Monday, May 31, 2010

Memoirs: The Great War

It's hard to believe that World War One happened almost one hundred years ago. It has faded more and more into memory. Last I checked there are only three veterans from the conflict still alive.

I was recently reading Mr. Punch's History of the Great War (and it's here on google books as well) and then came across an article about photos of the Gallipoli campaign that were saved from the trash heap in, of all places, Vancouver. To quote the article:
He said the fortuitous find is a reminder of how important it is to ensure historic images are properly archived.
The Great War is well archived of course. There are any number of memoirs and accounts that help give the perspectives of the combatants on all sides. has diaries and memoirs among other information. Heritage of the Great War is a site in English and Dutch that is filled with stories, histories, and accounts. It has a large section on Great Writings of the Great War which links to novels, memoirs, and other books from the Great War and about the Great War. You could get lost in those links for days.

Even though the war started almost a century ago it still holds some surprises. One of the biggest for me is the number of colour photos that were taken during the war. Yes... colour. While Heritage of the Great War has some of these, the best collection I've found is the aptly named World War I Color Photos. Even in the small number of colour photos that survive there are surprises. Among the pictures that you'd expect there are pictures of the African soldiers who fought on the Western Front. We don't expect to see Senegalese or Algerians soldiers.

Men who lived through the war took the time to explain what they went through. To tell us what they thought was important and to share what they experienced. Usually with the hope no one else would have to go through the same experiences again. If we want to learn from them we better start paying attention to what they were trying to tell us.

Reading their words is the first step.

1 comment:

Lene Andersen said...

Colour. Really? Wow.

And you're right. We should read this. Thanks for posting it.