Group Photo of the German High Command During World War 1
The German Emperor and His Wartime Generals and Admirals
This is a group photo of the German High Command during World War 1, showing the German Emperor Kaiser Willhelm I surrounded by his generals and admirals. Seated behind the Emperor are such notables as Bulow, Tirpitz, Moltke and Hindenberg. These men collectively had the blood of millions on their hands.
German Prisoners of War Standing Behind Barbed Wire
The picture shows a sea of German soldiers, all prisoners of war, standing behind a barbed wire fence. The fence is a rudimentary one, just a few wires strung along some rough posts. There are a couple of signs, their wording illegible but probably some warning against crossing the fence, nailed to one of the fence posts.
There are so many prisoners of war that the men have no room to move or lie down. There is no visible shelter, just a mass of thousands and thousands of POWs. Judging from their overcoats it is likely that the picture was taken in the Fall and there seems to be a chill in the air.
The conditions must have been very difficult. There is no designated place to go to the bathroom. Hygiene must have been horrendous. Line ups for food must have been very long.
Despite these hardships, the men in this picture were comparatively lucky. For them the war was over, and if they survived cholera and other diseases prevalent in POW camps, they would soon be repatriated with their families.
Here is a close up of some of the men, unidentified persons amidst the masses of nameless and indistinct faces.
A group of French soldiers, guns by their side, rest on a straw bedding laid down on the floor of the church. meanwhile a group of parishioners kneel and pray facing the altar.
Although all of the combatants were majority Christian nations, churches became focal points of fighting and were often commandeered to serve as bases, barracks, and field hospitals. The sturdy stone construction of churches and cathedrals meant that they made good strong points, and so they were often fortified and used as forts. Also their steeples served as good observation posts. As a result churches suffered terrible damage from artillery and infantry fighting, and were desecrated by both sides in the war.
A 1917 German propaganda poster depicting Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg. Below is a quote from Hindenberg in which he assures the German people that the Rhine river will never be crossed by the enemy as long as the Army and the Navy work together. The title of the poster reads: On His 70th birthday.
In fact, the Rhine was not crossed by the Allies during World War 1 until after the German surrender. Despite its defeat, all fighting took place outside the national territory of Germany. However by the time of the German armistice Germany’s ability to carry on the war effort was at an end, and collapse was imminent. The Allies were preparing for a final, deep penetration into the heart of Germany and the German armed forces could offer little resistance. However the fact that Germany surrendered while its armies were still on French soil led to the myth, later exploited by Hitler, that Germany had been betrayed and could have fought on.
German Prisoners Western Front
Set of photographs showing groups of German prisoners of war being escorted through a French village. These men were captured during the Battle in Champagne which was a French attempt to counter attack the invading German armies and push them back. The battle lasted from September 25, 1915 until November 6, 1915.
The French outnumbered the Germans in the area almost two to one, and the offensive met with initial success. But the Germans had anticipated the French attack and had dug in. The French met with determined German resistance and resulted in the French suffering heavy losses.
Of the 450,000 French soldiers that participated in the battle, 150,000 became casualties. The Germans had 220,000 men and suffered 72,500 casualties, including 25,000 who were taken prisoners.
A group of German POWS Captured During the Battle in Champagne
Closeup View of the German POWs