A lot of attention is paid to its highly dramatic sequel, but WWI was just as brutal and tragic as the war that followed it. In fact, a lot of the conflict in WWII stemmed from the consequences of the Great War against the Central Powers.
Even less is said about the day-to-day lives of the families whose sons went to battle, and the soldiers themselves when they returned home. Each of these pictures look like a nightmare, but nearly a hundred years ago, this was the dark reality of the world.
This was a time when people grew very accustomed to the aesthetics of war.
Civilians in occupied countries commonly wore masks such as these to guard against gas attacks.
During the first day of battle alone, the Germans used 2.5 million artillery shells.
Also on the first day, the British created this colossal crater in France, during the Battle of Messines, by setting off 19 mines in just 19 seconds. Over 10,000 Germans were killed, and the blast was said to have been heard all the way from Ireland.
One of the most shocking images photographers saw after the smoke cleared was this newly dead man laying underneath a crucifix that has strangely been kept sacred.
Upon victory, America decided to symbolically erect a pyramid of 12,000 German helmets outside Grand Central Station.
Everyone was employed to help the war effort, even, apparently this Belgian dog who was forced to pull artillery on a wagon.
After the war, prosthetic faces were popular for the soldiers who returned with disfigured faces.
Plastic surgery wasn’t quite a thing yet.
The masks were hideous to look at, but they were, at times, far more appealing then the badly scarred faces that lay underneath.
The combination of rapidly advancing weapons technology, and the fact that medical science wasn’t cutting-edge enough to heal the recovering soldiers, contributed to the horrific scars of the war you see in these photos. WWI may not be the war with the most movie appearances, but is definitely one of the bloodiest. Nine million soldiers died during the 4 year fight. Even more tragic was the fact that 7 million civilians also died as a result.