Serbian Soldiers on Guard Duty
The assassination of the Austrian Grand Duke by a Serbian nationalist and Austria-Hungary’s efforts to punish Serbia, led to World War 1. Serbian soldiers were poorly equipped, and out numbered by the forces of the Austrian Empire, but they put up a tenacious defence of their territory. In the end, however, the Serbs were overwhelmed and the remnants of their shattered armies retreated into Albania and Greece. Some where evacuated by sea to Italy, in an operation reminiscent of Dunkirk during WW2.
In this photograph, a group of three Serbian soldiers stand guard over a snowy landscape, somewhere in Serbia during the winter of 1914/1915. The land looks very cold and harsh.
The two men on the ground are carrying rifles with bayonets, and they each have a large backpack with their kit and supplies. It is not clear what the Serbian soldier in the tree is holding. None of the three men is wearing white camouflage clothing and their dark winter coats make them stand out dangerously against the white of the snow.
Pope Benedict XV famously referred to as World War 1 as the “suicide of Europe”.
Pope Benedict XV was elected Pope only a few weeks after the start of the conflict. It was Sepetember 1914, and the war had been raging only since the end of July. In those heady days, when it was still a war of movement and counter moves, before the front stagnated into the horrors of trench warfare, the world still believed that this would be a short war. Most politicians and generals stated that the troops before Christmas. Few paid any attention to the pacifist warnings of the Pope.
The allies disdainfully rejected his efforts at peace mediation. The Italian government and pro-war press dismissed the Italian born Pope as unpatriotic. No one saw the disaster that was coming.
But Benedict was right. His reign began with the start of World War 1, and he lived long enough to see that the war was in fact the suicide of Europe. Nothing would ever be the same again. For good, and mostly for bad, the old order had been broken beyond repair.
The picture above shows allied soldiers making their way through an apocalyptic wasteland following a battle.