World War I



"What shall we say of the Great War of Europe, ever threatening, ever impending, and which never comes? We shall say that it never will come. Humanly speaking, it is impossible....The bankers will not find the money for such a fight, the industries will not maintain it, the statesmen cannot....It comes to the same thing in the the end. There will be no general war."

-David Starr Jordan ,M.D. Ph.D. LL.D. (President of Stanford University) ,Feb 27,.1913



"Here is where words fail...The vast dimensions of suffering, stupidity, and folly. . .the sheer numbers involved. It was grotesque, impersonal, obscene, ghastly. The war was, quite simply the worst thing that had ever happened . . .

And yet . . . "

William Manchester


"It's raining my soul, it's raining, but it's raining dead eyes."

Guillaume Apollinaire


There died a myriad,

And of the best, among them,

For an old bitch gone in the teeth,

For a botched civilization."

Ezra Pound



"The First World War, taken as a whole, is a gigantic parable of the war that mankind is trying to avoid. It was a war of peculiar ugliness, fought with exceptional stupidity and brutality. It destroyed permanently a great part of European civilization. It was started for reasons that in retrospect seem almost trivial. The damage and loss suffered by all parties were utterly out of proportion to the pettiness of the initial quarrel between Serbia and Austria-Hungary. In all these respects, the history of the First World War holds up a mirror to the present, showing how small follies lead to great disasters, how ordinarily intelligent people walk open-eyed into Hell."

Freeman Dyson


"What did the unknown Soldier of the Great War think he was doing when he died? What did we, we people who got him into the Great War and who are still in possession of this world of his, what did we persuade him to think he was doing and what is the obligation we have incurred to him to atone for his death, for the life and sunlight he will know no more?"

H.G. Wells (1918)


"All this madness, all this rage, all this flaming death of our civilization and our hopes, has been brought about because a set of official gentlemen, living luxurious lives, mostly stupid, and all without imagination or heart, have chosen that it should occur rather than that any one of them should suffer some infinitesimal rebuff to his country’s pride."

Bertrand Russell (Letter written 12 Aug, 1914, eight days after the outbreak of war.)


""We are fighting in the quarrel of civilization against barbarism, of liberty against tyranny. Germany has become a menace to the whole world. She is the most dangerous enemy of liberty now existing."

Theodore Roosevelt 


"when every autumn people said it could not last through the winter, and when every spring there was still no end in sight, only the hope that out of it all some good would accrue to mankind kept men and nations fighting. When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion."

Barbara Tuchman

The Guns of August


"all of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation….you have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death."

Gertrude Stein


"Every writer who has dealt with that last summer before the Great War has Felt compelled to comment on the uncommon perfection of the weather the endless days of ardent blue skies across which fair-weather clouds toiled lazily, the long lavender evenings Freshened by soft breezes, the early mornings of birdsong and slanting yellow sunlight. From Italy to Scotland, from Berlin to the valleys of my native Basse Pyrenees, all of Europe shared an exceptional period of clear, delicious weather. It was the last thing they were to share for four terrible years-save for the mud and agony, hate and death of the war that marked the boundary between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, between the 'Age of Space , and the Era of Efficiency. "





"The last war, during the years 1915,1916,1917, was the most colossal, murderous, mismanaged butchery that has ever taken place on earth. Any writer who said otherwise lied."


Ernest Hemingway



"Abraham. . . stretched forth the knife to slay his son. When lo! an angel called him out of heaven saying, lay not thy hand upon the lad, never do anything to "him. Behold, a ram, caught up in the thicket, by its horns; offer the ram of Pride instead of him. But the old man would not do so, Slew his son and half the seed of Europe, one by one."


Willfred Owen


':My heart-leapt as I saw our youths of twenty going into the furnace of Verdun.. .But how depressing it was when they returned Their expressions...Seemed frozen, by a vision of terror; their gait and their postures betrayed a total dejection; they sagged beneath the weight of horrifying: memories."


General Petain



"The war? Until the end of last month, it was nothing but a word, enormous, stretching across the pages of the lethargic newspapers of summer. The war? Yes, perhaps, very far away on the other side of the world, but not here. . .How could anyone imagine that even the echo of a war could make its way through these rocky ramparts , forbiddingly wild, the wildness accentuating the quiet calm at the foot of the cliffs--the waves, the sparse dune grass, the sand embossed by the tiny claws of birds.. .?"

Earthly Paradise

Collette' s Autobiography

Robert Phelps

Sunburst Books



"The land where we had stayed groaned with destruction. Where once peaceful villages stood, was only soot, ashes and burning embers after we passed. We kindled a funeral pyre, and more than dead material burned there-there burned our hopes, our longings, there burned the burgerlich tablets, the laws and values of the civilized world, there burned everything. . ..And so we came back swaggering, drunken, laden with plunder."

(written by a Freikorps volunteer)

Robert Waite

Vanguard of Nazism



" There was one spectacle so horrible, so devastating, that it has haunted me ever since. As one of the trains drew in from the front there looked out of a window some four or five women, disheveled, bedraggled, with contorted and obscene faces, utterly inhuman in appearance, so that we started back from the sight in horror. I asked an officer who descended from the train who these terrifying creatures were. He answered: "These harpies are Frenchwomen who were caught on the field of battle robbing the dead!" My little boy was frightened out of his wits by the awful sight, and the image sank deep into my mind. "

Chaim Weizman

Trial & Error Harper



"Poor little devels, "his wife would answer, "they know they are going to their death." Then she would hug the cat convulsively to her and kiss it all over its face."

The Best Times

John Dos Passos


"In the pictures, the snapshots hurriedly made, a little faded, a little dog-eared with the thirteen years, they swagger a little. Lean, hard, in their brass-and-leather harness, posed standing beside or leaning upon the esoteric shapes of wire and wood and canvass in which they flew without parachutes, they too have an esoteric look, a look not exactly human, like that of some dim and threatful apotheoses of the race seen for an instant in the glare of a thunderclap and then forever because they are dead, all the old pilots, dead on the llth of November, 1918....They are thick men now, a little thick about the waist from sitting behind desks, and maybe not so good , with" wives and children in suburban homes almost paid out, With gardens in which they putter in the long evenings after the 5:15 is in, and perhaps not so good at that either; the hard, lean men who swaggered hard and drank hard because they had found that being dead was not as quiet as they had heard it would be."

All. the dead Pilots

William Faulkner

Collected stories of

William Faulkner

Random House



Humanity. . .must be mad to do what it is doing.

what scenes of horror and carnage . . .hell Cannot be so terrible,"


(from the diary of a French Lieutenant)


"This western-front business couldn't be done again, not for a long time. The young men think they could do it, but they couldn't. They could fight the Marne again but not this. This took religion and years of plenty and tremendous sureties and the exact relation that existed between the classes. The Russians and Italians weren't any good on this front. You had to have a whole-souled sentimental equipment going back further than you could remember. You had to remember Christmas and postcards of the Crown Price and his fiancée, and little cafes in Valence and beer gardens in Unter den Linden and weddings at the mairie, and going to the Derby, and your grand-father's whiskers.. . . This kind of battle was invented by Lewis Carroll and Jules Verne and whoever wrote "Undine' , and country deacons bowling and marraines and girls seduced in the back lanes of Wurtenburg and Westphalia. Why, this was a love battle--this was a century of middle-class love spent here. This was 'the last love battle."

F. Scott Fitzgerald



"Within the walls of the old Vauban fortress of Montreuil, where G.H.Q. were established, Kiggel (General Kiggel-Chief of Staff under General Haig World War I) meditated like a Buddhist bhikku; revolved the prayer wheel of his doctrines, and out of them concocted Napoleonic battles on paper, which on the ground turned out to be slaughter-house dramas. He was essentially a cloistered soldier; he never went near a battle, and--if reports are correct--only once visited a battlefield, and then long after the battle had been fought. Spiritually he was the twin brother of Flecker's Mandarin general in the "Golden Journey of Samarkind, "

Who never left his palace gates before,

but hath grown blind, reading great books on war.

J.F.C. Fuller 


"They went drumming down the old road of blood. "

Liddell Hart,

paraphrasing T. E. Lawrence



"Oh, I don ' t know what this war ' s about, But I bet , by gosh,

I'll soon find out."

popular song WWI




"But there was a strange temper in the air. Unsatisfied by material prosperity the nations turned restlessly towards strife internal or external. ..Almost one might think the world wished to suffer."

Winston Churchill


"But war was something different; no one was ever in favor of war--indeed, it seemed so completely unthinkable in an age of advanced civilization that there was no time to prepare for "it" There was only one accepted attitude toward war--that it was a sin. It was easy enough to hold this view without putting it to the test; but now the first test had suddenly come, and un the peaceful, wide-open steppe lands beneath cloudless skies it was a hard one to understand."

Sanya in August 1914

Alexander Solzhenitsyn


"When fate, for four whole years, played out a war of monumental frightfulness on the stage of Europe-a war that nobody wanted-nobody dreamt of asking exactly who or what had caused the war and its continuation. Nobody realized that European - man was possessed by something that robbed him of all free will. And this state of unconscious possession will continue undeterred until we Europeans become scared of our ' god-all-mightiness. ' Such a change can begin only with individuals, for the masses are blind brutes, as we know to our cost."

C. G. Jung

Psychology and Alchemy

cw 12



"The madness of it, Nicholas. Standing in holes in the ground, thousands of men, English, scots, Indians, French, Germans, is that. Not flames, not pitchforks. But a place without the possibility of reason, like Nueve Chapelle that day."

John Fowles

the Magus




"Can there be in the world of real men anything more shadowy than an Archduke?"




"That it was an insane waste of lives the combatants realized early, but no one knew what to do. The waste of honor, love, courage, and selfless devotion was the cruelest of all; at the first Battle of Ypres, in the opening days of the war, the young German Schoolboy volunteers 'came on like men possessed, ' a British historian records. They were sent in against picked battalions of British regulars who shot them to pieces on the slopes of Ypres with the trained rifle fir for which they were famous . The incident has gone down in German history as the 'Kindermord von Ypres' 'the slaughter on the Innocents at Ypres. ' No other phrase will do."


From an article

The End of Innocence"

Horizon Summer 64

Edmund Stillman




"A life so frightfully bestial….Even pigs are better off."

Louis Mairet


"The storm has died away, and still we are restless, uneasy, as if the storm were about to break. Almost all the affairs of men remain in a terrible uncertainty….But among all these injured things is the mind. The mind has been cruelly wounded…it doubts itself profoundly."

Paul Valery (Lecture in zurich in 1922)


"Here chivalry disappeared for always. Like all noble and personal feelings it had to give way to the new tempo of battle and to the rule of the machine. Here the new Europe revealed itself for the first time in combat."

Ernst Junger


"Our one agreed aim in the First World War was to break up German militarism. It was no part of our original intention to break up the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires, to create Czechoslovakia or resurrect Poland, to make a Russian revolution, to treble the size of Serbia and double that of Rumania, to create Iraq and Estonia and Lithuania and a Jewish National Home, or to give the keys of the Brenner and the Adriatic to Italy. Yet, in the outcome, all these-and much else-sprang from the war....while the one thing which we promised ourselves, the destruction of German militarism, we failed to achieve."

-H.N. Fieldhouse


"All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation....You have no respect for anything. You drink yourselves to death."

Gertrude Stein

A Moveable Feast



"The plunge of civilization into this abyss of blood and darkness by the wanton feat of those two infamous aristocrats is a thing that so gives away the whole long age during which we have supposed the world to be, with whatever abatement, gradually bettering, that to have to take in all now for what the treacherous years were all the while really making for and meaning is too tragic for any words."

-Henry James


Book: "The First World War" by R. Prior & T. Wilson

Book: "The First World War" by Hew Strachan

Book: "The First World War" by Michael Howard

Book: "Harry's War: Experiences in the "Suicide Club' in World War One" by Harry Stinton

Book: "Forgotten Voices Of The Great War" by Max Arthur

Book: "The Great War Generals On The Western Front, 1914-1918" by Robin Neillands

Book: "Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914?" by David Fromkin

Book: "The Illusion Of Victory: America in World War I" by Thomas Fleming

Book: "War 1914-Punishing The Serbs: Uncovered Editions"

Book: "The Illusion of Victory: America in World War I" by Thomas Fleming

Book: "Yanks: The Epic Story Of the American Army in World War I" by John S.D. & Joanne T. Eisenhower

Book: Paths of Glory: The French Army, 1914-1918" by Anthony Clayton

Book: "Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World" by Margaret MacMillan

Book: "The Road To Verdun: World War I's Most Momentous Battle and the Folly of Nationalism" by Ian Ousby

Book: "Over Here, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Edition: The First World War and American Society" by David M. Kennedy

Book: "War Underground: The Tunnellers of the Great War" by Alexander Barrie

Book: "Hall of Mirrors" by David Sinclair

Book: "Citizen Extraordinaire: The Diplomatic Diaries of Vance McCormick in London and Paris, 1917-1919, Ed by Michael Barton et al.


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