Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS

War IndexGlossaryEducational ResourcesAbout the Show
The Great War
Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Timeline Maps & Battles The Shaping of the 21st Century Historians
OverviewHatred and HungerWar Without EndYashka / WilsonSassoon / Owen
Cemetery in France'Worst of all is that every war already carries within the war which will answer it.' -- Kathe Kollwitz, German Artist

War Without End
Soldier with reconstructive face mask
Soldier with reconstructive face mask
For the "lost generation" the war became a war without end, one that continued through missing limbs, mutilated faces and shaking bodies. The question that haunted civilians throughout Europe was why so many of their fathers, husbands, sons and brothers had to die? Writers and other artists tried to create an answer. Memorials were established for the fallen, and people visited the battlefields to retrace the footsteps of their loved ones. Millions also searched for hope and messages from the departed through Spiritualism.
In the United States, President Wilson was determined to get the United States Senate to back the League of Nations. He embarked on a national campaign to gain the support of the American people for the League. His efforts were ultimately unsuccessful; in one way, Wilson was also a victim of the war.

Paris Peace Conference

Play Video
While in Germany, the sense of betrayal and dishonor prompted some Germans to seek revenge. Many Germans, especially members of the army, believed that Germany had not lost the war on the battlefield. This was a delusion, but a dangerous one. These people felt that Germany, the army and all those who had lost their lives in the war had been betrayed by traitors at home who had undermined the soldiers at the front. The man who rose up to lead them was Adolf Hitler.

Top Photo: Cemetery in France

Map of Europe 1918-1920

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. Denmark
4. Netherlands
5. Belgium
6. Portugal

7. Switzerland
8. Estonia
9. Latvia
10. Lithuania
11. Germany-East Prussia
12. Czechoslovakia

13. Austria
14. Hungary
15. Yugoslavia
16. Albania
17. Greece
18. Bulgaria

Historian Commentary The Road Back
Robert Wohl, Historian

Casualty of war
Casualty of war
As horrible as the war was, it was an experience that many people found positive, productive and worthwhile... that's something that's generally not understood about the WW I. A lot of the men who fought in that war came out of it very attached to their experience of the war, thinking that this was the best time of their lives. They had experienced comradeship with other men that they had never even thought possible before, and wondering then what the post-war world was going to be like. And for many of these men, the road back was just very difficult.

Explore Further
* WWI Casualties & Deaths
* Daily Mirror [UK] Headlines: Armistice, Published 12 November 1918 (BBC)
* Armistice (Channel 4, UK)
* The Great War and the British People by J.M. Winter (London, Macmillan, 1986)
1918-1939 Timeline
Full Timeline Go

Home Prologue Explosion/Stalemate Total War/Slaughter Mutiny/Collapse Hatred & Hunger/War Without End

Timeline Maps & Battles Shaping of the 21st Century Historians War Index Resources About the Show
World War II begins Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany U.S. rejects League of Nations 1940 1939 1933 1920 1919 1918