Posted by: Kenn Hermann | May 16, 2008

A Photographic History of the Great War

There are a large number of websites devoted to World War I. There are two in particular that merit special attention, viewing, and reflection, in my judgment.

The Heritage of the Great War In addition to the stunning photographs, both b/w and color, this site has some outstanding political cartoons by the Dutch graphic artist, Albert Hahn, who attacked the ravages of WWI with his stileto pen. You will have to search for “Albert Hahn” in the search box to find them.

World War One Color Photos The French army used the newly invented color photography process of the Lumiere brothers for these brilliant photos.

My interest in the photographic history of WWI was piqued by the purchase of a scarce two-volume set of photogravure etchings that the New York Times photographers took for the NYT during 1916. That’s another advantage of being a bookseller. Since the U.S. was still neutral in 1916, the photographers had access to both sides of the conflict. The results are outstanding. To date I have not seen any of these photographs reprinted.

While we are on WWI, I hope many of you saw the outstanding PBS film (from ITV in England) on “My Boy Jack,” the gripping and poignant story of the death of Rudyard Kipling’s son during the carnage at the Battle of Loos in France, just weeks after his 18th birthday. The title comes from a poem of that title that Kipling wrote in memory of his son. It was also Kipling, the arch imperialist, who asked in his Epitaphs of War: “If any question why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

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