914. Two girls play at a water trough fashioned from a log, ribbons in their hair, and toy boats floating. On the trough, a poem:
"This little card I send, and pray
That round about your path each day
The light of love may shine alway."
E. Hutchinson
806J Copyright. Beagles' Postcards © Beagles' Postcards

1915

Calendar from the French magazine Le Petit Journal with scenes including (clockwise from top left) the capture of a German battle flag by Zouaves and Chasseurs à pied, a French artillery crew manning a 75mm. field gun, a dragoon moving into position, a heavier gun firing, entrenched troops, and marines advancing. The calendar includes Roman Catholic holy days, saints days, fête nationale (Bastille Day), and the time of sunrise and sunset. Illustration by L. Bomblec (?).
Text:
Le Petit Journal
est
Le Journal Républicain
le plus impartial et le mieux informé
le plus répandu des journaux du monde entier
Romans feuilletons des ecrivains les plus célèbres
Calendrier
1915
Le Petit Journal
is
The Republican Journal
the most impartial and well informed
the most widespread of newspapers in the world
Serialized novels of the most celebrated writers
calendar
1915

Calendar from the French magazine Le Petit Journal with scenes including (clockwise from top left) the capture of a German battle flag by Zouaves and Chasseurs à pied, a French artillery crew manning a 75mm. field gun, a dragoon moving into position, a heavier gun firing, entrenched troops, and marines advancing. The calendar includes Roman Catholic holy days, saints days, fête nationale (Bastille Day), and the time of sunrise and sunset. Illustration by L. Bomblec (?).

1916

Children dressed as Allied soldiers run to bring the New Year, 1916. France carries the 1, the United Kingdom (in a kilt) and Belgium — his national roundel on his hat — the 9, Serbia and Russia the 1 of the decade, and Italy the 6. Japan, bearing a flag, hurries to catch up. A folding calendar card for 1916 by G. Bertrand.
Reverse: the calendar for 1916
Inside:
With best wishes for a happy Christmas with love from Wallis

Children dressed as Allied soldiers run to bring the New Year, 1916. France carries the 1, the United Kingdom (in a kilt) and Belgium — his national roundel on his hat — the 9, Serbia and Russia the 1 of the decade, and Italy the 6. Japan, bearing a flag, hurries to catch up. A folding calendar card for 1916 by G. Bertrand.
Reverse: the calendar for 1916
Inside:
With best wishes for a happy Christmas with love from Wallis

1917

1917 Wedgwood Calendar Tile with the U.S. Navy Yard in Boston
Text:
Section of United States Navy Yard, Boston
Reverse:
1917 Calendar
Jones, McDuffee & Stratton Co.
Crockery, China, & Glass Merchants
33 Franklin St., Boston, U.S.A.

1917 Wedgwood Calendar Tile with the United States Navy Yard in Boston on the face, and the 1917 calendar on the reverse.

1918

1918 YMCA folding calendar card of two child French and American soldiers dancing beneath a ball of mistletoe and the words "With much Love", by Ray or R.A.Y.
The back cover is a 1918 calendar and the YMCA logo and "Devambez. Gr. Paris". The months are in English and French.
On the inside, two toy soldiers - French and American - holding hands beneath the words 'Best Wishes from "Over Here"' and "1918". Hand written is, "Best Love and Wishes to Little Sister from Big Brother."

1918 YMCA folding calendar card of two child French and American soldiers dancing beneath a ball of mistletoe and the words "With much Love", by Ray or R.A.Y.

Friday, September 25, 1914

"The Germans crossed the East Prussian border, in the hope of great victories, and were simply stopped before they got very far — supply-problems, exhaustion, inferior numbers, unfamiliar terrain all counting. By 25th September, the Russian X Army was able to stage a counter-offensive that pushed the Germans back to their borders." *

Saturday, September 25, 1915

"25th September [1915]

The first day of the great offensive. Anyhow, despite everything, we are optimistic; the surprise, our numbers, panic among the Germans, poison gas, I don't know—the Allies talk of so many infallible methods.

The weather which has been threatening for two or three days has definitely grown worse; it is pouring with rain. The bombardment began at 4 o'clock this morning. They are the Engish guns we can hear in the direction of Ypres.

. . . At midday we received some news. The English have taken Looz; the French are advancing in Champagne. At 5 o'clock this afternoon it was announced that the English have taken Hill 70 and Hulluch. In Champagne a breach has been made, through which the French cavalry has been launched.

At 9 o'clock this evening it was put out that Souchez has been taken. Elsewhere the advance has been stopped by bad weather. The English have lost Hulluch after heavy counter-attacks. In Champagne we have captured twenty-five kilometres of front line. This is not yet the real victorious break-through." *

Monday, September 25, 1916

"The revolt now spread to most of the Greek islands, and the kingdom was soon divided between two governments: the Royalist, which maintained authority over most of old Greece, and the Nationalist, which controlled the territory acquired in the Balkan wars. The latter region was the one in which the influence of Venizelos was strongest, and on September 20th [1916] he issued a statement in which he said he 'would wait a brief time yet to see what the government purposes to do before deciding on the course it will be best to adopt in the event that Greece does not enter the war.' As the government apparently purposed to do nothing, on September 25th Venizelos, Admiral Condouritis, commander of the Greek navy, and a considerable number of army and navy officers and civilians of influence left Athens, and after making a tour of the islands, landed at Salonika, where Venizelos became the real head of the 'Provisional Government of Macedonia.'" *

Tuesday, September 25, 1917

"There are many instances of men who, on the eve of going into action, had an unshakable idea, a premonition, that they would not come out alive. Morgan Jones tells of one of his fellow-signallers, an intelligent well-read man. 'He asked me to go for a walk with him in the evening after tea. When we had gone a little way he turned to me and said, 'Look here, '95, I know something is going to happen to me to-morrow. I am not going to get through this business alive. I want you to take charge of my letters to-morrow; I'm expecting some money.' . . . My arguments failed to persuade him not to give room to such gloomy thoughts. When H.Q. Company led the way into the line next day one of the first to be killed was '91 Davies.'" *

Wednesday, September 25, 1918

"On September 15th, in the forenoon, two French divisions and one Serbian division, making an attack on the formidable mountain barrier formed by the Vetrenik, the Dobropolje, and the so-called Sokol, made a breach in the enemy front which was to bring about the falling-in of the front. . . .

On September 18th the British-Greek divisions, after stubborn fighting, captured the enemy positions of Doiran, retaining in this region very important forces. From September 21st the Italian, Greek, and French troops of the allied army of Monastir moved up. On September 22nd the general pursuit commenced, and was carried out with splendid ardor and energy.

On September 23rd the Serbians crossed the Vardar towards Krivelak. On the 24th the French cavalry entered Prilep. On the 25th Ishtip was captured, as well as the formidable barrier of the Beles. The British opened up the road to Strumiza, which they entered on the 26th. On the same day the Serbians reached Kotchana and Veles, and the Italian, French and Greek troops were marching on Kicovo.

By the evening of the 26th the Bulgarians asked for a suspension of hostilities, and announced the dispatch of plenipotentiaries." *

* Quotation contexts and sources

At the End

During the four and half years of the Great War from the summer of 1914 to November 11, 1918, over eight million combatants and six million civilians died. In battle, they were killed by new and increasingly powerful weapons, 70% by artillery fire, and in higher percentages than in Europe's wars of the previous century. Civilians died from starvation, from being shelled and bombed, and from genocidal operations against ethnic minorities.

In the war and its aftermath, the empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Turkey were destroyed, and new nations were born and reborn.

New technologies were invented and young ones advanced rapidly - the airplane, poison gas, the machine gun, the tank, flame-throwers, submarines. Industrial production of the technologies, of shells, of bullets, of barbed wire, grew to unprecedented levels.

Societies changed. Women entered the wage labor market to free men up for combat and to meet the production demands of the war. Passports, identity cards, and increased border controls became increasingly common.

When the war itself ended, related wars continued: in Russia, Civil War between the new Bolshevik government and its enemies, both foreign and domestic; in Turkey, war by Greece to seize islands in the Aegean Sea and parts of the mainland of Turkey itself; in Ireland, war for independence from Great Britain.

At the Beginning

On Sunday, June 28, 1914, in the city of Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a province of Austria-Hungary, a team of seven conspirators with grenades, pistols and cyanide capsules/tablets, joined the crowds that had turned out to see Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophie von Hohenberg. A failed assassination attempt - a grenade that slightly wounded spectators and two in the royal couple's entourage - altered some plans and led to other events. A planned visit to City Hall went ahead, but a decision to visit the victims in hospital necessitating a changed route, a failure to inform the drivers of the change, the lead driver's attempt to back to correct the mistake - put the Archduke's stopped car in front of the most determined of the assassins, the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip. He stepped forward, averted his eyes, and fired twice, shooting the Archduke through the throat and his wife through the groin. The couple was dead within an hour. The gun, the bombs, the cyanide Princip took, and some of the conspirators would be traced to Serbia.

The Archduke was not popular in Austria-Hungary, and the reaction to his death was muted. But Austria-Hungary was a multi-ethnic, polyglot nation with populations that wanted to leave the empire. Princip had acted to advance his vision of a union of South Slavs that included Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Vienna, the capital, government officials feared the rise of Serbia, which had been victorious and doubled its size in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.

Initial concerns in other European capitals of an Austro-Hungarian response to the assassination lessened as July passed. In Petersburg, the Russian capital, government officials felt they must support Serbia if Austria-Hungary acted. The French and Russian governments communicated their support of their alliance and mutual commitment to aid the other in the event of war. The government of Great Britain, the third member of the Triple Entente with Russia and France, heard little that alarmed it. In Berlin, capital of the German Empire, which was allied with Austria-Hungary and Italy in the Triple Alliance, there was support for a quick and limited military action by Austria-Hungary.

Fears

Defeated by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, and humiliated in 1908 when it failed its Balkan ally Serbia, and did not prevent Austria-Hungary's incorporation of Slavic Bosnia-Herzegovina, many government officials in Russia felt the country must act in the next crisis when it inevitably arose. Many in the French government wanted to restore the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine it had lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, but feared a Germany that had a population half again as large as that of France, and worked to strengthen its ties with Russia, in part by financing its ally's rapid recovery from the 1905 war. Having seen the creation and rise of the Balkan states of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece, that had all wrested land and nationhood from the Ottoman Empire, and had come close to eliminating Turkey in Europe, Austria-Hungary feared losing its peoples and territories to these nations and to nations that did not yet exist. Great Britain, with the most powerful fleet in the world, and rule over one quarter of the world's population, but with a small army that was not structured for a European land war, was troubled by Germany's expansion and strengthening of its fleet. Many in the German military thought that war with Russia was inevitable, and that, with the recovery of Russia from the war and revolution of 1915, it should come sooner rather than when Russia had become even stronger. The military also feared a two-front war, facing France to the west, and Russia to the east. The military plan to address this, the Schlieffen Plan, aimed for a rapid defeat of France so that troops could be transported by rail across Germany to face the slowly-mobilizing Russians.

Austria-Hungary's Demands, Mobilization, and War

When Austria-Hungary's response to evidence that Serbia had played a role in the assassination came, there was little time for governments to react. Austria-Hungary submitted demands of Serbia that included unconditional acceptance within 24 hours. As European governments learned of the response, and hurried to react, Serbia accepted all by one of Austria-Hungary's demands, that which most impinged upon its sovereignty. The ambassador receiving the response left immediately for Vienna. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and on the next day bombarded Belgrade, its capital.

Russia mobilized its army in support of Serbia, but with a mobilization plan that activated troops facing not only Austria-Hungary but also Germany. On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia and invaded Luxemburg to begin its assault on France. France ordered general mobilization effective August 2, and began executing its plan to attack Germany along their border, through Alsace and Lorraine. On August 3, Germany declared war on France, and requested passage of its troops through Belgium to attack France along its northern border. Belgium, defending the neutrality that France, Germany, and Great Britain had pledged to support, refused. On August 4, Germany invaded Belgium. In Great Britain, where there was significant opposition to the war, the invasion of Belgium shifted the opinion of the public and the government. Britain declared war on Germany.

Across Europe, millions of men were in motion, on trains, horseback, and on foot. France and Britain were bringing troops and laborers from its colonies and the British Commonwealth, France from Algeria, Senegal, and Dahomey, Britain from Egypt and India. Generals had not assembled armies this large before, and had not put them into motion, nor led them into battle. Most generals, most soldiers, most civilians thought the war would end in months, that their their army would be in Berlin, in Paris, in Petersburg, by Christmas, before 1915. Only a few saw this war would be different, and would not end for years.