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The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps and Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
OverviewExplosionStalemateTrench WarfareWilhelm II / MeidnerJaures / Gibbs
Voices of the Great War

Jean Jaurès Jean Jaures
Jean Jaurès, a French socialist, did his best in 1914 to rally international socialism against going to war - but to no avail.

Play Audio"What will the future be like, when the billions now thrown away in preparation for war are spent on useful things to increase the well-being of people, on the construction of decent houses for workers, on improving transportation, on reclaiming the land? The fever of imperialism has become a sickness. It is the disease of a badly run society which does not know how to use its energies at home."
-- Jean Jaurès

Paris, modern-day
Paris, modern-day
Jean Jaurès was a socialist and French nationalist who found in the French revolution a universal message. He was fervently anti-war, and was the one man in the powerful socialist movement who could speak for European workers whatever their nationality. His oratorical power was legendary. In the summer of 1914, Jaurès tried to rally the forces of international socialism against going to war, but events were moving to fast for him to do anything about it. He was assassinated in a Paris café days before war broke out by a crazed nationalist fearful of Jaurès' power to prevent France from going to war.

Voice Source: The Life of Jean Jaurès, Harvey Goldberg, University of Wisconsin Press, Madision, Milwaukee and London, 1962.

Philip Gibbs Philip Gibbs
Philip Gibbs, a British journalist, wrote from Paris in 1914 at the start of the war as France mobilized to meet the invading German army.

Play Audio"The thunderbolt fell with its signal of war, and in a few days Paris was changed as though by some wizard's spell. A hush fell upon Montmartre, and the musicians in its orchestras packed up their instruments and scurried with scared faces to Berlin, Vienna, and Budapest...
The Seine was very quiet beneath its bridges. The women were hiding in their rooms, asking God how they were going to live now that their lovers had gone away to flight. … The call to arms came without any loud clamour of bugles or orations…The quietness of Paris was astounding…"
-- Philip Gibbs, Soul of War

In France, news of war left people dumbfounded. Ten of thousands of men were ordered to report immediately to their regiment when posters announcing the mobilization went up on the 1st of August. All the railway lines in Paris were jammed with people on the move. Social and political differences were put aside -- every able man joined his unit. Opposition to the war was non-existent. Everyone felt anger against Germany and a determination to avoid the humiliation of military defeat.


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