Archive for the ‘Chapter 22: World War I: The End of Enlightenment’ Category

The Lewis Machine Gun

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The machine guns came to dominate the battle fields of WWI.  It was a primitive device with a heavy weight and was not suited for rapidly advancing infantry troops.  Each weighed 30-60 Kgs often without their mounting, carriages, and supplies.  It theory they could fire 400-600 rounds per minute.  In reality once the machine overheated it would become inoperable.   They were consequently fired in short rather than sustained bursts.  Cooling was possible either through water or water jackets. Once these guns were redesigned to become lighter and more accurate, they soon found their way into vehicles, naval vessels,  and aircrafts.

WWI Blood transfusion

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The recognition of the four human blood groups was determined by Jansky in 1907.  He classified his groups as I, II, III, and IV but we now recognize these groups according to the ABO classification. In 1907, Jansky’s Group I corresponded to present day group O; Group II corresponded to present day group A; Group III corresponded to present day group B; and Group IV corresponded to present day group AB. Prior to the discovery of sodium citrate to prevent blood from clotting in 1914, the use of blood transfusion was only through paraffin coated tubing and bottles, with considerable risk of the transfusion failing due to the coagulation of the blood. The first transfusion of citrated blood was performed by Professor L. Agote of Buenos Aires on November 14th 1914 but despite this, transfusion of blood was considered to be too difficult and unsuited for the stress of war conditions until 1917 when the Royal Army Medical Corps was reinforced by doctors from the United States and the knowledge that blood could be safely transfused spread throughout the Armies.

Stormtroopers during gas attack 1924

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Prior to WWI the use of poison gas was considered uncivilized.  However, the development and use was necessitated by the requirements of wartime armies to find new ways of overcoming the stalement during trench warfare.  The first debut of poison gas was on April 22nd 1915 in the second battle of Ypres.  The effects of chlorine gas were severe.  Within seconds of inhaling its vapors destroyed the victim’s respiratory organs, bringing choking attacks.  Here is a painting by Otto dix  showing his interpretation of a poison gas attack.  Soldiers are perceived as monster.  The lack of color within the painting signifies the absence of life and the outer manifestation of death.

Otto Dix – Trench Warfare

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

WWI employed the use of trench warfare.  After fighting in these trenches Otto dix shares his feeling through painting.  He paints the devastating remains of a bombardment.  Human cadavers are seen everywhere with flesh and blood distributed throughout.  A masked figure stands in the foreground contemplating the devastating human waste.  Above him is a dead soldier whose severe burns have left him half flesh and half skeleton.  Clearly the conditions of these trenches were not pleasant and left a scaring effect of the artist.

The Skull

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

After studying realism in Dresden, Dix was drafted into WWI and profoundly affected by his experiences with trench warfare. Dix began to criticize their politics in his work, and was therefore deemed as a degenerate and forced to resign from his teaching position. He then adopted a less controversial style, painting religious subjects in romantic and eventually expressionist style. This is a gruesome image of decay and worms investing a human skill.  It is meant to symbolize the indescribable horrors of the first World War. For Dix and other European artists of WWI era, skulls were powerful tools to express the dark reality of death that the disaster of war inevitably brings.

German U-Boats sink British Luxary Liner

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Early into WWI Germany declared that the waters surrounding Britain were off limits to commercial trade. Off the coast of Ireland, in 1915, U-boats sank a luxurious British liner named the Lusitania resulting in the loss of over 1,200 lives (which included 128 Americans). After the silent torpedoing pressure from the American government called for Germany to now give first warning before performing a silent attack on a vessel. Americans halted their trade to Germany and Austria-Hungary which resulted in major shortages of food and material to those ports.

Famous contemptorary view of the sinking of the Lusitania



The Camel Corps

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

During World War I the British empire enlisted more than a million Indian troops to fight alongside the Brits. Thankfully only about 100,000 of those million were killed in combat. The Indian Government also contributed $30 million pounds annually for the war effort. The most famous military unit was the Camel Corps. In return for their war efforts Britain promised that India would achieve their independence, however it wasn’t for another thirty years that India would gain their freedom.

British Camel Corps Toy WWI


The Slaughter at Verdun

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

In February 1916 the German army began its assault on the French city of Verdun. Under the leadership of French commander Henri Petain the army defended this fortress of a city to the end. The loss of lives and wounded were in the range of  a million German and French combatants; after repeated waves of German soldiers were sent and held off by the French. Petain became a national hero for his efforts. Petain was ordered to hold the city at all costs, upon which he delivered his famous pledge “Ils ne passeront pas!” (‘They shall not pass!’).

Commander Petain of the Verdun


Tsar Nicholas II’s 1908 arrangment with Austria

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

The Black Hand made their attempts clear in forming a great union of Southern Slavs, in the regions of the Austrian Empire, when on June 28th, 1914 they assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. Previously in 1908, Russian Tsar Nicholas II laid out an informal arrangement, with Austria, that Russia would support Austria’s attempt to annex themselves from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In return Austria would support Russia’s attempts in securing a naval force that would sail from the Black Sea, through the former Ottoman city Dardanelles, and into the Mediterranean. Shortly after the assassination of Ferdinand, the Austrian and Russian armies began mobilizing their forces and declared war on Serbia.

Russian Military Movements during WWI

Assassination Game Plan

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The assignation of the Arch duke was organized by The Black Hand.   It was a military secretly society founded in the kingdom of Serbia.  The Black Hand organized seven members to line along Appel Quay.  Ferdinand and his wife Sophie von Cotkovato were traveling on this street for a reception at the city hall. These men were instructed to take cyanide after their shooting.  This insured that the information regarding the true masterminds would not leak.  The men who stepped up for this mission were all severely ill and their deaths were inevitable. Consequently, they volunteered to give up their lives for what they believed was a great cause.

The first assassin lined up to shoot the arch duke was Muhamed Mehmedbasic.  As the archduke passed Muhamed, He failed to execute due to the presences of authorities.  Nedilko cabrinovic was lined up next and as the archduke passed him, he flung a bomb from the crowd hoping for it to land on Ferdinand’s vehicle.  The driver saw the bomb and accelerated his vehicle.  The bomb fell on the car behind Ferdinand’s vehicle and exploded, killing the passengers and injuring the surrounded spectators.   After throwing the bomb, Nedielko consumed the cyanide; however the dose was not strong enough to take his life.  The police quickly apprehended Nedielko and Ferdinand was transported to the reception.

After the reception, Ferdinand inquired about the injured subsectors and wished to see them at the hospital.   He was instructed to stay on Appel Quay however the driver was not informed of secured avenue and made a turn on to Franz Joseph Street.  Gavrilo Princip, one of the seven assassins, was ironically walking on this street.  As the driver was backing up to get back on Appel Quay, Princip swiftly approached the vehicle and fired couple of shots. Ferdiand and his wife were both murdered that day.

After shooting the archduke, Princip pointed the gun on himself rather taking cyanide.  Pedestrians noticed this act and quickly apprehended Princip.  Once Princip and Nedilko were tortured, the other five members were also arrested and charge for treason. At the time Princip was 19 years old and could not be put to death for his actions.  He was sentenced for 20 years in prison, but due his illness of tuberculosis he died in prison.

The Assassin of Archduke
Scene of Assassination

For more detailed information please click here